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Quick Fire basic legal facts

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What is Criminology ?

Criminology examines why people commit crime, these are the pivotal questions in the ongoing debate of how crime should be handled and prevented. It is an area of law that deals with victims of crime, theories explaining illegal and/or deviant behaviour, the social reaction to crime, the effectiveness of anti-crime policies and the broader political terrain of social control.

Areas of expertise of Criminologists(small example)

Anomie, Social Control Theories
Labelling Theory and Critical Criminology
White Collar Crime

What is Forensic Psychology?

(The science of Behaviour)

Forensic Psychology is used within the justice system to assess offenders, identify criminal capacity in young people and to characterise psychopaths. Identify fitness to stand trial and finally they can be used to determine the likelihood of future violence. Can be used to assess the future criminality of offending minors

Areas of expertise of Forensic Psychologists (small sample)

Criminal Responsibility and Psychiatric Defences
Mental Disorder as a Defence
Eyewitness Testimony

What is Criminal Psychology?

Criminal Psychology (The study of criminal minds)

Criminal Psychology is in plain English, the study of why criminals do what they do. In essence, it is the study of the mental processes, motivational patterns, and behaviour of criminals.

Areas of expertise of Criminal Psychologists (small sample)

Offender Profiling
Geographical Profiling
Eye witness testimony

The District Court deals with?

The District court deals with criminal law mostly and some civil law cases where claims are less than €15,000.  

It has limited jurisdiction and deals with:

  • Damages
  • Family Law
  • Minor Offences
  • Landlord and Tenant Disputes
  • Licence applications

The District Court in Civil Law also deal with Small Claims less than €2,000.

The Circuit Court deals with?

The circuit court deals with claims between €15,000 and 75,000. 

Also deals with tort up to €60,000.  

It has limited jurisdiction and deals with:

  • Disputes over contracts
  • Land ownership
  • Non-minor offences except murder, rape or assault.
  • Family Law
  • Granting of licence applications

The Special Criminal Court deals with?

This court deals with high profile criminals and terrorist cases.

There is no jury but there are 3 Judges rather than 1.

The Court of Criminal Appeal deals with?

This court is an appellate court, it has no jury and normally 3 judges hearing the appeals from the lower courts.

The High Court deals with?

The High Court handles claims of more than €75,000. It has unlimited jurisdiction and hears more serious cases with larger contract or tort claims.

This court deals with:

  • Disputes over land
  • More serious Family Law (Custody and adoption cases)
  • Bankruptcy
  • Company law matters

The High court also operates a Commercial Court where a claim is no less than €1 million and will be resolved in 21 days.

The Supreme Court deals with?

This court is the final court, it hears the appeals of the lower courts.  It has no jury and either 3, 5 or 7 judges sit depending on the case and each make their own judgements.  Decisions are made on majority rulings.

The highest court in Ireland is known as the?

The Supreme Court

The second highest court in Ireland is known as the?

Court of Appeal

The lowest court in Ireland is known as the?

Small Claims Court

Criminal law involves?

Criminal Law – Public Law

It involves someone being prosecuted for an unlawful crime they carried out.  The Prosecution is the side bringing the criminal to court who are seeking retribution or punishment to the Defendant and the Defendant is the criminal. Criminal offences range from minor such as driving without seatbelt or tax, to more serious offences such burglary, murder or rape.  If found Guilty, the Defendant may be sanctioned for their crime, they may also be found Not Guilty.

Civil law involves?

Civil Law – Public Law

Civil Law is to resolve civil disputes between parties.  The Plaintiff is suing the Defendant and this does not usually involve the State unless the State is being sued by the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff must prove on the balance of probabilities that the Defendant is Liable and seek compensation. The penalties in Civil law may be damages, court orders or injunctions.  If not enough evidence is found to be enough than the Defendant will be found Not Liable.

What is the name of the lawyer who brings a criminal case to court?

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)

The Irish Constitution is known as?

The Irish Constitution is a legal document that states the principles and rights of Irish citizens. It is the primary source of law in Ireland. 

Bunreacht na hEireann is?

The Irish Constitution

In Ireland, a law (which is also called a “Bill”) passed by the Oireachtas is called?

An “Act” which becomes law.

In Bunreacht na hEireann the numbered points are called?


A referendum is needed if the Government wants to change? Ture or False?

The Government needs a Referendum if they want to change or amend the Constitution.  a referendum is a voe by plebiscite (vote of the common people)

Explain the following in EU law:

What are the main duties and responsibilities of the General Court?

This court is known as the “Court of First Instance”, it must implement the EU Law and consists of 28 judges who are a member of each state.  This court hears cases by private persons or business or actions that are brought by member states to the Commission.  Hearings from this court may be appealed to the European Court of Justice.

What are the main duties and responsibilities of the ECJ?

The European Court of Justice is the final court and is in charge of the legal work of the European Union.  The main function are to hear cases brought by the member states national courts or by individual persons and in Commission, Parliament or Council.  It is not possible to appeal a decision made by the ECJ.

Four Courts

Dublin Round Hall

The Irish Legal System

Private Investigation Course


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