Criminal Courts : Structure, Process, and Issues

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2008-01-01
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
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What is included with this book?


Criminal justice and law textbook discussing the core structure, processes and issues of criminal courts in the United States. Includes an ancillary test bank, and complete coverage of plea bargaining and its controversies. Also discusses key federal and state cases concerning defendants' rights and court actions. DLC: Criminal justice, Administration of--United States

Table of Contents

1. Law: The Legal Battlefield.
2. The Structure of American Courts.
3. The Prosecution.
4. The Defense.
5. Judges.
6. Juries.
7. Pretrial Procedures: Initial Appearance, Bail Decision Making, and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
8. Pretrial Procedures: Plea Bargaining.
9. Trial Process and Procedures.
10. Sentencing and Appeals.
11. Juvenile Courts, Juvenile Rights, and Processing.
12. Courts, Media, and the Litigation Explosion.


Criminal Courts: Structure, Process, and Issuesis about processing criminal offenders from the point when they are arrested and charged with crimes. This book provides a comprehensive examination of the trial process by which their guilt or innocence is ascertained by a judge or a jury.The book begins with an examination of law and its social and political origins. Law is as ancient as time itself. Despite the different eras into which scholars have divided world history, the pervasiveness and continuity of law are apparent. Laws have always existed in one form or another, largely intended to fulfill the same general purposes regardless of the culture. The major functions of law are social control, dispute resolution, and social change. Over time, technology has changed and social ideas have evolved that have contributed to how people orient themselves to others. Whether through verbal traditions passed from one generation to another in simple societies or in lengthy compendia in more complex social systems, the primary objectives of law have remained constant over time.Laws can be differentiated according to whether they pertain to civil or criminal matters. Statements about what the law says and how people should comport themselves in the company of others have to do with substantive law. In less complex social systems, substantive law tended to be espoused by the courts in the form of common law. Common law is traditional, dependent on the particular needs and desires of groups of people living together. As social systems have become increasingly complex, more elaborate legal schemes and more formal mechanisms have been devised to maintain the social order and regulate human conduct. How the law should be applied is the province of procedural law. In the United States, one of the world's most complex legal systems has been contrived. Today, there are all types of laws pertaining to different aspects of our society. These laws are either civil or criminal, and a whole body of law focuses on administrative law.It is a legal reality that applications of the law from the beginning of time have favored particular interests over others. Some people believe that our laws have been created to preserve the status quo for those who possess political and economic power. Thus, there are inherent disparities wherever applications of the law are implemented. Historically, those suffering most from legal disparities have been women, children, and minorities. In recent decades, sociolegal movements have prompted substantial social changes in response to disparate treatment of minorities and women in the courts. From these movements, different types of sociological jurisprudence, legal realism, critical legal studies, and feminist legal theories have emerged.Understanding the laws of the United States begins with a critical examination and description of the dual court system in this country. The principal components of the dual court system are federal and state court apparatuses. Chapter 2 describes federal and state court organization and various functions of these different types of courts. There are diverse court systems, and there is little continuity across states concerning what these different courts should be called. We do not have a universal nomenclature that can be applied to all state and local courts at various levels. However, there is considerable continuity within the federal court system. Federal and state court jurisdictions are distinguished, and the processes and functions of different types of courts are described and discussed.The court work group consists of the same types of actors in both federal and state jurisdictions. The government has created a prosecutorial system that enforces the laws passed by the different legislatures. Whenever one or more of these laws are violated, prosecutors at the state or federal level act against alleged offenders to bring them to just

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