Discretion In Law Enforcement

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Discretion is an official action taken by a police officer or any other agent of criminal justice in whereby they use their individual judgement to decide the course of action suitable for an occurring incident. In criminal justice, an officer considers the totality of circumstances before reaching on a decision to either take legal action or not against an individual. And to what extend the and kind of action will be take (Griffiths, 2013: 122), for instance; warning or arresting the individual. Furthermore, discretion is the privilege or permission granted to officers to use their own judgement to make practical decisions. However there are also attached constraints to this. Officers cannot go out and make choices of their own freely without underlying consequences. Criminal justice officials are governed by laws, rules and codes of ethics when exercising discretion.

Discretion varies among officers of different positions. Patrol officers and their
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This is because it is applied as police carry out their daily routine activities such as preventing crimes, searching, arresting and charging suspects. Given the ambiguous nature of the existing criminal laws concerning the scope and dealings of conflict and disorder situations, alongside the limited resources allocated to the police departments, and variations in nature of offences; police discretion becomes a principle part for officers to give weight to law enforcement (Griffiths, 2013: 122). First of all, individual officers in streets and fast areas has to decide whether an incident they are coming across fits into the definition of an offence as stipulated by the law and to what extend are they to be subjected to judgement. For instance, in a case of an assault, the law does not give further definitions on whether it is simple or aggravated assault. So it is the mandate of the officer to what kind it fits
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