3 Major Components of Criminal Justice System in United States

Criminal Justice System is a very crucial part of any country’s (such as United States) constitutional system. If the Criminal Justice System is working to its fullest potential, then the crime rate of that country will decrease drastically. Any country’s Criminal Justice System depends upon 3 major & basic components.

  1. Law Enforcement
  2. Courts
  3. Corrections and Rehabilitation

Frequently you hear on the news of murder, an unlawful killing; either of a single person or manslaughter. There are three degrees of murder that a murderer may commit. The murderer deliberately commits the murder with full planning and proper execution. This is the first degree murder.

A second degree murder is which is committed unintentionally; a person takes a gun a shoots the person without deliberation, just because he was angry at the other person. He does not have a just excuse for the crime.

Third degree murder or felony murder is committed during a felony attempt. If the murder is committed while a robbery was going on or a bank was looted then this will be third degree murder.

Whether any degree of murder has been committed, to bring the culprit to justice is the far most important thing to do. This is the job of Criminal Justice System, as discussed above has three major components. Let’s look at their individual role in the Criminal Justice System.

Law Enforcement:

At any time when a murder is executed, the very first to respond is the law enforcement. As soon as a 911 call is dispatched to the patrolling police car near the murder crime scene, the police officers reach the crime scene. The first responders analyze the situation and initiate their response. It happens sometimes that the murderer is fleeing the crime scene and the officers try to stop him; either the murderer flees the scene or is apprehended by the police officers.

The first responding officers report each and every thing to the local sheriff’s office. The sheriff is the chief at a local police station, who has full authority over the county he is assigned to. This includes keeping peace, enforcing the law, countywide patrolling and investigating irrespective of municipal boundaries.

If he succeeds in fleeing, the first responders can call for back up or chase down the culprit themselves. There are circumstances when the murderer can cross state lines. At that moment state law enforcement comes into action. The police officers of the previous sate hands over the case to the current state police.

If the murder case becomes too complicated to be handled by the local police then federal law enforcers take charge, although the local police are also involved but they work under the federal law. The state police are bound to cooperate with the federal law enforcement agencies.

After a very long chase the murder is apprehended by the law enforcers. The Law enforcer reads the legal right to the murderer before presenting him in front of the court. The law enforcers do detailed investigation about the murder committed and collect evidence to be presented in court.


The second major component in Criminal Justice System is the courts. It is the most important component as the decision that the court will take will affect the lives of many people. Courts are government institutes to adjudicate disputes between two parties, in this case the murderer and the victim.

The courts consists of a presiding officer, usually a judge, a panel of jury, the accused, the accused barrister, the victim, the  prosecutor and witnesses. At the first phase of the trail the prosecutor makes an opening statement or opens the case in front of the court. Then the defense presents the same case according to his interpretation, giving legal justification to the murder committed. At this stage no eyewitnesses or physical evidence is put forward.

In the second stage both the prosecutor and the defense present evidences and eyewitness accounts to the presiding jury. Witnesses are call to the stand and each part cross questions him/her. The answer given by the witness can strengthen the position of either the murderer or victim. A cross examine of the evidence can also determine the verdict of the jury.

After the prosecutor and the defense have “rested” meaning that no more evidence is there to present. The jury on the basis of the evidences, witnesses accounts and the arguments made by the prosecutor and defense; either “guilty” or “not guilty”. Before that decision is made the prosecutor and the defense make closing statements, trying to establish their respective point of views.

Whatever the jury decides is to be respected by both the parties. If the jury cannot come to any decision then a retrial is done after gathering some more evidence. Sometimes the accused is really innocent of the crime he has been accused of; the verdict will be “not guilty”. But if it is proved that the crime committed by the culprit is true then he stands “guilty”.

Corrections and Rehabilitation:

If the culprit is found “guilty” of murder then the jury decides what type of punishment is suitable for the murderer.

Although first degree murder is punishable by death penalty or imprisonment for life but there are other punishments for murder. Murder convicts can often pay fine of different sorts to avoid going to jail, fining the murderer with a minimum amount of $10,000.

Probation supervised by a probation agent help the murder become a better citizen as he indulges in community work. Many convicts are situated in a rehabilitation center if they are proven to be mentally disturbed.

If the murder pleads guilty then his sentence can be reduced, but this happens very rarely.

Murder convicts can go to different correctional facilities. Juvenile prisons are for those who commit crime before the age of 18 years. Here they are thought different cooping ways.

Minimum, medium and high security prisons are for different degrees of murder convicts. As their names suggest you can assume which types goes in which.

At times people with mental disorders commit murders but they are not aware of so they are sent to psychiatric prisons.

As you can see each component of the Criminal Justice System has its own importance. One is incomplete without the other two. Hope that this article helped you in understanding the 3 Major Components of Criminal Justice System.

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