Criminal Justice System Attributes

Criminal Justice System Attributes


This paper looks at how a county prosecutor uses the attributes of the criminal justice system and how this affects his or her decisions and actions in relation to the police, corrections, the news media, the community, the defense attorney and the trial judge. Attributes of the criminal justice system are discretion, resource dependent, sequential tasks and filtering. These attributes determines the relationship between the various organs of decision making in the criminal justice system. Some of the roles of a county prosecutor are ensuring that suspects and offenders are arrested, apprehended and convicted. A county prosecutor works together with the police and the judge to ensure safe implementation of the law. The decisions that he or she makes affects the community, the mass media, the police and other court officials differently. The county prosecutor can use the attributes of the criminal justice system to his or her advantage. However, he ought to exercise caution when using these attributes since they can also be disadvantageous to him.

Keywords: attributes, news media, criminal justice system, the community

Officials have a right to act according to their own judgment and conscience. A county prosecutor ensures that people who break the law are apprehended, arrested and convicted. A county prosecutor therefore works closely with the police to ensure that law and order are maintained. Prosecutors are often accused of bargaining justice away for failing to investigate or for dismissing criminal cases (Siegel, 2009). The defense attorney and the prosecutor can decide on a plea bargain. Both the defense attorney and the prosecutor have the right to act according to their own judgment and if they feel that the offender has not committed a serious crime, they can decide to settle an argument out of court (Cole & Smith, 2007). Plea bargaining is not always an easy task and many people in the community are opposed to it.

With the help of the police, prosecutors can choose to withhold some of the information regarding a suspect from the news media. Though the media has freedom, some information should be protected since if the media was to get wind of it, it can compromise the case. If the prosecutor decides to release information to the media, the information released should be reliable and credible and it should be in such a way that it will not compromise the facts of the case. The prosecutor can also act together with the news media to assist in solving some cases and alerting the public concerning various issues. For instance, if the prosecutor and the police are dealing with a murderer, they can use the medial to inform the public concerning the suspect. This will enhance the community’s safety.

Many times, the media works for the interest of the public and the community is usually willing to listen to the media. The media also acts as a watchdog by covering the activities carried out by the criminal justice system. The media checks that the activities carried out are legitimate. This keeps the system in check and avoids the abuse of power by the various agencies. Police officers who do not act according to the law and are involved in criminal activities have found themselves in trouble after their cases were reported by the media (jrank).

Judges have several roles in the criminal justice system. They decide whether there is sufficient probable cause to issue a search warrant or an arrest warrant; whether the suspect should be released on bail and the amount of the bail, whether to accept pretrial motions, and whether to accept a plea bargain. During proceedings, judges ensure that the law is followed. The relationship between the prosecutor and the trial judge is very important especially before the trial proceedings. The judge spends much time with the defense attorney and the prosecutor before the case begins. The judge can refuse a plea bargain even when the prosecutor and the defense attorney have already reached an agreement. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge must decide on the length and type of sentence (Gaines & Miller, 2008).

Criminal justice agencies depend on other agencies for their resources. Legislators, mayors and city council members provide the agency with resources. Criminal justice officials should maintain a positive image with the voters so that they can retain the funding. This involves getting positive reviews from the news media. The media is important because it acts as a link between the government and the rest of the people. As a prosecutor, I have the duty to portray the agency in a positive manner. This means that notable achievements are more pronounced while the government failure and mistakes are hidden. The community is heavily influenced by the media because in many cases, the media is the only source of information that the community has.

Decisions in the criminal justice system follow a specific sequence. The police arrest the offenders before the case is passed to the prosecutor. The prosecutor decides on the charges to be brought. The case proceeds to the courts and finally to corrections when the offender is found guilty. The different agencies cannot realize their goals alone and they have to depend on each other. Filtering is a process where criminal justice officials screen out some cases while advancing others to the next level of decision-making. Some offenders are released because the courts find that the evidence presented before them is not enough to warrant a conviction. Not all defenders are punished by being sent to prison. The judge may decide to dismiss the charges, the jury may acquit some defenders and others are usually convicted. The police begin the process of filtering when they decide to let a suspect go free, usually justifying their reason on the evidence they have found. The prosecutor determines the workload in the courts when they decide to go ahead with the charges. Many times the decision makers are careful enough to let the suspect stand trial. The prosecutor is careful to act on the public’s interest. The community can be outraged if the prosecutor decides not to go ahead when the suspect was arrested on charges of serious crimes such as rape and murder.

Police agents keep peace, apprehend offenders, prevent crime and provide social services such as directing traffic (Gaines & Miller, 2008). Corrections include prisons, jails, probation, community supervision and parole. The government also contracts other agencies such as nonprofit private organizations to provide correctional services. The prosecutors’ decision to go ahead with the charges does not mean that the defendant will be prosecuted. The court can decide to assist the offender and offer him or her alternative treatments. For instance, a person who commits various offences under the influence of drugs and other substances will be sent to a rehabilitation center especially if the crimes committed are not serious. Others will be forced to work with different community groups and this will be beneficial to the community. The prosecutor can recommend various programs in the community, which the defendant can do.



Cole, F. G., & Smith, E. C. (2007). Criminal justice in America. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

Gaines, K. L., & Miller, L. R. (2008). Criminal justice in action: The core. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

Jrank. Mass media and crime-journalism. Retrieved from

Siegel, J. L. (2009). Introduction to criminal justice. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.


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