The criminal justice system can be overwhelming, intimidating, and confusing for anyone who does not work within it every day. As a victim, you will need to know what to expect and have support throughout the process. You will also want to know your rights and the choices you may have to make. For example, if you are harassed or stalked by the offender at any point in the criminal justice process, you should immediately report these violations to the police and inform the prosecutor.
Also, while the offender is in jail or prison, the corrections staff is generally required to notify you if the offender is released or escapes or if a parole hearing is pending, if you request such notification. Also, most states have automated notification systems that allow registered victims those who sign up to check on the status of an offender at any time. Such systems will automatically notify you of an inmate's escape or release. See www. Readers may find it helpful to consult their local victim assistance program, local prosecutor's office, state attorney general's office, local or state bar association, or local law library for information specific to their own area or jurisdictions.
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Defense attorneys sometimes contact victims about their case. Victims do not have to talk to defense attorneys or their investigators and are encouraged to contact the prosecutor if they have any concerns about such requests.
Felonies are punishable by more than one year in prison; misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail. All rights reserved. This information may be freely distributed, provided that it is distributed free of charge, reprinted in its entirety, and includes this copyright notice. All Rights Reserved. Box , Arlington, VA p. Log in. Membership Member Login Become a Member. Taking Action Victim Recovery Checklists. Upcoming Trainings Archived Trainings. Protocol Resources. Trainings Webinar Archive. Project Sites Publications. National Conference Presentations.
Welcome to the National Center for Victims of Crime We are the nation's leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. What Is It? Federal: The federal criminal justice system handles crimes committed on federal property or in more than one state. System Components Most criminal justice systems have five components-law enforcement, prosecution, defense attorneys, courts, and corrections, each playing a key role in the criminal justice process.
Law Enforcement: Law enforcement officers take reports for crimes that happen in their areas. Officers investigate crimes and gather and protect evidence. Law enforcement officers may arrest offenders, give testimony during the court process, and conduct follow-up investigations if needed. Prosecution: Prosecutors are lawyers who represent the state or federal government not the victim throughout the court process-from the first appearance of the accused in court until the accused is acquitted or sentenced.
Federal courts are often used to hear civil cases, and criminal cases are generally not decided at the federal level. Bankruptcy, federal claims, veteran appeals and tax issues often have their own federal courts. The top of the federal court system is the U. Supreme Court. This court deals with extreme cases and represent the final say on how law is to be interpreted within the country. Cases must work their way up to the U. Supreme Court, and most cases are only heard after several years worth of trials and lower court decisions.
Rules are set into place at each level in the court process. These rules are designed to protect defendants and victims. This provides the most likely chance for an individual to have their case heard, and to receive a fair and non-biased verdict on their case.
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Corrections The corrections component of the criminal justice system concerns itself with supervising convicted criminals in jail, prison or while on probation. Corrections officers are charged with ensuring that facilities are safe, secure and follow state and federal regulations. Part of the goal of the correctional facility is to rehabilitate criminals and make them ready for re-entry into the world.
An Overview of the Process The criminal justice system starts with a report and ends post-trial events. The first stage of the process is where law enforcement officials respond to a crime and report information. This could be in the form of witness reports, victim reports or other parties that are privy to knowledge about the crime. Once a report is made, an investigation begins in an attempt to uncover any illegal activities and gather evidence. Contrary to most depictions of an investigation in television and movies, most criminal suspects have no idea they are the subject of an investigation.
Once enough evidence is acquired to assure a conviction and arrest or citation is made.
After the initial entry into the criminal justice system occurs, the pretrial and prosecution takes affect. Charges are entered against the criminal. From there, a court appearance may occur.
At the time of the first court appearance, a court assigns a bail or bond that the defendant must pay to get a release from jail. It acts as security to guarantee that the defendant appears when a trial date is set.
Assessing the Effectiveness of Criminal Justice Programs
In some cases, there is no option for bail or bond. Cost-Effectiveness : A criterion for comparing alternatives when benefits or outputs cannot be valued in dollars. This relates costs of programs to performance by measuring outcomes in nonmonetary form. It is useful in comparing methods of attaining an explicit objective on the basis of least cost or greatest effectiveness for a given level of cost.
Intro to the American Criminal Justice System
See: Cost-Benefit, Effectiveness. In a program activity presentation, the critical points usually depict events lease request received, lease offered, lease inspected, etc. CPM seeks to determine the expected time of completion of the total project and times of completion of the subprojects of which it is composed.
PERT goes further and seeks to evaluate activities with the expected times of completion. Effectiveness : The rate at which progress towards attainment of the goal or objective of a program is achieved, judged in terms of both output and impact. Effectiveness of program outputs, however, may increase without necessarily increasing effectiveness or the quality of the output. Efficiency : The degree to which outputs are achieved in terms of productivity and the inputs resources allocated. Efficiency is a measure of performance in terms of which management may set objectives and plan schedules and for which staff members may be held accountable.
Evaluation : Evaluation has several distinguishing characteristics relating to focus, methodology, and function. The following operational description clarifies these characteristics: Evaluation 1 assesses the effectiveness of an ongoing program in achieving its objectives, 2 relies on the standards of project design to distinguish a program's effects from those of other forces working in a situation, and 3 aims at program improvement through a modification of current operations. Evaluation Practices : These practices consist mainly of management information and data incorporated into regular program management information systems to allow managers to monitor and assess the progress being made in each program toward its preestablished goals and objectives.
Ideally, all programs are self-evaluating, continuously monitoring their own activities. See: Information System. Feasibility Study : A study of the applicability or practicability of a proposed action or plan. This is also the principal purpose a program is intended to serve.