Q:

What is police discretion?

A:

Discretion is a police officer's option to use his judgment to interpret the law as it applies to misdemeanor crimes. The laws that apply to felony crimes, such as murder, are black and white. Laws that apply to misdemeanor crimes can be a gray area for police officers, allowing them to exercise their good judgment and determine whether a crime is serious enough to carry the maximum punishment.

Police discretion relies on the officer's confidence and good judgment to work correctly and in the best interests of the community. If a police officer holds every citizen to the letter of the law, then some violations may cost the city more money than it recoups from fines. For instance, if a police officer pulls a motorist over for a speeding violation and then discovers that the driver has been smoking a small amount of marijuana in the car, the officer can either write the motorist tickets for the traffic citation and the marijuana, seize the marijuana and take it in to the station for processing, which takes time from the officer and the custody officer, or stay on the streets policing and just write the motorist a fine for the traffic citation while giving him a warning about the marijuana use. This also applies when an officer pulls someone over for a traffic citation. It is up to the officer whether he wants to give the motorist a ticket or a warning. This is the officer's discretion and allows him to operate in a gray area when it comes to minor legal infractions.


Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    What are the responsibilities of a police officer?

    A:

    A police officer is responsible for protecting people's life and property by enforcing the laws and regulations of the community they serve. A police officer is expected to patrol areas and look out for criminal activity.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the benefits of being a police officer?

    A:

    A variety of job options, attractive retirement packages and job security are some of the benefits of being a police officer, notes Career Profiles. Other benefits include prestige, constant challenge and fulfillment, explains the National Center for Women and Policing.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are some interesting facts about police officers and detectives?

    A:

    In order to become a police officer, a person must have at least a high school diploma and complete on-the-job training. As of 2012, the median pay for a police officer and detective was $56,980 per year, or $27.40 per hour.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is a Miranda Warning?

    A:

    A Miranda Warning is an explanation of rights given in the United States by a police officer to a suspect before questioning. The suspect must be informed of his or her right to remain silent, to consult with a lawyer and have the lawyer present during questioning, as well as the right to a court-appointed attorney if the suspect cannot afford his or her own. The suspect must clearly state their understanding before an interrogation can take place.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore