Criminal justice is a disciplinary that integrates the physical science, psychology, criminology, sociology and political science. The role of criminal justice professionals includes victim advocates, law enforcement officers, the criminal rehabilitation specialist and forensic investigators
The criminal justice system is a system used to impose penalties to violators of the law and to control crimes. The two main systems are state criminal justice system that handles state boundaries crimes and federal which is mandated to control crimes committed on federal property.
The main components in criminal justice systems includes law enforcement where officers investigates crimes and take report for it and gather evidence. Officers give testimony during court proceedings and arrest offenders.
A prosecutor decides whether to file charges or drop the case depending on the evidence presented. Evidence is presented in court by prosecutors, question witnesses either to bargain with defendants or to negotiate. Choices are made on how to prosecute the case and the victim may keep in touch with the prosecutor who is in charge of the case to gather information and to give information to the prosecutor if the victim has being contacted by defense attorney.
Defendant is defended by attorney against the government’s case. Defense attorney is either hired by the defendant and some assigned by court if defendant cannot afford an attorney. Defense attorney represents the defendant and prosecutor represents the state.
A judge oversees and ensures proceedings are followed according to the law in the court. Offenders are released before trials in accordance to court ruling. Judges oversee trials, accept or reject and sentence convicted offenders.
Convicted offenders are supervised by correction officer in prisons, in the community on probation and in jail. Security and safety of offenders is enhanced by correction officers and oversee inmates in custody and informs inmate’s status changes.
Criminal justices processes defer according to various factors for instance jurisdiction, whether the accused is an adult or a juvenile and seriousness of the crime. Firstly, law enforcement officers gather crime report from witnesses, victims or other parties. An officer investigates the crime and arrests the suspected parties. Suspects are arrested if enough evidence is presented or citation is issued. The case remains open due to lack of enough evidence and failure to find a suspect.
Prosecutor either files written charges according to the evidence given or the accused is released without prosecution. The accused make the first court appearance to be informed of his or her rights and his charges. Defendant is released on bail, bond or one’s own recognizance where bail entails to give cash or other valuables to the court which act as a guarantee that the accused will appear in trial.
Preliminary hearing or grand jury where the accused is released or indicted after the evidence is presented before the court. The defendant may plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest which determines whether to be sentenced or trial to be held. Trial is not held where defendant pleads to be guilty, plea agreement is negotiated or no contest.
Plea agreement means recommendation of minimum sentence, lesser degree of charged offense and recommendation for a lenient sentence after the accused has agreed to plead guilty. The defendant approval is not required by the prosecutor in case of plea agreement.
If defendant pleads not guilty, trial is held before judges where evidence is presented by the prosecutor and defense attorney and witnesses are questioned. If proven guilty, the verdict awaits for sentence and if found not guilty defendants are released.
The defendant may be sentenced to be jailed or imprisonment, probation, fines, restitution where the victim is paid or the penalty of death. The offender may be placed on probation after jail or prison suspension by the judge. Offenders must adhere to the condition set during probation failure to which imprisonment or being jailed comes in.
Information and guidance is needed by a victim in order to stay safe throughout the criminal justice process and to know the kind of choices to be made.
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