Criminal Justice System

Dale and Mike Parak were twin brothers and best friends. They spent their entire lives looking out for each other’s interests. While growing up, the two were inseparable. They played sports together, double-dated frequently, and attended the same university. They grew closer as they aged, they got married at about the same time, and eventually, both were divorced. After they retired from their jobs, they decided to live together to save money, and they still enjoyed each other’s company.

When he was 70 years old, Mike was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors predicted that he had about 6 months to live. The brothers agreed that Mike should not suffer. Mike and Dale wrote and signed a note stating that they decided to commit suicide. Dale broke 20 tranquilizers into Mike’s evening meal and watched as he ate it. Yet, when Dale checked on Mike 1 hour later, Mike was still alive. Dale panicked. He took a .38-caliber revolver from his desk and shot Mike, killing him instantly. Dale then went into the kitchen and took a handful of tranquilizers. He did not die. He awoke the next morning as somebody pounded on the front door. It was a neighbor who, seeing that Dale was dazed and confused, decided to call an ambulance and the police.

The responding police officer conducted an investigation, and Dale was arrested and charged with the premeditated, first-degree murder of Mike. The prosecutor, although noting it to be a difficult case, pursued the case because she thought that no citizen had the right to decide when someone should die. Dale Parak pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 5 years in a maximum-security prison. (Note: This was the lowest sentence that could be given to a defendant convicted of his crime.)

In a 2–3-page paper, address the following:

  • Justice: 
    • What is the formal definition of justice? What is your personal definition of justice
    • How was justice served in this scenario from both perspectives—formal definition and personal definition? 
  • Charges: 
    • Do you agree with the prosecutor’s decision to charge Dale with first-degree murder? 
    • How did Dale commit (or not commit) each of the components and elements of the crime? 
      • The elements for first-degree, premeditated murder are: 
        1. the unlawful killing 
        2. with malice aforethought 
        3. of another human being 
    • If you disagreed with the prosecutor’s decision in this case, what charge would you have filed against Dale? 
  • Sentencing: 
    • Was this sentence just based on the definitions of justice that you provided? Why or why not? 
  • If you were the judge in this case, how would you have sentenced Dale Parak? Why?
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