Need a unique essay?
Order now

Criminal Justice Essay Example: How Are European Trials Quite Different from U.S. Trials?

3 pages
636 words
University of California, Santa Barbara
Type of paper: 
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

There are notable differences between the European and the US criminal trials. The US uses an adversarial criminal system while mainland European countries use an inquisitorial legal system. In an adversarial system like the US, two opposing sides present their cases before a judge or jury. The criminal trial involves defense and prosecution attorneys who compete to convince the jury and the judge about their submissions and what witnesses to participate in a lawsuit. The two attorneys have a free choice concerning the information, issues, and facts to present before a judge and jury (Neubauer, 2013). On the other hand, the inquisitorial system as the name refers to a case inquiry where the judge is not limited to the submissions from both defense and prosecution lawyers. The judge has the right under the law to direct the lawyers to address particular issues or even involve specific witnesses. For instance, in the French system of criminal justice, the judge is the investigating magistrate engaged in directing trial procedures (Reichel, 2008).

In the US criminal trial procedure, the judge acts as an unbiased party who observes trial proceedings and ensures that the trial process flows smoothly. During the presentation by the defense attorney, the defendant may issue testimonies that may lead to the arrest of other criminals, and a lighter sentence can be granted (Neubauer, 2013). On the contrary, the inquisitorial system of criminal trial in most European countries like Germany does not make deals with the defendant. Such arrangements are rarely made. Similarly, the judge in the criminal trial is involved in all aspects of the trial. The judges actively participate and may interfere with the trial proceedings and may not allow the competing parties to fully exemplify their main issues as opposed to the US adversarial system (Reichel, 2008).

In the US criminal trial, the process involves many periods administered to allow the collection of evidence. The judge may issue a direction to pause and continue with the trial at a later scheduled date or time to let the defense and prosecution attorneys gather evidence, witnesses, and facts to support their submissions. On the contrary, the European system of trial does not allow recess, and the legal representation and witnesses are often fatigued. The court provides time to pause the proceeding when the case verdict has been established (Groning, 2010).

According to Kotz (2003), the jury is one of the most significant distinctions between the American and European trial process. The judge or a panel of judges decides on cases in Germany according to Kotz (2003). In his analysis of the German legal system, the judge may be assisted by Schoffen (lay judges). A jury in the US serves for a single trial while the lay judges may serve in numerous trials with the same judge in Germany. Therefore, the judge bows to the decision of the jury while in Europe; there is a deliberation between a judge and jury. However, in some cases, the judge can overturn the jurys decision in the US (Kotz, 2003).

Conclusively, the US legal system is quite different from that of European countries. However, it is important to note that the UK uses a similar adversarial system with the US hence certain similarities. Nevertheless, the trial proceedings differ significantly in the US and Europe with most European criminal trials following an inquisitorial legal system.



Groning, L. (2010). A Criminal Justice System or a System Deficit? Notes on the System

Structure of the EU Criminal Law. European Journal Of Crime, Criminal Law And Criminal Justice, 18(2), 115-137.

Kotz, H. (2003). Civil Justice Systems in Europe and the United States. SSRN Electronic

Journal. Google Scholar.

Neubauer, D. (2013). America's Courts and The Criminal Justice System. [S.l.]: Wadsworth.

Reichel, P. (2008). Comparative criminal justice systems. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson

Prentice Hall.

Have the same topic and dont`t know what to write?
We can write a custom paper on any topic you need.

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal: