The Adversarial System Essay

1198 words - 5 pages

The system of criminal procedure primarily utilized in the United States is the adversarial system. The term “adversary” is easily interpreted to mean opposition. Our present criminal procedure pits two sides against each other to present their respective evidence and issues surrounding a criminal act. This paper will address the adversarial system and its expressed use in criminal court proceedings in the United States. Among the questions this paper will take into consideration are: Is the adversarial system the best way to achieve justice in the criminal courts of the United States; what those limitations are; how those limitations deliver justice; alternatives to the adversarial system; and the advantages or disadvantages of those alternatives.Achieving JusticeWhen confronted with the issue of the best method to achieving justice in criminal court proceedings; one must understand what the adversarial system entails.The use of a jury, the standard of evidence relied upon and the standard of proof, the cross-examining of witnesses and the ability to plead guilty, contribute greatly to reaching justice in the adversary system. They are all reasons which help the adversary system in accomplishing fairness in criminal trials. The adversary system is a feature of the common law system and was brought to Australia with England. It has adapted to the Australian legal system. It is a system of trial where, “…the two sides of the case try to present and prove their version of the facts and disprove the version of the other side.”(Cook, Creyke, & Geddes Hamer, 2005) A jury decides guilt or innocence, while a judge or magistrate guides the jury in areas of law, as well as deciding a suitable punishment for the defendant.In criminal cases in the adversarial system of trial, justice is achieved through the use of evidence. In the adversarial system, the standard of evidence that can be used to support an argument is high. This is seen in the statement “… the rules of evidence are considerably stricter than the inquisitorial system.” (Wikipedia Encyclopedia, 2008) This shows that the evidence that will be accepted is of reasonable quality and that it will less likely be made up. The burden of proof in criminal cases lies with the prosecution. The standard that guilt must be proven is beyond reasonable doubt. This is so that there is less chance of an innocent person being convicted. The statement, “No matter how strong the prosecution’s evidence may be, if the magistrate or the jury has any reasonable doubt that he or she is guilty, the accused is entitled to be acquitted”( Nettheim, 2002) proves that there should be no doubt when convicting a person. The standard of proof and evidence that the adversary system employs are among the factors that make it the best system for achieving justice in criminal cases. Evidence is such an important factor because often it can determine cases and the outcome...

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