The Court System: A Criminal Justice Specialization

Court System

The Court System mainly exists to determine the guilt or innocence of accused persons and pass sentencing. It provides a forum to resolve disputes and to test and enforce laws in a reasonable manner.

If you’re currently pursuing a criminal justice degree with the goal of kicking off your career in the field, or even if you’ve already got your degree and are simply changing careers, the Court System is a wide profession with multiple opportunities. Moreover, apart from offering great work-life balance, most careers in the field pay very well.

Top careers in the profession

Here are some of the best careers on within the Court System:

Court reporters
These professionals transcribe, verbatim, court proceedings, speeches, meeting minutes, and other important details that must be documented. In other words, they prepare written transcripts for court records. The reporters may also be called upon to assist a judge or trial attorney to locate legal documents or to provide closed-captioning and translation services for persons with hearing problems.

To become a court reporter, aside from your criminal justice degree, it’s best to have real-time on-the-job voice writing training.

Judges and magistrates
These are professionals responsible for applying and supervising legal proceedings. They preside over all cases and ensure that suspects appearing before the courts receive fair trial and that these people’s civil rights are protected. Judges can also work in their private offices performing court administrative duties, reading court documents, or conducting legal research. They can work for the federal government, for a particular state, or as judges for government administrative agencies.

To become a judge/magistrate, you need to get a criminal justice degree, earn a law degree, pass a Bar Exam, work as an attorney, and then obtain judgeship.

Lawyers and attorneys
Lawyers form the backbone of the legal system and are required to live up to a strict ethical code. Also known as attorneys, they act as advocates and advisors. As advocates, a lawyer uses evidence to defend a client at trial. As advisors, they advise clients on their rights and provide advice on how to deal with legal issue. There are many areas of specialization for lawyers to pursue like environmental, bankruptcy, criminal, international, and so on.

To qualify for the position, a candidate needs a relevant undergraduate degree, a law degree, and must also pass a Bar Exam.  

Paralegal and legal assistants
Also known as legal assistants, paralegals primarily help attorneys by undertaking any task assigned by the attorney. They are, however, not permitted to give legal advice, set legal fees, or litigate in court.

There are a few institutions offering bachelors and master’s degree programs in paralegal studies but anyone with a criminal justice degree can be considered. Other than that, one can also get a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA), Certified Paralegal (CP), or Registered Paralegal certificate in preparation for the career.

Forensic scientists
Forensic scientists retrieve and examine crime scene evidence. They often examine blood samples, saliva, fingerprints, and weapons in search of evidence to be used in court. They can also retrieve and examine bone fragments and reconstruct skeletons before writing a report on their findings. It is also the duty of forensic scientists to preserve evidence. Again, there are multiple areas of specialization here such as medical examination, crime scene investigation, and forensic engineering.

Interested persons are advised to obtain a bachelors degree in biology, chemistry, medical technology, microbiology, or a related field.  An internship to gain hands-on experience is also vital.

As you can see, there are so many different things you can do with a criminal justice degree. There’s something for all different types of people, depending on personal interests and professional strengths.

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