Melissa Berry, Ph.D.
An exploratory questionnaire was developed to assess participants’ knowledge of American rights during criminal proceedings, their confidence in that knowledge, and whether their experiences, professional or recreational, are associated with that knowledge. Questionnaire items covered topics such as Bill of Rights, Miranda Rights, Interviews and Interrogations, Rights During Trial, and Post-Conviction Rights. Demographic variables assessed field of study/employment, encounters with the Criminal Justice System, and viewership of crime-based television shows. Responses were analyzed in an attempt to find patterns in knowledge. Results showed that participants were most knowledgeable regarding the Bill of Rights, rights during a criminal trial, and post-conviction rights; participants were least knowledgeable regarding Miranda rights and general rights during police interviews and interrogations. Confidence in participants’ responses varied, but they were least confident in correct answers when responding to questions on post-conviction rights and most confident in incorrect answers when responding to questions on rights during police interviews and interrogations. A significant gender difference was found for confidence, but no associations were found among correctness, confidence, and other demographic variables. More education is necessary for both citizens and law enforcement in order to increase awareness of people’s rights. Increased knowledge of rights will likely increase people’s confidence and encourage them to exercise those rights, helping to more fully protect themselves when engaged in the Criminal Justice System.
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Legal Studies | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences
Marchiony, Anna, "You Have the Right to…What? A Study of Knowledge of Americans’ Rights in Criminal Proceedings" (2017). Honors Theses. 109.