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The United States uses a dual court system:


1. State Courts:

Hear cases involving violations of state statutes


2. Federal Courts:

Hear cases involving violations of acts of congress

(federal statutes)

Definitions:


Jurisdiction: Authority or power to hear or handle a case


General Jurisdiction: Court can hear a variety of cases


Specific or Limited Jurisdiction: Can hear a narrow range of cases


Venue: The place of trial;  Normally, the trial will take place where the offense was

committed. The Venue will change if the defendant can show that he/she will

not be able to receive a fair trial in the original jurisdiction



Prosecutors:

1. Regarded as the most powerful person in the Criminal

Justice System

*Referred to as: District Attorney

                 State’s Attorney

                 County Attorney

                 Commonwealth Attorney

A Federal Prosecutor is referred to as a  U.S. Attorney


2. The prosecutor is said to represent the community in

bringing charges against a person


3. The District Attorney, State's Attorney, Commonwealth

Attorney are elected officials, who appoint Assistant

District/State's attorneys


4. The U.S. Attorney is appointed by the President, and

appoints Assistant U.S. Attorneys

The Prosecutors Role:


  1. 1.Decides what, if any, charges will be    

    filed against a particular person


  1. 2.Decides on legal issues such as:        

  2. - obtaining search warrants  

  3. - obtaining subpoenas

    - obtaining arrest warrants


  1. 3.Oversees Grand Jury proceedings


  1. 4.Makes bail recommendations


  1. 5.Makes sentence recommendations


6. Decides on Plea bargains vs trial

Criminal Defense Attorneys


Represents the legal rights of the accused in a  

criminal proceeding




The Role of Presiding Judges:


1. Objectively assess the strength of a case

2. Rule on issues of law and procedure

3. Sometimes determine guilt or innocence

(bench trials)

4. Sentence convicted offenders

Definitions:


Jurisdiction: Authority or power to hear or handle a case


General Jurisdiction: Court can hear a variety of cases


Specific or Limited Jurisdiction: Can hear a narrow range of cases


Venue: The place of trial;  Normally, the trial will take place where the offense was

committed. The Venue will change if the defendant can show that he/she will

not be able to receive a fair trial in the original jurisdiction