Summaries – Law, Justice, and Society: A Sociolegal Introduction
Summaries – Law, Justice, and society: A Sociolegal Introduction
Chapter Four: Federal and State Courts Summary
Chapter four handles the federal and state courts. In the chapter, the reader is introduced to the courts where justice is obtained in America. The courts serve to hand out justice by providing the affected practice with a dee law process. Also, courts are involved in the making of policy. Policymaking is the process of allocating limited resources to parties who are competing for the resources. Difficult controversies that involve policy are solved in the court system. Additionally, the rights of minorities would not be catered for through legislature, but rather through the court system, which allows for their rights to be heard, thus allowing for social change.
Also, the court system interprets the law and clarifies it for the general public. To truly understand how the court system works, the jurisdiction concept is introduced in the chapter. Jurisdiction is a Latin term comprised of two terms, ‘juris’ meaning law, and ‘dicere,’ which stands for to speak. The term jurisdiction is the ability of a court to speak on and decide a case. Jurisdiction is divided into four primary types: personal, subject matter, geographical, and hierarchical. Personal jurisdiction means that the court holds authority over a person. When talking about the subject matter jurisdiction, the author implies that the court has the power to listen to a particular type of case.
The geographical jurisdiction means that the court can hear cases in a particular geographic region, while hierarchical jurisdiction denotes responsibilities and duties among various courts. Hierarchical jurisdiction is divided into limited and general, and original and appellate. Also, in the chapter, we are introduced to Federal courts. Federal courts, otherwise referred to as Article III courts, are courts established by Congress under Article III of the U.S constitution, mandated to make inferior courts. The federal court system is classified into three tiers: district courts, courts of appeal, and the Supreme Court. The district court is essentially the trial court for the federal court system. On the other hand, the court of appeal comprises of courts of appeals. Finally, the third tier of federal courts is the supreme courts, which are the final destinations of cases not solved in the other two federal court system ties.
Furthermore, the chapter explores the state courts. They are described as the workhorses of the judicial system as they process the bulk of the cases. They exist in four different tiers: courts of limited jurisdiction, courts of general jurisdiction, immediate appellate courts, and the final appellate court, also known as the court of last resort. Another important concept I learned in the chapter is the criminal process. The chapter gives an in-depth look into how the criminal process goes on. The filing of an arrest initiates the process. Search warrants are handed out to police who proceed to arrest the suspect while in detention, the suspect is booked and has his biometrics and pictures taken.
Next, the suspect initially appears in a municipal court. The suspect is informed of their rights, their charges and are reformed on terms of bail. Next is the preliminary hearings, where the suspect is formally notified of their crimes. The following charges are filed, after which the suspect appears before a grand jury. Charges are filed, and arraignment occurs, followed by a reading of rights to the suspect. Finally, the defendants enter a plea, where they plead guilty or not guilty. A successful trial needs a capable jury; therefore, another crucial concept is selecting the jury. With the selection of the jury complete, the trial process begins, followed by a sentencing. If the suspect is guilty and wishes to appeal, then the appeal process occurs.
Furthermore, court actors who are essential in the justice system are named. They are judges, prosecutors, and attorneys. Finally, the chapter presents the reader with an overview of the legal profession, which links the actors in the justice system. Courts serve an important role in the US. Overall, the chapter delves into the composition and workings of the federal and state court system.
Chapter Five: Crime and Criminal Law Summary
The chapter introduces essential elements of criminal law, which is alternatively referred to as substantive law. Substantive law is defined, and it does two things, prescribes and proscribes. Prescribing stands for what the law should do while proscribing describes what we should not do. Criminal laws are under the state’s authority, and any infringement of criminal law is seen as a violation affecting the state. Also, in the chapter, the aspect of crime and its definition is touched upon. Crime is defined as the act of violating international criminal law without defense or an excuse. Crime has five components, namely, an act of violation of criminal law of which a punishment is prescribed, the individual performing the crime must have had the intention. Lastly, the person does without any legally justifiable defenses or justifications.
Additionally, we are introduced to the sources of criminal law in the chapter. Criminal law is obtained from many sources, including state and federal constitutions, state and federal statutes, and common law. However, the bulk of the criminal law is obtained from state statutes. Another emerging source of criminal law is federal law. The reason behind it is that, previously, criminal law was primarily left to states, but federal law is now being considered due to the evolution of crime.
Furthermore, criminal law has limitations that limit the scope of criminal law. The chapter explores just how this is happening. According to the section on limitations of criminal law, the state cannot criminalize any conduct it chooses. The concept of the substantive due process essentially places checks on what the law may seek to curtail. The process forbids laws against the basic rights to be passed because such rights are essential for ordered liberty to exist. Another aspect is the overbreadth doctrine, which deems laws unconstitutional when they cannot define specific actions that are to be restricted. Also, void for vagueness considers laws unconstitutional when they fail to sop act and define punishment in advance. The other is fair notice, which is just the act of letting individuals know that an act is not allowed.
Moreover, the chapter also explains the elements of criminal liability. Criminal liability only applies when an illegal act is done, accompanied by the intent to commit the crime. There are five elements of liability which defines a crime. Each of the liabilities must be established and proven without any reasonable doubt to ensure a crime. They are ‘Actus reus,’ ‘Mens rea,’ concurrence, causation, and harm. All of them make up ‘corpus delecti.’ There are examples where criminal liability may give without proof of criminal intent, and these are strict liability and vicarious liability. The chapter also explores inchoate crimes, which are defined as crimes performed to prepare an offense. They are of three types, attempt, solicitation, and conspiracy.
The chapter also explores justification methods that a defendant has to avoid criminal liability. The three common examples are self-defense, consent, and execution of public duties. In self-defense, the individual employs physical attacks when they believed they were about to be physically injured. State agents are allowed to use extreme force to execute their duties if they deem the attack is dangerous. With the actor’s consent, an individual chooses to suffer harm despite knowing that the act will injure them. The act has to be voluntary and knowledgeable. Other justifications include excuse defenses, which provide for duress, intoxication, and age and insanity.
The chapter also includes crime against the person, crimes against property, crimes against public order, and morality. Crimes against the person are some of the worst crimes, and they include acts of murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, felony murder rule, forcible rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. Also, crimes against property include arson, burglary, and theft. Offenses against public order and morality include disorderly conduct and Acts of prostitution and morality. Therefore, the chapter summarizes what crime is, criminal law, its elements, and types of crime.
Chapter Six: Criminal Procedure Summary
In Chapter Six, I learned the criminal procedures and their importance. Criminal procedures serve various purposes, such as setting the appropriate behavior for individuals, and due process to be followed in violation of the appropriate behaviors. The Chapter covers the fourth amendment search and seizure law. The law states that citizens should not be subjected to unreasonable searches and that warrants need to be issued before legal searches are done and accompanied by probable cause. Also, in the detention of individuals or items, the law protects individuals as the individuals’ perception in detection is used in law instead of police perception. Hence, if an individual is restrained from movement, their perception is used in law to determine if they were free to leave.
In the arrest of individuals, the officers are only allowed to arrest if they have a warrant. In the absence of a warranty, the officer should prove probable cause for arresting a specific individual’s involvement in criminal activities. Arrests without warranties are only allowed if the illegal activity is done in the officer’s presence or when the arrest takes place outside the privacy of the individual. Nonetheless, the arrest can occur if an order given by a person legally in authority or the private facility grants access to residents. In the arrest of individuals, reasonable force should be used unless excessive force is required to protect life. Hence, the amendment is useful to protect the rights of people being arrested and restricted in movement.
The Chapter covers two types of seizures, including stop and frisk. The court has established that stop and frisk does not require probable cause as the stop is not a full arrest and frisk is not a full search. Hence, all that is needed is reasonable suspicion to perform these acts. Nonetheless, an officer may choose to frisk an individual immediately without issuing a stop due to the suspicion of the risk of their safety and the surrounding people. Stop in vehicles should have reasonable suspicion to justify the act. Together with the passengers, the driver may also be requested to exit the car, allowing for a full search. The documentation for the weapons in the vehicle may be requested and the other documents, such as licenses.
In the Chapter, I also learned of the search warranty exceptions in plain view, open fields, and abandoned properties. In the direct view, the law allows officers to seize items there can see without apparently having to touch, smell, or apply any other senses. The rule applies where no warranty is required as the officer is in the position of observation. Hence, there is no need to provide a search warrant where an officer is within their jurisdiction and can see a wrong. Nonetheless, the smelling of meth in a person’s house will require the officer to obtain a warrant before searching the premises. In the open fields, areas outside the home of individuals are not protected under the law. Abandoned buildings are also not protected in the fourth amendment as the person is assumed to have given up control over the property.
Abandonment constitutes discarding of items and phrasing statements such as ‘l don’t want this anymore.’ In case of arrest, individuals have the right to be represented by a counsel and state their rights before any interrogation. The rights are referred to as the Miranda warning and only applicable under such circumstances. The Miranda is not applicable in traffic stops, sobriety check areas, stop and frisk, routine questioning of individuals, and when the officer believes that it’s a matter of public safety.
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