Crime is the direct opposition of the law. Society defines a crime as a felony (a serious offense, usually involving violence and it is punishable by imprisonment), a misdemeanor (considered a lesser or minor civil offense), an offense (regarded as an act that breaks a rule or a law), and a sin (an act against morality, nature or God) ( DICTIONARY.COM, LLC, 2011). Although the first two descriptions are actionable, the last two may not be considered a criminal act, but an immoral act.
Our society has established rules that we agree to govern ourselves by. One of the assumptions we have about our legal system, is a man is innocent until proven guilty. Hence we define our system by dealing with the identification, correction, and application of the law. Keeping in mind that people are to be treated equally and the rights of every person, preserved.
Our criminal justice system is composed of three main segments that deal with crime. The Police Department -- they identify and investigate that a crime has been committed and they enforce the law. Based upon the evidence, a warrant is obtained, the police arrest the offender and he or she is taken into custody. The booking consists of (a) the offender getting their picture taken – mug shot; (b) their personal and physical information is obtained in a database; (c) and an arrest record is created .
Evidence is collected (at the scene if possible) and a reenactment of the crime is created to document the offense. This is our society’s front line defense to maintaining public order.
The next phase of our justice system is the Courts. Courts are to ensure that every individual’s rights are defended. Based upon evidence presented, an offender is entitled to a trial (due process) to determine if the offender is guilty of the crime. If found guilty, the offender will be sentenced and the punishment for the crime, carried out.
Due process focuses on an individual’s rights and making sure their rights are not violated. Pretrail will permit the first appearance, where the offender is brought before a judge and told what the offense is; and if possible, their bail amount. It is the preliminary hearing that decides if the evidence is sufficient to continue due process. In applicable states, the evidence is deliberated over to see if a grand jury chooses to indict the offender.
After which the offender has an opportunity before a judge to enter a plea in open court (Arraignment) regarding the indictment made against them. Due process is continued and the offender is schedule for a trail, where his fate is decided by a jury of his or her peers; and sentence for the crime is rendered.
If the crime committed is of a lesser nature, due process would involve adjudication. The offender would plea out or the case may be dismissed (Frank Schmalleger, 2009). And finally, the third vital component of the justice system is Corrections. After an offender has been sentenced, they are transferred to a treatment program, a state or federal institution where they will pay for their crime. Inasmuch as corrections also involves rehabilitation, the institutions are obligated by law to provide decent housing, meals, medical, dental and education (University of Phoenix, 2011).
The goal of our justice system includes: deterring the offender from committing a crime. If the offender knows what could happen to them, they are less likely to commit the crime. Incapacitating an offender, not only removes them from society so that society is safer, but also the time that they have to serve is time taken away from their lives. Retribution of an offender, not only causes them to serve time for their crime, but they must also pay for the crime in some fashion; whether it is by fines paid, community service or embarrassment. And finally, Restoration. The offender has to make up to the victim for the crime committed.
References Frank Schmalleger. ( 2009). Criminal Justice Today Chapter 1: What Is Criminal Justice?. Retrieved from Frank Schmalleger, CJA204 - Introduction To Criminal Justice website. University of Phoenix. ( 2011). Criminal Justice Goals [Computer Software]. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, Simulation, CJA204-Introduction To Criminal Justice website. University of Phoenix. ( 2011). Criminal Justice Process [Computer Software]. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, Simulation, CJA204-Introduction To Criminal Justice website. University of Phoenix. ( 2011). Due Process vs. Crime Control [Computer Software]. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, Simulation, CJA204-Introduction To Criminal Justice website. DICTIONARY.COM, LLC. (2011). Dictionary.com. Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/crime