The last two years of academic study have been both challenging and immensely satisfying. They have introduced me to the course and helped me adjust to new concepts and ideas, re-evaluate my opinions and ideas, and develop new perspectives on the world around me, on actions of people, their meanings, and consequences in the legal world.
This milestone allows me to reflect upon my education, to examine what I have learned from the program, and what my strengths and weaknesses are.
Finally, these two years gave me an idea of what I can expect in the following years of my education, and these experiences are my foundation for my current short and long-term plans for the future.
Reflections on Education
These two years have provided me with a solid understanding of my course, what kind of effort and determination it requires of me, and how quickly I can grasp new legal concepts, ideas, and procedures.
During my time in the program, I improved my understanding of the diverse criminal justice lingo and the majority of the technical jargon used in and outside of trials and courtrooms. I also learned about jury trial proceedings, and the major steps through which they progress: the selection of the jury, the trial itself, and the jury deliberations. A lot of focus was placed on the proceeding, and, in class, we studied how it progresses through the attorney’s opening statements, the presentation of evidence and witnesses to the judge and jury, followed by the closing statements of legal defense and prosecution. We studied what motions the attorneys could pass to the judge, and under which conditions they would be accepted or rejected. Finally, we learned about sentencing, its legal and symbolic meaning, and which punishments correlated with which charges.
We also investigated the current trends in policing, about how the police are expanding their mission to include not only reactive, but also proactive policies, to prevent misconduct and crime, build trust with the population, educate it, increase public consciousness, and earn its support. As part of these new trends, we discussed community-oriented policing, which focuses on the police working in close cooperation with community members. Specifically, we learned how it sought to achieve these goals through building interprofessional partnerships with other government and non-profit organizations, private businesses, the media, and, of course, the communities themselves.
We studied some of the procedures in the civil and common law. For example, due to its importance for the validity of trials, we had an in-depth study of the search and seizure procedures, what constitutes a reasonable and unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the importance of a warrant for a legal search. We also studied what actions the police officers could and could not do under the condition that they possessed a warrant, and what could cause the evidence found during a search to fall under the exclusionary rule and be susceptible to a “motion to suppress.”
One of the harder aspects of the course was the Criminal Theory, the study of motives that push people to commit crimes.
While all of these subjects were both interesting to various degrees, I found that some topics attracted me more, while I had more difficulties with others.
I felt quite comfortable studying trial procedures, and particularly enjoyed the case studies. These case studies allowed the class to apply their skills like how they would do so in actual legal work, for example, by building a plan of defense for a person who has broken the law. Exercises like this one allowed me to comprehend the responsibilities of attorneys better, the ethical conflicts they might face when helping a person guilty of a crime, and how to interpret laws both truthfully and to the benefit of the client.
My strongest area is Search and Seizure procedures, and the Fourth Amendment. I have a clear understanding of the proper procedure associated with this subject, of their legal foundations, and of the mistakes that can occur. I know to both avoid such errors, and to exploit them if I have to. However, I feel that I need to work on my comprehension of the Criminal Theory, and its supporting theories of criminal behavior, like the Choice Theory, Classical Theory, and the others, and how to apply them in practice.
By reaching this first milestone, I have accumulated enough knowledge about my skills and preferences, to begin shaping my plans for the near and far future. My principal current interest lies in getting accepted to the Army Criminal Investigation Division Program and starting Bachelors Degree classes (Army Criminal Investigation Division Program (31D), n.d.). These criminal investigators are responsible for investigating Army-related criminal investigations and allegations of felony-level crimes, up to terrorism, treason, and espionage.
This ties directly into my long-term goals, as I want to receive a bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science eventually (Bachelors in Forensic Science Degrees and Career, n.d.). I need it to become a warrant officer in the Criminal Investigation Department program. While this will put me in a position where I will be able to command subordinates, my foremost interest is to serve as a technical expert in Forensic Science and provide my skills, expertise, and general guidance.
In conclusion, these two years have allowed me to determine my interests and goals for years in the future. It allowed me to see where my strengths are, and what areas I have to improve to achieve my ambitions.
Army Criminal Investigations Special Agent (31D). (n.d.). Web.
Bachelors in Forensic Science Degrees and Career. (n.d.). Web.