History of Criminal Justice Essay
The modern criminal justice system has evolved since ancient times, with new forms of punishment, added rights for offenders and victims, and policing reforms. These developments have reflected changing customs, political ideals, and economic conditions. In ancient times through the middle Ages, exile was a common form of punishment. During the Middle Ages, payment to the victim (or the victim's family), known as wergild, was another common punishment, including for violent crimes. For those who could not afford to buy their way out of punishment, harsh penalties included various forms of corporal punishment. These included mutilation, branding, and flogging, as well as execution.
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In the U.S. and in a growing number of nations, guilt or innocence (although in the U.S. a jury can never find a defendant "innocent" but rather "not guilty") is decided through theadversarial system. In this system, two parties will both offer their version of events and argue their case before the court (sometimes before a judge or panel of judges, sometimes before a jury). The case should be decided in favor of the party who offers the most sound and compelling arguments based on the law as applied to the facts of the case.
The prosecutor, or district attorney, is a lawyer who brings charges against a person, persons or corporate entity. It is the prosecutor's duty to explain to the court what crime was committed and to detail what evidence has been found which incriminates the accused. The prosecutor should not be confused with a plaintiff or plaintiff's counsel. Although both serve the function of bringing a complaint before the court, the prosecutor is a servant of the state who makes accusations on behalf of the state in criminal proceedings, while the plaintiff is the complaining party in civil proceedings.