The German Criminal Justice System

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On the other side of the criminal justice spectrum, there is Germany, a nation with a shaky and complex history. Until October of 1990, Germany was divided into two separate nations, West Germany and East Germany. The criminal justice system existing in modern Germany represents a combination of “Civil Law” as well as “Common Law.” The history and culture of Germany is deeply rooted into the crafting and maintenance of the German criminal justice system. In Germany, “obedience to the laws of the state, and firm discipline conforming itself with these laws, are, in Germany thought to be the most needful things in public life (Hartmann, 1911). This attitude towards obedience and discipline is seen throughout German history and is still to this…show more content…
Each state, under the German constitution, has the authority to generate individual police law and force. Furthermore, each state has various divisions in the police force. The major divisions include the Schutzpolizeiz, the Kriminalpolizei, and the Bundesgrenzshutz (Dammer & Albanese, 2011, p. 100-101). The Schutzpolizeiz are the general police force that handles most aspects of law enforcement. The Kriminalpolizei are private, “plainclothes” police that process more serious cases and investigations. The Bundesgrenzshutz fall into two categories: border police and police handling terrorist-related matters (Dammer & Albanese, 2011, p. 100-101). As mentioned before, the German judicial system follows a combination of Civil Law and Common Law and furthermore grants the right to a counsel, as well as the right to bail. Although the defendant does not appear before a jury, the defendant will appear before a panel of judges who will hear the defendants cases and decide through majority vote whether the accused is guilty or not. The accused also has the right to remain silent for the entirety of the case and allow the appointed counsel to speak instead ("The German Code of Criminal Procedure ",…show more content…
The three courts are broken into: “(1) ordinary courts, which handle criminal and most civil cases; (2) specialized courts, which hear cases related to administrative issues; and (3) constitutional courts, which deal with judicial review and constitutional interpretation” (Dammer & Albanese, 2011, p. 157). All courts in Germany, besides the Federal Supreme Court of Justice, are state courts, meaning all judges operate under the state in which they reside, instead of the federal government (Krey, 1999). In the ordinary court system, the court is broken into four tiers, which consist of the Amtsgerichte, the Landgericht, the Oberlandesgerichte courts, and the Bundesgerichte. The Amtsgerichte deals with minor and local crimes and is often staffed by a single judge instead of a panel. The Landgericht are regional courts that try major criminal and civil cases. The Oberlandesgerichte courts deal with cases mostly relating to treason and “anti-constitutional” behavior. Germany’s specialized courts operate on the local, regional, and federal level and deal with “social security, labor, tax law, and administrative law, and patent law” (Dammer & Albanese, 2011, p.
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