Criminal Justice System

Topics: Crime, Criminal law, Criminal justice Pages: 5 (1344 words) Published: May 25, 2014


Criminal Justice System
Julia Pearson
CJA/204
May 19, 2014
Ray Cullar, JD
*Criminal Justice System
In this paper I will define crime and its relationship to the law, the government structure and how it applies to the criminal justice system. I will identify choice theories and their assumption to crime. I will explain the components and goals of the criminal justice system and close with my final thoughts on whether the criminal justice system is really a system. What is a crime? A crime by definition is conduct in violation of the criminal laws of a state, the federal government, or a local jurisdiction for which there is no legally acceptable justification or excuse (Schmalleger, 2001, p. 7). What is law? Law by definition is a rule of conduct, generally found enacted in the form of a statute, that proscribes or mandates certain forms of behavior (Schmalleger, 2001, p. 114). The relationship between crime and the law is that without laws on the books there would be no crimes. Society would be in utter chaos. Society uses the consensus model and the conflict model to decide what acts are criminal. In the consensus model society comes together and as a majority decide what is right and wrong behavior and make laws accordingly. These laws are moral based. In the colonial times adultery was a crime where the guilty sentence was corporal punishment. Today adultery is a personal issue not a crime. The conflict model different groups in society will have different ideas of what is right and wrong so whom ever has the power decides what a criminal act is. Our government has three branches, the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. These three branches make up the framework to our criminal justice system. The executive branch in federal, state, and local have the power to appoint judges, heads of the department of corrections, and police chiefs. The legislative branch in federal, state, and local levels decide what criminal acts are and what sentences are for those acts. They also provide the funding for the criminal justice agencies. The judiciary branch is made up of the trial courts which adjudicate the guilt of the person charged with the crime, the appellate courts interrupt the laws according to the constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in our justice system. The precedents it sets are used as the guidelines for lower level courts to reach their conclusions (Schmalleger. 2001. p. 120). There are eight choice theories as to why people commits crimes. These theories are the classical and neoclassical, biological, psychobiological, psychological, sociological, social process, conflict, and emergent(Schmalleger, 2011, p. 80-81). In classical and neoclassical theory crime is caused by exercising your free will. In biological theory crime is caused by criminal genes. In psychobiological theory crime is caused by human dna, nutrition, hormones, physical trauma, body chemistry, and environmental contaminants. In psychological theory crime is caused by a diseased mind or inappropriate behavioral conditioning. In sociological theory crime is caused by the structure of society and the organization or disorganization of society. In social process theory crime is caused by the failure of self-direction, inadequate social roles, or associating with defective others. The conflict theory crime is consequence of social, political, economic inequities. The emergent theory crime is socially constructed (Schmalleger, 2011, p. 80-81) The major components to the criminal justice system the police, the courts, and corrections (CJi, 2014). The police, made up of sheriff and police departments, enforce our laws, investigate crimes, make arrests, and insure public safety (Schmalleger, 2011, p. 17). The courts, made up of judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers, conducts fair and impartial trials, decide criminal cases, ensure due process, impose sentences on the guilty, and provide a check on the...
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