PROFESSOR TIMOTHY KELLY
INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE
MAY 29, 2014
I have chosen the State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman as the first part of this paper. Why was Zimmerman charged and tried at the state level, and then face the possibility of Federal charges? Is this not “double jeopardy”? The court that will try a case is decided by jurisdiction, jurisdiction being defined as “(1) the legal authority of a court to hear and decide a certain type of case; (2) the geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases “ (Definitions, n.d.). Also we must clarify state and federal jurisdiction. Federal court jurisdiction is limited to the types of cases listed in the Constitution and specifically provided for by Congress. For the most part, federal courts only hear cases in which the United States is a party and cases involving violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal laws. There are others, but those are the ones relevant to this paper. State courts have much broader jurisdiction, they preside over cases most individual citizens would be involved in and most criminal cases involve violations of state law and are thus tried in state court. Being as Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder, he was tried in a state court. Zimmerman was found not guilty by the jury, so case closed, correct? U.S. Attorney General Holder stated that after the trial that the Federal Government would investigate the possibility of charging Zimmerman with a civil rights violation, or the Federal “hate crime” law. The two statutes that he could be charges with are 18 U.S.C 245 and 18 U.S.C. 249. Section 249, the more explicit law, states it criminalizes violence “"because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person" (Adams, 2013). So technically, this would not be “double jeopardy” because Zimmerman would be charged with a different crime, a Federal crime, from the same incident. With that said, it is a far reach to charge him with a hate crime when there was no evidence in the state trial that his actions against Martin were “because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin”. In addition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded that there is no evidence of Zimmerman acting based on racial motivation. I believe the Federal investigation was a direct act to appease certain groups outraged over the result of the state trial. In my research, it was the majority opinion that there is insufficient evidence to charge Zimmerman with any Federal crime. My final thought is this, if Zimmerman is charged with a federal crime, is not the federal government saying in a way, the jury in the state trial got it wrong?
Robert H. Richards IV, the wealthy heir to the du Pont family fortune, was convicted of raping his infant daughter, yet will spend no time in prison. Although convicted in 2009 in Delaware, the case was kept quiet until Richards former wife filed a lawsuit in Delaware Superior Court in 2014 on behalf of their children alleging "personal injuries arising from the childhood sexual abuse." She alleges that Richards not only abused their daughter, but also admitted to abusing their infant son (Conlon & Gallman, 2014). Despite being sentenced to eight years, the judge suspended the sentence stating "defendant will not fare well" in prison. Richards instead received eight years’ probation, ordered to receive treatment, and was registered as a sex offender. Richards was originally indicted on two counts of second-degree rape of a child, punishable by ten years in prison for each count. But as part of a plea agreement days before his 2008 trial, Richards pleaded guilty to fourth-degree rape -- reportedly a Class C violent felony that can bring up to 15 years in prison, though guidelines suggest zero to 2 1/2 years (Crimesider, 2014). uperior Court Judge Jan Jurden suggested that she considered unique circumstances, and that