2 The American Court Structure The U.S. has a dual court system.dual courtOne system of state and local courts and another system of federal courts.
3 The American Court Structure The court’s jurisdiction is set by law and limited by territory and type of case.jurisdictionThe authority of a court to hear and decide cases.
4 The Federal CourtsThe authority for the federal court system is in the Constitution. The system includes:The Supreme CourtThe federal courts of appealsThe federal district courts
5 United States District Courts Trials in federal district court are usually heard by a judge.General trial courtsFederal criminal cases involve:Bank robberyCounterfeitingMail fraudKidnappingCivil rights abuses
6 Circuit Courts of Appeals A party that loses a case in district court may appeal to a federal circuit court of appeals, or in some cases, directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
7 Circuit Courts of Appeals Circuit courts of appeals review a case for errors of law, not of fact.Normally, three judges sit as a panel to hear cases. Jury trials are not allowed.West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina are in Circuit 4
8 The United States Supreme Court Court of last resort in all questions of federal law and U.S. Constitution.The court may hear cases:Appealed from federal courts of appeal.Appealed directly from federal district courts.Appealed from the high court of a state, if claims under federal law or the Constitution are involved.
9 The United States Supreme Court The U.S. Supreme Court is composed of:A chief justiceEight associate justicesEach member of the court is appointed for life by the president and affirmed by the Senate.
10 The United States Supreme Court In order for a case to be heard by the Supreme Court, at least four justices must vote to hear the case.
11 The United States Supreme Court When the court decides a case, it can:Affirm the decision of the lower court and “let it stand.”Modify the decision of the lower court, without totally reversing it.continued…
12 The United States Supreme Court Reverse the decision of the lower court, requiring no further court action.Reverse the decision of the lower court and remand the case to the court of original jurisdiction, for either retrial or resentencing.
13 The State CourtsThe state courts have general power to decide nearly every type of case.There are generally four levels of state courts:Trial courts: District Court: one per countyProbable cause hearings for felony cases, all domestic relations cases, and civil cases involving amounts of $10,000 or less.Trial courts: Superior Court: 39 Judicial DistrictsGeneral jurisdiction trial court for the state & civil cases involving amounts over $10,000.Court of appeals:12 judges sit in panels of 3 judgesState Supreme Court:Chief Justice & 6 associate justicesAlways hears constitutional questions. Also hears when requested by the state in criminal cases; where delay could case harm.
14 Key Actors in the Court Process The three key actors in the court process are:The prosecutorThe defense attorneyThe judge
15 The ProsecutorThe prosecutor is a powerful actor in the administration of justice. Prosecutors have the authority to:Decide whether to charge or not charge a person with a crimeDecide whether to prosecute or not prosecute a caseDetermine what the charge will be
16 The Decision to Plea-Bargain Probably the most strategic source of power available to prosecutors is their authority to decide which cases to plea bargain.Justice in America is dispensed mostly through plea bargaining.
17 The Defense AttorneyThe Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right to the “effective assistance” of counsel. Defendants have a right to counsel during many stages in the criminal justice process
18 The Defense AttorneyA defendant may waive the right to counsel and appear on his or her own behalf.In the American system of justice, the role of defense counsel is to provide the best possible legal counsel and advocacy within the legal and ethical limits of the profession.
19 The Court-Appointed Lawyer In some circumstances, defendants who cannot afford a lawyer are provided with a court-appointed, private attorney.If they are paid at all, court-appointed private attorneys are paid a nominal sum.Many are not knowledgeable in criminal law.
20 The Public DefenderIn many large jurisdictions, people who cannot afford an attorney are provided with public defenders.
21 The JudgeJudges have a variety of responsibilities in the criminal justice process:Determining probable causeSigning warrantsInforming suspects of their rightsSetting and revoking bailcontinued…
22 The Judge Arraigning defendants Accepting guilty pleas In some jurisdictions, managing their own courtrooms and staffAllowing the jury a fair chance to reach a verdict on the evidence presented
23 Lower State CourtsLocal Court in small towns are called Justice Court and the judge is called a justice of peace.Local Courts in larger towns are called magistrate courts. They handle minor cases as traffic violations or disturbing the peace. They can also handle civil cases less than $1,000.Judges are elected by the public in a general election.State Supreme Court Judges are elected for an 8 year term.
24 Bail and Other Methods of Pretrial Release A bail bond or bail allows suspects or defendants to remain free while awaiting the next stage in the adjudication process.It is not a fine, but an incentive to appear.
25 bail bond or bailUsually a monetary guarantee deposited with the court that is supposed to ensure that the suspect or defendant will appear at a later stage in the criminal justice process.
26 Bail and Other Methods of Pretrial Release The amount of bail generally depends on:The likelihood that the suspect or defendant will appear in court as requiredThe seriousness of the crimeThe suspect’s prior criminal recordJail conditions and overcrowding
27 Bail and Other Methods of Pretrial Release If a judge believes that a suspect or defendant would pose a threat to the community, the judge can refuse to set bail.
28 Bail and Other Methods of Pretrial Release For people who cannot afford to post bail, professional bonds people are available to post it for them for a nonrefundable fee, typically 10% of the required amount.Suspects who post their own bail get it all back after they appear.
29 Bail and Other Methods of Pretrial Release When the crime is minor and suspects or defendants have ties to the community, they are generally released on their own recognizance.
30 Bail and Other Methods of Pretrial Release Other nonfinancial releases are:Conditional releaseUnsecured bond
31 conditional release unsecured bond A form of release that requires that a suspect/defendant maintain contact with a pretrial release program or undergo regular drug monitoring or treatment.unsecured bondAn arrangement in which bail is set but no money is paid to the court.
32 Grand JuryThe alternative to filing an information is a grand jury. Used for felony cases.
33 grand juryGenerally a group of 12 to 23 citizens who meet in closed sessions to investigate charges coming from preliminary hearings or to engage in other responsibilities. A primary purpose of the grand jury is to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that the accused committed the crime or crimes.
34 Grand JuryBefore appearing before a grand jury, the prosecutor drafts an indictment.indictmentA document that outlines the charge or charges against a defendant.
35 Grand JuryBecause the grand jury has to determine only probable cause:Only the prosecution’s evidence and witnesses are heardIn most jurisdictions, the defendant does not have a right to be presentProsecutors are allowed to present hearsay or illegally obtained evidence
36 Grand JuryIn addition, prosecutors have the authority to subpoena witnesses.
37 Grand JuryIn practice, the grand jury system is criticized for merely providing a rubber stamp for whatever the prosecutor wants to do.Suspects waive the right to a grand jury hearing in about 80% of cases.
38 Plea BargainingJustice in the U.S. is dispensed mostly through plea bargaining. There are three basic types of plea bargains:The defendant may be allowed to plead guilty to a lesser offense.A defendant who pleads guilty may receive a lighter sentence.A defendant may plead guilty to one charge in exchange for the prosecutor’s promise to drop another charge.
39 Plea BargainingThe bargain a prosecutor will strike generally depends on three factors:The seriousness of the offenseThe defendant’s criminal recordThe strength of the prosecutor’s case
40 Plea BargainingThere is neither a constitutional basis nor a statutory basis for plea bargaining.Plea bargaining developed out of custom, but has been upheld by the Supreme Court.
41 Plea BargainingPlea bargaining is widely used because of several factors:It reduces uncertainty in the criminal justice process.It serves the interest of the participantsProsecutors get high conviction rates.Judges reduce their caseload.continued…
42 Plea BargainingDefense attorneys spend less time on each case and avoid expensive trials.Defendants get lighter sentences than they might have gotten from juries, and can avoid conviction on stigmatizing crimes such as child abuse.
43 Review QuestionsCongress has two houses. One house has a membership based on population to address the needs of the large states. In the other house, each state has two votes to address the needs of smaller states. This is an example of which concept?a. Amendment b. Compromisec. Freedom d. Treaty“The person was appointed to bring the opposing sides together, to provide an atmosphere in which both sides could express their opinions and could respond to one another.” What is the person described in the statement called?a. A mediator b. an entrepreneurc. An economist d. A manager
44 What does the policy of “innocent until proven guilty” mean? a. The accused must prove innocenceb. The trial must be held quicklyc. The burden of proof is on the prosecutord. The state must have DNA to prove guiltWhat is due process?a. A condition of slaveryb. A search orderc. The right to voted. Fair action by the government
45 Answers to Review Questions Congress has two houses. One house has a membership based on population to address the needs of the large states. In the other house, each state has two votes to address the needs of smaller states. This is an example of which concept?a. Amendment b. Compromisec. Freedom d. Treaty“The person was appointed to bring the opposing sides together, to provide an atmosphere in which both sides could express their opinions and could respond to one another.” What is the person described in the statement called?a. A mediator b. an entrepreneurc. An economist d. A manager
46 Answers to Review Questions What does the policy of “innocent until proven guilty” mean?a. The accused must prove innocenceb. The trial must be held quicklyc. The burden of proof is on the prosecutord. The state must have DNA to prove guiltWhat is due process?a. A condition of slaveryb. A search orderc. The right to voted. Fair action by the government