Crimes and Verdicts

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CRIMES AND VERDICTS
PROFESSOR TIMOTHY KELLY
INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE
MAY 29, 2014

I have chosen the State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman as the first part of this paper. Why was Zimmerman charged and tried at the state level, and then face the possibility of Federal charges? Is this not “double jeopardy”? The court that will try a case is decided by jurisdiction, jurisdiction being defined as “(1) the legal authority of a court to hear and decide a certain type of case; (2) the geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases “ (Definitions, n.d.). Also we must clarify state and federal jurisdiction. Federal court jurisdiction is limited to the types of cases listed in the Constitution and specifically provided for by Congress. For the most part, federal courts only hear cases in which the United States is a party and cases involving violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal laws. There are others, but those are the ones relevant to this paper. State courts have much broader jurisdiction, they preside over cases most individual citizens would be involved in and most criminal cases involve violations of state law and are thus tried in state court. Being as Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder, he was tried in a state court. Zimmerman was found not guilty by the jury, so case closed, correct? U.S. Attorney General Holder stated that after the trial that the Federal Government would investigate the possibility of charging Zimmerman with a civil rights violation, or the Federal “hate crime” law. The two statutes that he could be charges with are 18 U.S.C 245 and 18 U.S.C. 249. Section 249, the more explicit law, states it criminalizes violence “"because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person" (Adams, 2013). So technically, this would not be “double jeopardy” because Zimmerman…...

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