Criminal Justice-Reflection Exercise


  1. What are significant steps in the criminal justice process from the point of view of both prosecution and the defendant?
  2. How are the federal and state judicial systems alike and different?
  3. Who are the institutional representatives involved in the criminal process? Explain their duties and necessity in the process.
  4. What are factors influencing the decision makers and participants in the criminal justiceprocess?
  5. How are biblical principles integrated in criminal justice processes?

Sample paper

Criminal Justice

What are the significant steps in the criminal justice process from the point of view of both prosecution and defendant?

There are a number of critical steps in the criminal justice process. The first step is the complaint. This step occurs when a citizen or a police officer obtains a legal complaint from the prosecutor (Wrobleski & Hess, 2006). The complaint refers to a legal document issued by a prosecutor specifying the averred crimes. The second step is the warrant of arrest. The warrant is issued upon presenting the complaint to a judge. A police officer or the aggrieved party can present the complaint. If the judge finds sufficient grounds for a case, he/she issues a warrant of arrest. This leads to the third step, which is the arrest of the suspect (Wrobleski & Hess, 2006). Arrest may occur at different points of the justice process. For instance, it is possible to make an arrest without a complaint if the purported crime took place in the presence of a police officer. The prosecutor may also opt for a grand jury prior to the arrest of a suspect.

The fourth step is booking. In this step, the suspect is taken into custody and their name as well as other details recorded in the police system. The police then take the fingerprints and photographs of the suspect, which are then sent to the FBI (Wrobleski & Hess, 2006). The fifth step involves plea bargaining. In this step, the suspects appears before a judge, who determines whether the suspect should receive bail, and the amount of bail. The next step is preliminary hearing where the judge determines whether there is a probable cause in believing that the suspect committed the offense. The grand jury applies where the defendant is accused of committing a crime against the federal law. The seventh step is the arraignment, which involves the suspect personally making an appearance, and the defendant informs him/her of the complaint (Wrobleski & Hess, 2006). The last step is trial and sentencing. In trial, a judge examines the evidence presented by either side and then makes a ruling.

How are the federal and state judicial systems alike and different?

The federal and state judicial systems are different in a number of ways. The state courts are larger comparing with the federal judicial systems. The state judicial systems handle the vast number of the country’s caseload (Jost, 2013). Federal judges handle fewer cases and have higher salaries compared to state courts judges. There are also differences regarding the type of cases hear. The federal court system mainly deals with cases touching on the U.S. as a whole, for instance, cases involving constitutionality of a law, cases involving treaties, disputes between states, admiralty law, and other issues. On the other hand, the state court system mostly deals with contract cases and criminal cases (Jost, 2013). There are also differences in selection of judges. In the federal judicial system, judges undergo nomination by the President while the Senate confirms them. In the state judicial system, judges are selected through appointment and elections.

There are a number of similarities between the federal and state judicial systems. Federal and state judicial systems handle relatively minor cases such as traffic offenses (Jost, 2013). Individuals file most of the cases, including the ones involving corporations. In both court systems, majority of cases are settled through plea bargaining. Majority of civil cases can undergo trial in either federal or state judicial systems. The state and federal courts’ prosecutors may at times cooperate in bringing suspects to book, while in other times they might compete for suspects especially in cases that can be heard in both federal and state courts level. In such a case, the plaintiff can choose the judicial system to present his/her case depending on the system that is likely to favor the case.

What are the factors influencing the decision makers and participants in the criminal justice process?

Decision making in the criminal justice process is a complex process. One of the main factors influencing decision makers and participants is the presence of rules from various sources such as Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution, state constitutions, state codes, federal rules of criminal procedures, court decisions, and agency rules and regulations (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2015). The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure guides decision makers and participants in matters involving criminal proceedings in courts. The U.S. Constitution acts as the supreme law of the land. As such, decision makers and participants must take into consideration what the constitution says. The state constitutions refer to the laws guiding various states in the U.S. Different states have different enactments that affect the criminal justice process and decision making. The Bill of Rights represents the first 10 amendments made to the constitution of the U.S. The amendments guaranteed fundamental freedoms and rights to citizens.

State codes are enacted by various states. The decision makers and participants in the criminal justice system must be aware of the state codes before making decisions. Court decisions entail those decisions made by the federal courts and which address various aspects of the law (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2015). Federal court decisions determine the way laws are interpreted by attorneys and judges in lower courts. The interpretation of laws affects decision makers and other participants in the criminal justice process. Another factor influencing decision makers and other participants includes discretion. A large part of the decision making process involves exercise of judgment or discretion to make rational decisions. For instance, police officers apply discretion to decide whether they should arrest a suspect or offender.


Cole, G. F., Smith, C. E., & DeJong, C. (2015). Criminal justice in America. Boston, MA:            Cengage Learning.

Jost, K., (2013). The Supreme Court A-Z. New York, NY: Routledge Publishing.

Wrobleski, H. M., & Hess, K. M. (2006). Introduction to law enforcement and criminal justice.   Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.