Integrity, Authority, and Discretionary Powers

Criminal justice is characterized by several essential features, the most important of which are integrity, authority, and discretionary powers. To understand each of the signs as accurately as possible, it is crucial to know their definitions. Integrity is the inviolability of certain moral qualities, their true state, which is not amenable to external regular influence (Huberts, 2018). Authority is a quality that means respect for a particular person for their life experience, knowledge, and wisdom. Discretionary powers are usually understood as legal powers that allow an official to act at his discretion within the limits of the capabilities defined by law (Levin, 2018). Although all concepts are different and have similarities, they still have contrasts.

The dissimilarities between these concepts are that a person who is endowed with authority is appointed by a particular institution that is involved in the justice process, while it is impossible to confer discretionary powers. Integrity demonstrates that a person observes several moral principles, and authority describes the power of one person who keeps other people under their control. Each of these concepts is inherent in criminal justice and employees of this management apparatus.

These concepts have similarities that connect them and directly with the justice system itself. Authority and discretionary power are similar in that a person must be in a high position and have the appropriate experience and merit to be entitled to the possession of discretionary power (Levin, 2018). For people to be initially endowed with authority, they need to have the integrity to dispose of their capabilities. That is, each of these concepts is necessary since they are all critical for the integrity and non-biased work of the court and every employee of the justice system. Honesty is an essential element of criminal justice directly when dealing with adults.

Adult justice integrity is essential as a characteristic of an unbiased and incorruptible judge, whose only principle will be a real punishment corresponding to the crime. Authority also plays a vital role as it is given to a specific person who decides what the punishment for a particular action will be (Levin, 2018). Discretionary power enables one person to determine the fate of the convicted person, and this person must be fair in his decision. Similar characteristics are also necessary when working with juvenile since their punishment is often milder due to age, although the crime committed may be sufficiently severe (Huberts, 2018). It can be noted that the justice system should be the same for everyone, and each element should play an equally important role.

Changes in the characteristics of the justice system concerning adults and minors may occur because many people have a priori more compassionate attitudes towards children than towards adults. Due to their young age and lack of experience and awareness, some minors can commit crimes without even thinking about the consequences. Adults are expected to make more deliberate decisions and understand what effects these decisions may have. Changes in the transition from an adult to a teenager occur because children may be afraid of punishment in the future and improve, and some adults will no longer strive to change their lives.


Huberts, L. (2018). Integrity: What it is and why it is important. Public Integrity, 20(1), 18–32.

Levin, B. (2018). Rethinking the boundaries of “criminal justice”. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 15(1), 619-637.

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"Integrity, Authority, and Discretionary Powers." LawBirdie, 20 June 2023,


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Integrity, Authority, and Discretionary Powers'. 20 June.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Integrity, Authority, and Discretionary Powers." June 20, 2023.

1. LawBirdie. "Integrity, Authority, and Discretionary Powers." June 20, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Integrity, Authority, and Discretionary Powers." June 20, 2023.