What is the Court of Jurisdiction?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 22 January 2020
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The court of jurisdiction refers to which court has the right or the power to hear a case or argument and render a judgment. In matters of federal law, a federal court would be the court of jurisdiction. In minor civil matters with values of $5,000 U.S. dollars (USD) or less, a small claims court would have jurisdiction. Municipal courts hear cases with values of $25,000 USD or less and superior courts hear cases valued at $25,000 USD or more.

When deciding on a court of jurisdiction, it is important to decide which type of matter the court will hear. There are, for example, family courts, criminal courts, small claims courts, state courts and federal courts. Each type of court hears only certain types of arguments or cases. It is important to bring the case in front of the correct court of jurisdiction in order to be heard.

In criminal cases, the court of jurisdiction will often be the court in the town or city where the offense was committed. If the criminal act was against a person or public property, the municipal court will typically oversee the case. In traffic cases and other matters such as divorce or bankruptcy, the civil court will typically oversee the hearing.


It is the obligation of a defendant to challenge a court of jurisdiction matter. While some trials are held out of their jurisdiction and not challenged at time of trial, the case and the matter of court of jurisdiction may be challenged on appeal. Along with jurisdiction comes venue. Venue is the location of the court, referring to what city or state the court is in. For the most part, the proper venue is located in the city the defendant lives in.

There are three matters to consider when deciding on the court of jurisdiction: Whether the court has judicial power over the person going on trial, it has power over which type of crime is going to be tried, and if it has the power to instill the punishment that is being sought.

These are important factors to consider. In deciding on the court's ability to rule over someone it must be established that the person is under the guidelines of that court's laws. Considering the type of crime, it must be decided if the court can rule over the crime. For example, a small claims court could not rule on a case involving $50,000 USD. And finally, the court must have the ability to punish. Traffic court could not sentence someone to many years in prison or death for a murder.


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