Types of Jurisdiction
The term jurisdiction means the official power to make legal decisions and judgments. It can denote the extent of the power of an entity to make legal decisions and judgements. In legal terms, jurisdiction is the authority given by law to a court to try cases and rule on legal matters within a particular geographic area and/or over certain types of legal cases. In the United States, different kinds of courts have different jurisdictions, for example, criminal trials are only heard in criminal courts and there are both federal and state criminal courts.
There are really many more than just four types of jurisdiction but the following are the kinds of court jurisdictions people may be referencing when asking about the four types of jurisdictions:
Exclusive Jurisdiction A federal court that hears cases that only federal courts have the
authority to hear. State courts cannot hear cases that are under exclusive jurisdiction.
Original Jurisdiction A court that is the first one to hear a case. It can be a state or federal court.
Appellate Jurisdiction A court that can only hear a case that is on appeal.
Concurrent Jurisdiction Sometimes federal and state courts can both have jurisdiction over the
same matter. It is called concurrent jurisdiction when this is the case.
Different Types of Jurisdictions
State courts have jurisdiction over civil matters. Civil matters pertain to claims and lawsuits that are brought about to redress a private wrong such as a breach of contract, encroachment, negligence and injury. In civil lawsuits, plaintiffs typically seek compensation for damages the defendant(s) caused. Within the state court system there are different levels of courts that have jurisdiction over lawsuits involving different amounts of money.
Superior Courts, called District or County Courts in some states, typically deal with lawsuits involving larger amounts of money, family law, probate, guardianships and conservatorships.
Municipal and other local courts have jurisdiction over cases involving smaller amounts of money, misdemeanors (crimes that are not punishable with state prison sentences), traffic matters, and preliminary hearings of felony charges. Some states handle misdemeanors in police courts.
Federal courts have jurisdiction over cases that deal with federal laws, federal crimes, appeals from bankruptcy proceedings, maritime cases, legal actions involving federal constitution questions, and certain legal matters whose jurisdictions cross state boundaries.
There are many situations where more than one court has jurisdiction over a matter. When more than one court has jurisdiction over a matter it is called, concurrent jurisdiction. Jurisdiction for a particular matter may be determined by the courts but a lawyer filing a lawsuit may file in a particular jurisdiction as a tactical maneuver for things such as the amount of time until their case can go to trial or the potential pool of jurors.
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