"You have the right to remain silent." For many people in New Jersey, this is a familiar phrase. Even if people have not encountered it through their own experiences, they have heard these warnings on a police drama on television. However, people may not consider just how important the Miranda rights can be until they or a loved one face charges in a criminal case. The Miranda rights take their name from a 1966 Supreme Court case that affirmed the obligation of police to provide information to people they arrest about their rights under the Fifth Amendment, which protects people against self-incrimination.
Many New Jersey residents may expect police investigations to be like those often portrayed in movies and TV dramas, focused on accuracy and taking advantage of the latest advanced scientific techniques. Unfortunately, however, some investigations and forensic techniques are fraught with pseudoscience and questionable tactics that allow police to go after a suspect they have already decided is guilty, regardless of the potential of a different perpetrator or the original suspect's innocence. Many techniques used by police, despite being taught in classes paid for by police departments around the world, are scientifically unproven and highly unreliable.
People in New Jersey often think of community service sentences as providing a win-win situation. People who are convicted of crimes, usually misdemeanors with fines attached, may be able to work through their sentence without harsh jail time or hefty fines they cannot afford. At the same time, society can benefit from their labor. However, a study released by the Labor Center and School of Law at UCLA indicates that community service sentencing does not avoid the overall inequities and problems with the criminal justice system. In particular, researchers say that people serving these sentences may suffer many of the same effects associated with heavy court debt.
New Jersey residents may be interested in learning that about one quarter of arrests are for consuming alcohol or drugs without permission. Statistics show that 9% of arrests for men and 8% of arrests for women are connected to drugs while 11% of arrests for women and 16% of arrests for men are linked to underage drinking.
Police officers and federal agents usually must obtain search warrants if they wish to search a New Jersey resident's home or automobile, and judges will only authorize searches when they are presented with sufficient probable cause. However, the confidential personal data that individuals share with technology companies is far easier for law enforcement to access. Most companies only ask for a subpoena before handing over this information, and police officers can obtain a subpoena without probable cause.
New Jersey residents might be interested to learn that Americans between the ages of 26 and 35 were 3.6 times more likely to have been taken into custody compared to those over the age of 66. This was according to a study called the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which reviewed 35,000 individuals over a period of 50 years. Generally speaking, white men were less likely to be taken into custody than black men at a young age.
About 80 percent of the people arrested each year in New Jersey and around the country are charged with misdemeanors, according to figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The vast majority of these cases are resolved by plea agreements rather than trials. Unfortunately, this often leads to harsher treatment of African American defendants.