Criminal Justice System Fundamental Principles


The fundamental principle of a criminal justice system is to protect innocent citizens from unlawful acts and interferences by criminals. This principle is reinforced through criminal law, which is entrenched in the constitution. Criminal justice systems must follow criminal procedures that safeguard the rights of individuals. Criminal procedures begin with police contact and also include sentencing and appeals. This essay defines and explains searches and seizures as the key elements of a criminal justice system. It also highlights relationships between searches, seizures, arrests, and reasonableness.

Searches, Seizures, Arrests, and Reasonableness

A search is an important exercise in criminal investigations. It can be defined as a meaningful interference with an individual’s privacy (Waksman & Goodman, 2010) The criminal procedures postulate that a search can only be conducted by a law enforcer after he or she is granted a search warrant from a judge or a magistrate (Waksman & Goodman, 2010). A procedural search occurs when law enforcers intrude on the individual’s privacy. A good real-life example of a search in the U.S. in the case of ”City of Ontario v. Quon”, in 2010 (Greenhalgh, United States, & American Bar Association, 2010).

A seizure occurs when a law enforcement officer interferes with individuals’ possessory property (Waksman & Goodman, 2010). In criminal procedures, a police officer must possess a warrant that justifies a seizure of an individual’s property. According to Vina (2006), a seizure can be applied to an individual or property. There are cases where the search and seizure can be conducted without warrants. A good real-life example of such a seizure is the case of “Chimel v. California” in 1969 (Greenhalgh, United States, & American Bar Association, 2010). Full arrests and checkpoint stops for police inquiries are some of the good examples of seizures.

The relationship between a search, seizure, arrest, and reasonableness is manifested through an examination of how criminal procedures are carried out. Constitutions protect individuals’ privacy from unreasonable intrusion into their premises and properties (Zalman, 2011). Searches and seizures should be reasonable. They should also be given probable cause. The enforcing officers need to be issued warrants to execute searches or seizures. Reasonableness prescribes characteristics of places and premises that need to be searched, as well as the nature of the arrest. Pre-textual searches and plain view seizure incidents should uphold reasonableness in the incidents of arrests. Searches, seizures, and arrests are supposed to be lawful and hence should prevent the destruction of evidence (Zalman, 2011).

Criminal justice systems face several issues and problems when conducting searches, seizures, arrests, and reasonableness. Therefore, the law should be receptive to changes in the criminal justice systems. The law enforcers should ensure that searches and seizures are always reasonable. A good real-life example here is the case of “Katz v. United States”, which shows that individuals and their personal property need to enjoy reasonable expectations of privacy (Greenhalgh, United States, & American Bar Association, 2010). Also, there must be probable cause. This will eliminate constitutional violations and avoid court vindication of criminals based violations.

Border and regulatory searches monitor people, vehicles, products, and other contraband (Wilson, 2012). The routine searches at the borders do not require warrants but are reasonable. Non-routine searches are based on reasonable suspicions. This plays a major role in the justice system. A reasonable suspicion enables arrests and detentions of contraband products, drug smugglers, as well as terrorists. However, under the Fourth Amendment, they are not exempted from reasonableness (Vina, 2006).

Border security operations should be enhanced through substantive changes in border security operations. This can be achieved through the utilization of the best technologies to enable the interception of contraband products, terrorists, and smugglers. Also, strategic improvements in terrorist intelligence and law enforcement operations should be enhanced. Finally, collaboration with international agencies and nations should be improved.


Searches and seizures are important criminal justice elements. Criminal procedures ensure that searches and seizures are reasonable so that individual rights were not infringed by law enforcers during the criminal justice process. Also, border and regulatory searches are critical in ensuring that a country’s criminal justice system is not compromised by foreign criminal networks.


Greenhalgh, W. W., United States., & American Bar Association. (2010). The Fourth Amendment handbook. Chicago, Ill: Criminal Justice Section, American Bar Association.

Vina, S., R. (2006). Protecting our perimeter, “Border Searches” under the Fourth Amendment, report for congress. Congressional Research Service. Web.

Waksman, D. M., & Goodman, D., J. (2010). The search and seizure handbook. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice-Hall.

Wilson, S., H. (2012). The U.S. justice system: An encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.

Zalman, M. (2011). Criminal procedure: Constitution and society. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Video Voice-over

Cite this paper

Select style


LawBirdie. (2023, June 27). Criminal Justice System Fundamental Principles. Retrieved from


LawBirdie. (2023, June 27). Criminal Justice System Fundamental Principles.

Work Cited

"Criminal Justice System Fundamental Principles." LawBirdie, 27 June 2023,


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Criminal Justice System Fundamental Principles'. 27 June.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Criminal Justice System Fundamental Principles." June 27, 2023.

1. LawBirdie. "Criminal Justice System Fundamental Principles." June 27, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Criminal Justice System Fundamental Principles." June 27, 2023.