Criminal Justice System in the United States


In the United States, the dual court system had a long history and was established prior to the Constitution. It is needed for separating the power distribution between different branches and ensuring that each case is tried within an appropriate context. The dual federal/state court system gives both systems the opportunity to individualize the existing procedures, the interpretation of the law, as well as making decisions that will fit the needs of communities that they serve. The main goal of sentencing would be ensuring that the same offense does not occur after judgment, which is why the key focus would be placed on addressing violent and delinquent behaviors. Therefore, the current paper will explore several issues pertinent to outline principles.


Understanding the principles that govern the current justice system is essential for pointing out its advantages and disadvantages. This paper will focus on exploring the dual court system as well as the key philosophies of judging when it comes to dealing with criminal cases of different severity.

Dual Court System

The dual court justice system is a structure that employs two types of independent courts: one at local and one at the national level. The country has this system due to the idea of separating powers between the judicial, executive, and legislative balance (NCSL, 2019).

Purpose of America’s Dual Court System

The jurisdiction of federal courts deals with cases associated with the violations of the federal laws enacted by Congress and supported by the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, in instances when the impact of an offense covers more than one state, involves interstate crime, as well as other major issues as human trafficking, counterfeiting, and the smuggling of drugs, the federal court of the US, must deal with with with them. In regards to state courts, they deal with cases that do not fall within the jurisdiction of federal courts and include family disputes, contract laws, same-state-party disputes, as well as all violations of local and state laws (“Comparing federal & state courts,” n.d.). For instance, large cities may face the challenge of murders and gang violence while smaller towns deal with small burglaries and drug violations.

Court Unification and Monolithic Court Systems

A single court system may not work in the case of the US because the limitations of power jurisdiction would be eliminated, thus losing integrity within the judicial process. The change in the court system may lead to the misuse of power as well as confusion in the jurisdiction. In this case, the misuse of power refers to the capability of courts to resolve relevant matters.

Effectiveness of Monolithic Court System

State courts may not have the experience and background of handling state-wide cases or crimes, the implications of which affect the entire country (Dakolias, 2014). Similarly, federal courts should not deal with small cases, which means that a single court system may not work due to the long history of the dual court system working for the United States.

Judges and Philosophical Rationale

The main duty of a judge is to save the justice before judgment is declared and that the arguments presented by both the plaintiff and the defendant are properly verified and supported by evidence (“Role of the judge and other courtroom participants,” 2018). For instance, if a person went over a speed limit in a rural area and presented to the court to dispute it because he had to get to the hospital, the philosophy of deterrence may be used, which means that the individual would be issued a warning. However, when a person went over a speed limit and ran over a cyclist, the philosophy of incapacitation will be used.

Sentencing Goals

When deciding on a sentence, the main factor that would matter to me as a judge is whether a person acknowledges his or her guilt when proven guilty. If a person shows remorse and compliance with the law, the sentence may be reduced but still applying to the particular sentencing. The guidelines and sentencing will change only in the case of a defendant presenting enough evidence to suggest that they would be compliant with the law, abide by established procedures, and will be remorseful. In the instance when there is a possibility to reduce a sentence from incapacitation to rehabilitation for non-violent crimes, the latter option will be chosen.

Circumstances Where Guidelines and Goals Would Change

An example of a situation that might be difficult to judge is sentencing a single mother for robbery. If a woman struggles with earning money to sustain her family and provide for her children and resorts to robbery as a source of limited income, it will be hard to judge her since the sentence of incapacitation can directly affect the well-being of her children. In such a case, sentencing will be hard due to the need to consider all possible outcomes such as children being transferred into the foster care system, the mental health issues associated with the separation from their mother, and many others. These may enable me as a judge to change the philosophical rationale and chose either deterrence or rehabilitation as the main punishment options.


The distinction between state and federal courts is a system that handles court cases in a comprehensive way; the same way in which federal courts do not want to deal with minor misdemeanors, state courts should not be responsible for reviewing cases of the nationwide level. The five basic philosophies, which include deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation, retribution, and restoration, are used depending on the severity of a committed crime as well as the extent to which an offender complies with the judicial procedure.


Comparing federal & state courts. (n.d.). Web.

Dakolias, M. (2018). Court performance around the world: A comparative perspective. Yale Human Rights and Development Journal, 2(1), 87-142.

NCSL. (2019). Separation of powers. Web.

Role of the judge and other courtroom participants. (2018). Web.

Cite this paper

Select style


LawBirdie. (2023, March 27). Criminal Justice System in the United States. Retrieved from


LawBirdie. (2023, March 27). Criminal Justice System in the United States.

Work Cited

"Criminal Justice System in the United States." LawBirdie, 27 Mar. 2023,


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Criminal Justice System in the United States'. 27 March.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Criminal Justice System in the United States." March 27, 2023.

1. LawBirdie. "Criminal Justice System in the United States." March 27, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Criminal Justice System in the United States." March 27, 2023.