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The Criminal Justice System

Autor:   •  November 21, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,114 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,829 Views

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The criminal justice system is a system of laws and rulings which protect community members and their property. It determines which events causing injury or offence to community members, are considered as crime. Criminal offenders may be punished through the law by fines, imprisonment or community service. The criminal justice system comprises of numerous different aspects that play a dominant role in our modern day society. It is the structure that keeps our civilization together in bonds and forcing us not to break apart and fall into lawlessness and disorder. Under the federal system of government in Australia, the states and territories assume major responsibilities and powers with regard to most social issues affecting their residents. There is, therefore, no single criminal justice system in Australia. The states and territories have separate and independent systems of police, courts, prisons and juvenile institutions, and other corrective and treatment services.

In any criminal offence there are two elements, the physical and the psychological. For someone to be successfully prosecuted for committing a crime there must have been a completed physical act. This act forms the basis of the criminal offence. For example, goods were taken without payment, or someone was shot, stabbed or poisoned. No one can be convicted of just having ‘bad thoughts'. Sometimes a person may be charged with an attempted crime, but even here there must be physical proof the person did something to prepare for the crime.

Also, those physical acts must have been undertaken with knowledge, understanding or intention. That is, the person committing the act knew or was aware that the act was unlawful and that they were doing it. If someone is mentally ill or delusional, or perhaps suffering from the effects of medication or a brain tumor, and commits a crime, they may not have understood or even been aware of what they were doing. If so, they will have a defense to the charge. This defense generally does not apply to acts committed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In such cases, the mental element tends to shift to the taking of the substances. If the person took them consciously and knowingly, then they will usually be held responsible for what they did while they were under their influence.

The criminal process typically begins with a stop or an arrest. It could end at any point up to the time of sentencing, depending on the facts and circumstances of any particular case. You have certain rights at every stage of the criminal process. You may be stopped for questioning by the police. A stop is not the same as an arrest. A stop occurs when a police officer detains you to ask you questions, but does not move you to a different location. The police officer could decide at this point that there is no reason to arrest you and your involvement in the criminal process could end here. Each jurisdiction has different rules


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