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Comparing France and Us Criminal Justice System

Essay by review  •  December 9, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,170 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,798 Views

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There many different criminal justice systems in the world today. Some that consists of many of the same policies and some that are considerably different. In the case of France and the U.S. there are a lot of similarities, but I will be focusing on the differences between each of their systems. The aspects that I will be comparing are police, courts, the legal profession, legal education, criminal procedural law, corrections, and juvenile justice and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The policing system in France is a lot different than the one in the U.S. In France there is one big centralized police system run by the government. Unlike the fragmented police model, which is found in the United States and is attributed to the federated nature of the political system, the centralized police system is imposed on the people by the national government. In France, the emphasis has been on establishing police forces is administered, supervised, and coordinated by the national government (Terrill 212). This is a major advantage because there are most likely the same laws throughout the country. Another difference in policing is the entry system. In America, all recruits have to start out as a patrolman before moving up to a higher ranking and a degree is not necessary for becoming a higher rank, and aren't required to have a degree. Today 83 percent of all local police departments require at least a high school diploma, and 8 percent require a degree from a two year college (Gaines and Miller 174).

France however, has a four tiered entry scheme which focuses on the university graduate. You must first become a patrol officer, but only with a degree and plenty of schooling and training, you can move up to a plainclothes officer, which are the equivalent of a lieutenant or chief of police. From their perspective, the multilevel entrance scheme enables the police to tap the creative resources of the university graduate (Terrill 224). The disadvantage of this is that many patrol officers with no degree could be just as know ledged and trained as a plainclothes officer, but not be able to move up in the rankings as fast as someone with a degree.

Another difference between the two countries is their court system. France does not practice judicial review. In the United States, the Supreme Court has the principle responsibility of ruling on the constitutionality of all laws. This kind of judicial review is not practiced in France (Terrill 232). In France they have the Constitutional council which has nine members serving a nine year term, they are responsible for election complaints and the legislation made in parliament. The advantage of this is that it reduces the conflict of jurisdictions. But the disadvantage is that our Supreme Court has a longer term than the Constitutional Council which allows more constant laws and fewer laws that will contradict each other.

The aspect of legal profession and legal education is also extremely different. To become a judge in France you must first obtain a law degree from a university law school. Next you must gain admission to the National School for the Judiciary at Bordeaux (Terrill 236). After completing this school, the candidate is now qualified to become a judge. The French system allows judges to begin their profession at an early age which could be a disadvantage because of lack of experience in the system, where judges in the United States are usually older and more knowledgeable.

The legal education is noticeably different from America. In France, students enter a university when they are approximately 18 years old, after they have completed their high school education with an award of the baccalaureate diploma (Terrill 242). In America you must go through undergraduate and graduate law school, and then pass the bar in order to get your law degree. It's an advantage because students in France start their career a lot earlier but the disadvantage is the amount of time spent on learning the statutes.

Another major difference is the criminal procedural law. France follows the Code of Criminal Procedure which explains the methods of investigating and

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