What is the Criminal Justice System?
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The criminal justice system is the set of agencies and processes established by governments to control crime and impose penalties on those who violate laws. There is no single criminal justice system in the United States but rather many similar, individual systems. How the criminal justice system works in each area depends on the jurisdiction that is in charge: city, county, state, federal or tribal government or military installation. Different jurisdictions have different laws, agencies, and ways of managing criminal justice processes.1 The main systems are: State: State criminal justice systems handle crimes committed within their state boundaries. Federal: The federal criminal justice system handles crimes committed on federal property or in more than one state.
Most criminal justice systems have five components-law enforcement, prosecution, defense attorneys, courts, and corrections, each playing a key role in the criminal justice process. Law Enforcement: Law enforcement officers take reports for crimes that happen in their areas. Officers investigate crimes and gather and protect evidence. Prosecution: Prosecutors are lawyers who represent the state or federal government (not the victim) throughout the court process-from the first appearance of the accused in court until the accused is acquitted or sentenced. Defense Attorneys: Defence attorneys defend the accused against the government’s case. Courts: Courts are run by judges, whose role is to make sure the law is followed and oversee what happens in court. Corrections: Correction officers supervise convicted offenders when they are in jail, in prison, or in the community on probation or parole. How the Criminal Justice Process Works
Below is a basic outline of the sequence of events in the criminal justice process, beginning when the crime is reported or observed. The process may vary according to the jurisdiction, the seriousness of the crime (felony or misdemeanour), whether the accused is a juvenile or an adult, and other factors. Entry into the System
Report: Law enforcement officers receive the crime report from victims, witnesses, or other parties (or witness the crime themselves and make a report). Investigation: Law enforcement investigates the crime.
Motto: To protect, serve and to reassure.
The police are law enforcement officials who are sworn to uphold the law, keep social order, and preserve public safety. Police operate within specific jurisdictions; they exercise discretion- they are the gatekeepers of the criminal justice system. A police force is a constituted body of persons empowered by the state to enforce the law, protect property, and limit civil disorder. Their powers include the legitimized use of force. The term is most commonly associated with police services of a state that are authorized to exercise the police power of that state within a defined legal or territorial area of responsibility. Police forces are often defined as being separate from military or other organizations involved in the defense of the state against foreign aggressors; however, gendarmerie are military units charged with civil policing.