CJA/224 Monday April 15, 2013 The American Criminal Court Systems The American criminal court systems are made up of Federal and State courts. The State court deals mainly with civil, traffic, and family issues. The Federal court handles more serious violations which include federal and government violations and issues between actual states. If the case is either federal or state trial courts determine guilt and convictions. Our court systems are very complex, but recently Community courts have been added and that is used for less offense, and mostly used for mediation.
The Federal court consists are military courts, international courts and trading, and also includes ninety four district courts. The district courts are used for trials and convictions. The Federal court systems also deal with all tax situations. The Federal courts have twelve circuits in the appellate courts. The appellate courts are used for appealing cases that were once heard in trial. If you want to appeal your conviction, the appellate court is where you should have your case heard. The Supreme Court is the highest possible court.
It has nine justices with one chief justice. The Supreme Court only hears about two hundred cases a year, so it is very rare for the justices to accept to hear your case if you chose to try and appeal within the Supreme Court. The dual court system explains that both the Federal and State courts work separately under one judicial government. As I had stated above, the Federal court deals with national law and the State courts deal with state and civil. They both rarely work together, both courts work under one government but work almost completely separate from one another.
The constitution of the United States is based off Federal laws which do apply to the country as a whole, which includes all the states. Federal laws are universal all over the country, as the state laws vary from state to state. Each state has the opportunity to create its own laws for that state, which is why you notice laws are different in one state to another. Our nation follows either common or civil law. Common law was first established in England in the Middle Ages, as civil law first was established in continental Europe around the same time and was also applied o Spain and Portugal. Common law isn’t based on statues as civil law is which can be confusing for most. Civil law is codified, which has shaped our court systems. This allows appropriate punishment for each offense brought to the court room. The Judge has a role to bring all the evidence out in a civil law system and the applicable code is applied to each case. This has shaped our court systems because the American court systems is strongly common law based which was brought from England in the Middle Ages.
Civil law is practiced in America, just in a small amount, mostly in state courts. Louisiana is a great example of the civil law system. Louisiana has a strong French and Spanish influence, and the civil system did once start in England and Spain. The Criminal justice system serves three main purposes in the United States. The three main purposes are to investigate, to prosecute, and to punish crimes. The most basic role in the criminal justice system is to investigate crimes and allegations.
If the law enforcement feels as if the investigation is complete and needs further investigation the cases are sent to the correct attorneys. Prosecuting offenders is another purpose in the criminal justice system. If the alleged crime violated is deserving of prosecution then the cases is taken to court (state court) and is handled by the prosecuting attorney. The criminal justice systems doesn’t only investigate and prosecute, it also punishes offenders for their crimes. There are many different types of punishment which include fines, probation and jail time.
Not only does the criminal justices system punish but it also has programs for prisoners to take once they are released from jail or taken off probation to help them from repeating the crime they were already punished for in the beginning. This is what the criminal justice systems call rehabilitation programs. References: 1. Walker, Samuel (1992). “Origins of the Contemporary Criminal Justice Paradigm: The American Bar Foundation Survey, 1953-1969”. Justice Quarterly 9 (1). 2. Neocleous, Mark (2004). Fabricating Social Order: A Critical History of Police Power. London: Pluto Press. pp. 93–94. ISBN
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