Criminal Justice 101

Topics: Crime, Criminal law, Supreme Court of the United States Pages: 8 (2648 words) Published: September 23, 2008
Question 1


The court structure in Kansas consists of four levels and they are the municipal court, district court, the court of appeals and the supreme court. All four levels are important and play slightly different roles depending on the crime.

The municipal court is where people go when they have speeding, stop sign tickets, misdemeanor traffic violations, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving with a suspended license and expired plates. They may also hear animal ordinance public offense cases as well. In municipal court you will have an arraignment where you are able to please guilty, not guilty or no contest. You do have the right to an attorney but this court does not have jury trials. Jail time or fines are usually what happens when you are found guilty.

District courts are created by the Constitution. They are the trial courts of Kansas with jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, including divorce and domestic relations, damage suits, probate and administration of estates, guardianships, conservatorships, care of the mentally ill, juvenile matters, and small claims. It is here that the criminal and civil jury trials are held. Appeals may be taken from the district courts to the Court of Appeals and in some cases to the Supreme Court.

The court of appeals is where you would go after the district court if you are looking to appeal a conviction. The court of appeals judges ordinarily do not conduct trials. They decide an appealed case by reading the trial and written briefs filed by the parties, and hearing arguments by the lawyers. They research and review the law involved in the case and then write an opinion.

The supreme court is often called the court of last resort, because this is the last place to go to try and appeal a conviction. Justices of the Supreme Court ordinarily do not conduct trials. They decide an appealed case by reading the record of the trial and briefs filed by the parties, and hearing arguments of lawyers. They research the law involved in the case and then write an opinion.


In the United States today, there is no standard when it comes to punishment and sentencing. This area of the criminal justice system is one that is in constant flux. Sentencing practices and goals are always under scrutiny. From "getting tough on crime" to more rehabilitative approaches, the views and goals of sentencing are ever-changing.

Today there are many things the criminal justice system aims to do by imposing punishments and sentences. Goals of punishment have moved from satisfying the victim, as in early days, to more of a broad scale. There are theories on how punishment and sentencing may serve to reduce crime as a whole. General and specific deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, retribution, and restoration are just some of these goals.

General deterrence is the idea that people refrain from crime because they fear the punishment that others have received. This means that one might be dissuaded from committing a crime if he/she knows it carries a harsh punishment. Critics of this theory point out that many criminals do not take the time to consider punishment. Many of them do not believe they will be the one to get caught. Also, general deterrence does not take into account the frame of mind a criminal is in at the time of the commission of a crime. Specific deterrence is similar to general deterrence, but on a smaller scale. It assumes that a swift and severe punishment will sway criminals from committing an act again. You can compare specific deterrence to disciplining a child. You hope that by disciplining a child for misbehaving, they will stop the unwanted action. Unfortunately in the criminal world, this doesn't always work.

A criminal cannot commit new crimes on the street when they are locked up in a prison. This is the idea behind incapacitation.. Incapacitation includes imprisonment, as well as the ultimate incapacitator,...
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