Fundamental Cases on the Fourth Amendment by Adam J. McKee

To hear a case, a court must have jurisdiction.  In many criminal justice applications of the word jurisdiction, the term simply means the geographic area where an agency or agency (such as a police officer) has lawful authority.  The term’s meaning is more complex at law.  When the term is used in reference to courts, it is often referring to what is known as subject matter jurisdiction.  Also, a court must have jurisdiction over the person.  Jurisdiction over the person can generally be regarded as custody; that is, forcing the individual to appear before the court.

Geographic jurisdiction is a concern in court matters.  The rule is that a court cannot hear a matter that occurred outside of the geographic boundary of the court’s authority.  Today, these geographical boundaries are often greatly expanded by statute.  When it comes to courts, geographical jurisdiction is linked to subject matter jurisdiction.  For example, a Louisiana court could not try a person for a criminal offense committed in Arkansas; the Louisiana court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over an Arkansas crime.  When a matter does go to trial, the geographical location of the trial is known as venue.  Changing courts in the same jurisdiction will usually not raise questions of proper venue.  In criminal matters, the proper venue is the county where the crime took place (in state matters) or the district where the crime took place (in federal matters).

It is possible to hold a trial in a different venue, but only at the request of the accused.  The state cannot lawfully change venue.  A change of venue is accomplished by the defense making a motion to do so.  The court will only grant such a request if it is determined that the accused cannot possibly receive a fair trial in the original venue.

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File Created: 07/30/2018
Last Modified: 08/10/2018


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