Criminal Justice System and its Purpose

What is the Criminal Justice System

The criminal justice system is a set of government agencies and institutions whose target is to identify the unlawful actions and catch the unlawful individuals to inflict a form of punishment on them. This process established by governments to control the crime and impose penalties on the criminals and those who violate laws.

The functioning of the criminal justice system varies from region to region and depends on the jurisdiction that is a charge. Different jurisdictions have different agencies, laws, and ways of managing criminal justice processes.

The main systems of the criminal justice system are state and federal.

State: The criminal justice system associated with state handles the crimes that are committed within their state boundaries.

Federal: The criminal justice system associated with the federal handles crimes committed on the federal property or in more than one state.

What is its Purpose?

A system is formed for a certain purpose or to have a specific function and so does the criminal justice system. The Criminal justice system is formed with a specific purpose of delivering justice for all, protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty and helping them to give up offending.

3 Major Components of Criminal Justice

The criminal justice system comprises of various components that feature various functions to be performed, out of which the criminal justice system tags three of them as the major components of its system.

So, the three major components of the criminal justice system are:

  • Law enforcement
  • Courts
  • Corrections and rehabilitation

These distinct components in the criminal justice system operate together as the principal means of maintaining the rule of law in society.

Here is the detailed information of the three major components in the criminal justice system.

  • Law Enforcement

The first component is the law enforcement component, which usually deals with police activities. The police have the initial contact with the actual criminal activity. The functions of police include recording statements, gathering evidence, investigating, arresting the offenders, and providing the testimony in the court.

Upon all, when the cops initially take a suspect into custody, they must read the Miranda rights (the basic rights one has that include one’s right to remain silent, right to an attorney and right against self-incrimination) to the suspect.

  • Courts

The very next major component of the criminal justice system is the court system. After all the formal charges against the criminal are filed, a legal case against the criminal will be commenced.

The court system includes the prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges who perform different functions in the court and for the criminal offenders.

Prosecutors – Files charges against the offender. The prosecution is a situation where the accused are faced with the charges and consequences for their crimes. The attorneys who handle these cases are referred to as prosecutors.

The prosecutor represents the state they work in and file the charges against the offenders. The charges are formal laws the offender violates when committing the crime.

Defense attorneys – The defense attorneys represent the offenders, support them and claim the charges filed against the offenders to be false. The defense attorney in the criminal justice system plays a critical role because these attorneys require a defense for the offenders while ensuring that the offender’s rights are protected.

The defense attorneys can be appointed to the offenders, who cannot afford to hire one for themselves.

Judges – They preside over the case. The judges are considered to hold the superior authority in the criminal justice system as his judgment would be considered as the final statement for the case.

They are the deciders of the case and hold the responsibility of result or output of judgment. They have to ensure that the criminal offender is punished and the innocent are protected.

  • Corrections and rehabilitations

The third major component of the criminal justice system is the corrections and rehabilitation. This component comes into the play when the criminal offender is proved to be at false and all the charges charged against him are proved.

This component comprises of correction officers. They supervise the convicted offenders when they are in jail, in prison or in the community on probation or parole.

In some communities, the functions of correction officers are to prepare a pre-sentencing report after gathering extensive background information of the criminal offender in order to help the judges decide the judgment.

The job of the correction officer to ensure the facilities that hold offenders are safe and secure. They oversee the custody of inmates and also the release process of in-mates, they also notify the victims of changes in the offender’s status.

Structure of the Criminal Justice System

Structure of the criminal justice system refers to the undergoing process when an individual is suspected to be the offender.

The basic outline of the sequences of events in the criminal justice process is provided below. The outline includes the series of events from the beginning when the crime is reported or brought to the notice.

The structure may vary because of a few factors such as:

  • Jurisdiction
  • Seriousness of crime
  • Whether the accused is juvenile or adult
  • Other factors

Not all cases follow the same procedure or the process and not all the cases directly follow the below sequence, it all depends on the factors and the offender.

There are many crimes that aren’t prosecuted because they are not reported because no suspects are identified, or because the evidence available was not enough for the prosecutor to build the case.

# First stage – Entry into the System

The functions in this stage are:

  • Report
  • Investigation
  • Arrest or Citation

# Second stage – Prosecution and Pretrial

The list of functions comprising in this stage are:

  • Charges
  • First court Appearance
  • Bail or Bond
  • Grand Jury or Preliminary Hearing
  • Arraignment

# Third stage – Adjudication (Trial process)

The functions in this stage are:

  • Plea Agreements
  • Trial

# Fourth stage – Post-Trial

The functions in this stage are:

  • Sentencing
  • Probation o Parole

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