United States

The United States criminal justice system has a court system that is categorized in different groups. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States, and for cases to arrive at this court, they must pass through a variety of courts and have a constitutional implication for the nation.

There are also state, appellate, and local courts that serve jurisdictions in which criminal cases are initially held and decided by a jury or a judge. Certain crimes such as fraud can be tried in the criminal courts, but some fraud cases can also be brought within the civil justice system. The civil courts, another set of courts, provide judgments over civil cases.

Criminal cases are heard in criminal courts where, at the conclusion of the trial, the defendant may receive sentences of incarceration or fines as a result of being convicted at the criminal trial.

In a civil court, a person (plaintiff) pursues a civil action against another person (defendant), which may result from a criminal action of the defendant, an accidental action by the defendant, or a disagreement between the plaintiff and the defendant.

Please answer the following questions in a 2–4-page paper. As you answer each question, you must provide support or evidence that will enhance and support your answers. Academic criminal justice articles or real-life criminal justice findings that are not found in journals or other academic sources must be used in supporting your answers. Please use APA style for all cited sources, including your References page.

  • Court System
    • What is the dual-court system(civil/criminal), and why does America have a dual-court system?
    • Court unification involves consolidating many lower courts of special or limited jurisdiction into a centrally run court system. The federal district courts hear both civil and criminal cases in the same courtrooms, heard by the same judge. Could a large, single court system like the federal district courts be an effective system at the state level? Consider how it would change the court system in your state.
  • Judges
    • Judges have specific philosophical rationales and sentencing guidelines when providing a judgment over presented facts.
      • If you were a judge, what would be your sentencing goals and philosophical rationales? Why?
      • Would you lean more toward rehabilitation, for example, or might you tend toward retribution?
      • What factors would matter most to you when deciding a sentence?
      • Under what circumstances (if any) would your guidelines or sentencing goals change?
  • What is an example of a situation that might be extremely difficult to judge that could make you change your sentencing goals or philosophical rationales?