The Due Process Perspective as Compared to the Crime Control Perspective

The due process perspective as compared to the crime control perspective has two distinct and contrasting goals. In the due process perspective, due process advocates believe the government must be engaged in not just the control of crime, but that the government must also be concerned with the propagation of human freedoms by way of protecting the right of citizens to be free from undue government intrusions. [1]

To protect the citizen, the due process perspective places the highest priority on the careful and skillful work of the courts and attorneys to protect the defendant’s constitutional rights. Those rights include the right to equal treatment under the law, as well as the right to due process. [2]

The due process perspective looks to place the quality of the systemic processes required in the criminal justice course of action over the quantity aspect held to be important in the crime control perspective. [3] While the due process perspective wants to do as much as possible to avoid mistakes which might result in an innocent person being sent to jail, the crime control perspective considers mistakes to be an acceptable means to an end to effectuate its quantity-comes-first-doctrine preference. [4]

The due process perspective places an emphasis on the idea that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. [5] Because of this idea, under the due process perspective it is important to adhere to strict, formal procedure and the reliance on the courts to impartially dispense justice and insure that the chances of a defendant receiving justice are maximized.

In contrast, the crime control perspective insists on an informal approach.

A mainstay of this approach is to utilize plea bargaining as an effective behind the scenes methodology to resolve criminal cases. While plea bargaining decreases the demand on the State’s time and resources, plea bargaining may not produce the types of results indicative of a just and impartial court of law. [6]  

The opposing doctrines of faith in the courts as adapted by the due process perspective and the faith in police, as adapted by the crime control perspective is symbolic of the enormous differences in the two perspectives. The crime control perspective aims to put the control of crime first, regardless of how such a position negatively impacts the freedoms of the citizenry.

For instance, this perspective places an emphasis on actual guilt versus the due process perspective of an emphasis on legal guilt. [7] This is a very important difference which can be exhibited in the Walder case.

In Walder, Walder was indicted on narcotics possession charges. [9] Under the crime control perspective, because the possession of heroin is illegal, the fact that the search of Walder uncovered a capsule of heroin in Walder’s possession means that Walder is guilty and the perspective does not hold the manner in which the evidence was discovered to be of optimal importance. What is important in this perspective is that Walder was actually in possession of the heroin.

In contrast, the due process perspective is concerned with being able to rely on a formal system in which constitutional rights are protected. It is not so much that Walder may have possessed the heroin, as much it is in assuring that established procedures which protect the rights of citizens are followed by the government in the criminal justice process.

Because the search and seizure was illegal, and the evidence was inadmissible, the due process perspective demands that the government cannot prove the charge and must set the defendant free. While supporters of both either perspective can argue the merits of each perspective, the important guiding principle in criminal justice should be to effectuate all action in accordance with the law of the land which is the United States Constitution.

[1] John L. Worrall, Criminal procedure: from first contact to appeal 13-15 (5th ed. 2015).

[2] Id. at 13.

[3] Id. at 14.

[4] Id. at 15.

[5] Worrall, supra, at 15.

[6] Worrall, supra, at 15.

[7] Id. at 14.

[8] Walder v. United States, 347 U.S. 62 (1954).

[9] Id.