Criminal Justice in the USA

Seen as a way of mitigating crime, criminal justice plays a large role in American society for the practitioner and the accused. All persons are presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers. Through a sequence of events; those charged with a crime enter a series of prosecution and pretrial motions, court proceedings and arraignment, sentencing and the correctional institutions when one is incarcerated. All persons in the criminal justice system are provided the right to legal counsel if they cannot obtain their own as a way to ensure that everyone has the right to a fair and speedy trial.

The criminal justice system can be broken into three parts: the legislative branch that establishes laws, adjudication or the court systems that offer the verdict and the corrections departments that run and maintain prisons and the probation and/or parole of those charged with crimes. One of the main ways to keep criminal justice monitored in the United States is through police jurisdiction whether they are local or state police all the way up to a federal agent working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, or one of the other three letter agencies representing American interests.

The criminal justice field has developed immensely since its inception into society; as the days of electric chairs and hangings are no longer part of punishment for offenders of any degree. The two different types of law followed in the United States are civil law which deal with public grievances and criminal law which deals with dangerous and/or harmful acts against a person or society as a whole. In order to be convicted of a civil crime, one must be proven that it is highly likely the committed the crime whereas a criminal case must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did commit the crime they are being arraigned for.  

Crimes can occur from something as drastic as a felony (murder, rape, arson, etc.) to a misdemeanor such as public intoxication (i.e. something not capable of reaching felony status). Crime can also occur in many facets of life: violent crime, property crime (burglary, arson, etc.), white collar (insider trading), to even cyber (such as bullying or hacking networks). Constitutional Amendments exist for the protection of the accused such as protection against unlawful search and seizures (fourth), the due process of law, protection against double jeopardy or being charged twice, the right of not self-incriminating (fifth), a fair and speedy trial (sixth) and the prohibiting of excessive bail and fine (eighth). All of these to include the reading of one’s Miranda rights, to let them know what they are allowed via the Constitution, allow for the criminal justice system to run smoothly without violating anyone’s inherent human rights.

The criminal justice system is a vast undertaking for police and lawyers, but given just a small synopsis of what can be governed to the people from years of development. The criminal justice system in America puts hundreds of thousands of people behind bars each year both African American, white, Hispanic, male, female, young and old. Although prevention of crime is key to establishing a better society, criminal justice professionals ensure the rights of the accused all the same.

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