Components of the Criminal Justice System
The Criminal Justice System refers to the process by which persons committing criminal offenses are arrested, followed by systematic investigation to determine proof. After which charges are laid, defense is raised, trials conducted and sentencing rendered if found guilty or acquitted if innocent. Criminal offense is an evil act or omission punishable by law; and/or a long record of crime. An offense can be a minor or major violation, example of minor offense is jaywalking and some major offenses are murder, arson, and treason. Crime, offense, and criminal offense are used interchangeably. Mens rae (awareness of guilt) and actus reus (the act) are two important elements necessary to prove a crime.
Criminal conduct is the violation of the law of a state or country which prohibits certain conduct. Criminal conduct evaluates the individual’s behavior in the criminal offenses raised and is not based on whether the individual was prosecuted or convicted.
Criminal offenses are usually investigated by researching the facts and/or incidents, situations, scenarios, to prove the guilt of the individual. Thorough investigation is carried out systematically, capturing minute details, analyzing and scrutinizing information to arrive at a conclusion to prosecute the individual committing the criminal offense. The evidence collected determines the charges laid against the individual, and a defense is made to oppose or defeat the prosecution of the criminal offense.
The trial is a judicial examination of the issues between the parties, whether they are issues of law or facts, presented in court before a jury or judge. This evidence is examined by the judge in order to determine guilt in the criminal proceedings. He takes into consideration the law of the land, the facts presented, or the law put in the case for the purpose of determining the outcome.
If the defendant is found guilty, other facts are considered, such as: the nature of the crime; the defendant’s criminal history; remorse or regret shown by the defendant; and the defendant’s socio-economic and personal circumstances; inputs from the prosecutor and also the defense before handing down sentence. Imposition of punishment may be incarceration, probation, community service or suspended sentence. The defense or prosecution can make an appeal against the sentence or trial or both.