Legal Issues

The Imposition of Jurisdiction

According to the tabloids – take that for whatever it’s worth – Brad Pitt yelled at his kids while flying home on a private jet from France.  The case was referred to several agencies before the question of jurisdiction landed the case at the FBI.

Jurisdiction, according to Black’s Law Dictionary is “A term of comprehensive import embracing every kind of judicial action. It is the power of the court to decide a matter in controversy and presupposes the existence of a duly constituted court with control over the subject matter and the parties.” Without diving into the complexities and intricacies of jurisdiction, generally speaking it places a specific court case into a specific court.  Cities have jurisdiction over city laws, counties over county laws, state agencies over state laws and federal bodies over federal laws.

Court jurisdiction depends on the place a case occurs and the level of the offense. Justice courts handle infractions through Class B Misdemeanor matters that occur within their jurisdictional borders.  District courts handle matters ranging from Class A Misdemeanors up through First Degree Felonies and Capital Offenses occurring within their respective county and state jurisdiction.  Federal courts can handle all of the above provided a federal law has been violated.  Federal law simply explained is a crime that occurs over state lines.

Note that this is a simple, elementary explanation and that rules and exceptions to the rule vary greatly.  The important takeaway is that a person should seek an attorney that is familiar with and has practiced in the jurisdiction that a case is filed.  Familiarity with a court and a prosecutor can greatly increase the chance a person has for a better outcome in any case.  When deciding on an attorney, be sure ask questions with regard to the jurisdiction where your case is filed, and make sure you have chosen the right lawyer before simply paying the retainer.

When the dust settles and Brad Pitt’s case is closed, one can only hope that the private jet ride to and from Paris accompanied by some yelling does not leave too many emotional scars.

Photo Courtesy of: Stuart Miles@freedigitalphotos.net

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