The criminal justice system and the criminal justice process has shaped the laws of this country into what they are today from the concerns of politicians and government leaders as far back as the 1800s with crime control. Basically, the criminal justice system was designed to ensure the safety of individuals whom are citizens of this country. Essentially, the criminal justice system is “the structural basis used to maintain social control” (Education Decisions, 2010).
The criminal justice system has many components that work together to provide justice for criminals and victims of crimes. This enables violators of the law to be prosecuted in a fair trial. The legal definition of a crime is a wrong doing classified by the state or congress as a felony or misdemeanor, or an offense against a public law. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines crime as “an act or the commission of an act that is forbidden or the omission of a duty that is commanded by a public law and that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law” (2010). One of the fundamental theories of the United States criminal justice system is that those on trial remain innocent until proven guilty” (Education Decisions, 2010). For the purposes of this paper, one will examine the criminal justice system and the criminal justice process as it relates to the law. In addition to this, one will discuss the government structure as it applies to the criminal justice system. From here, the reader will understand the various components of law enforcement agencies and how the criminal justice system helps a society maintain social control and order.
The Criminal Justice System and the Law The relationship to the law and the government structure as it applies to the criminal justice system is that there must be unity of act and intent to commit a crime. The structure of the law and government of a crime committed is punishment. Today various forms of punishment exist. Forms of punishment are felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. Felonies are the most serious of crimes, punishable by death or imprisonment in a state prison, of one year or longer.
An example of a felony committed would be an individual convicted of murder, rape, robbery, or larceny. Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that are less serious than felonies and are generally punishable by fines, jail terms of up to a year, or both. (West’s Encyclopedia, 2010). An example of a misdemeanor would be for an individual to be convicted of a traffic violation or jaywalking. Infractions are the least serious of crimes. Infractions are not punishable by imprisonment. “A person charged with an infraction is not entitled to a trial by jury” (California Penal Code, 2010).
Instead, infractions are punishable by monetary fines or restitution amounts. An example of an infraction would be an individual given a speeding ticket or a ticket for running a red light. As one can see, the criminal justice system and the laws set in place are about maintaining social order and control. Components of the Criminal Justice System The criminal justice system consists of various components of law enforcement agencies. Such law enforcement agencies include local police departments, criminal courts, and correctional facilities.
The duties of a local police department should include enforcing the law, investigating crimes, apprehending offenders, serving and protecting individuals, and maintaining public order. Identifying various functions that are done within the criminal court(s) systems are to conduct fair and impartial trials, determine guilt or innocence, impose sentences on the guilty, protect the rights and freedom of individuals facing processing by the justice system, and ensure due process.
The correction agencies carry out the sentences imposed by the courts, to provide a safe and humane facility, and rehabilitate convicted felons. The Process of the Criminal Justice System The process for the criminal justice system begins with an investigation. After it has been determined that a crime has been committed and evidence has been collected an arrest can take place. Following the arrest is the booking process, photos and fingerprints are taken of the suspect. Within hours of an arrest a suspect must be brought before a magistrate.
This process is called first appearance. From here, a preliminary hearing is set forth. This hearing is also known as a preliminary examination. From this hearing it is determined whether there is probable cause to see if a crime has been committed, and if whether or not the defendant committed the crime. The arraignment is where the accused stands before the judge to hear his or her(s) indictment, advised of his or her rights and asked to enter a plea to the courts. Three different pleas exist for a suspect to enter into the courts. The first plea is guilty.
The second plea is not guilty, and the third plea is no contest. Defendants who are being accused of a criminal offense have the right to have adjudication. This is also known as a criminal trial by jury. Once a suspect is convicted of a crime it is now the responsibility of the judge to impose punishment. The punishment is given within the sentencing process which can include supervised probation, a fine, and or a prison term. The correctional facility is the confinement institution where the suspect may serve his or her punishment and begin or complete a treatment program.
As one can see, the criminal justice system process is a detailed process. This process can be lengthy and complex depending on the severity and nature of the crime. Conclusion In conclusion, the criminal justice system and the criminal justice process have shaped the laws of this country. The criminal justice system and its process is an extremely detailed process. This process can be complex to the naked eye if not explained and understood to its entirety. From this, one must understand that crimes are committed on a daily basis.
In order to minimize crime, the criminal justice system is needed and designed to maintain social control and order in all societies. The criminal justice system has many components that work together to provide justice for criminals and victims of crimes. This enables violators of the law to be prosecuted in a fair trial. Furthermore, this helps to ensure the safety and well being of the citizens of the United States.
References Anonymous Author. (2010). Legal definition of crime. Retrieved December 8, 2010 from www. lectalaw. com/deflc330. htm. California Penal Code. 2010). Understanding California Criminal Law. Retrieved December 8, 2010 from www. california-criminal-law. com/penal code. Education Decisions. (2010). The United States Criminal Justice System. Retrieved December 8, 2010 from edudecision. com. Schmalleger, Frank. (2010). Criminal Justice Today. An Introductory Text for the 21st Century. Tenth Edition. Retrieved December 6, 2010 from ecampus. phoenix. edu/eBookLibrary2. West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. (2010). Misdemeanor. Retrieved December 8, 2010 from www. answer. com/topic/misdemeanor.