Teresa Clyne

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Irish legal system

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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 Court Structure in Ireland

The Structure of the District Court in Ireland

The District Court was established in 1961. The currently President is Judge Rosemary Horgan and 63 ordinary judges. There are 24 Districts in Ireland, including the Dublin Metropolitan District, each with its own court being presided over by a judge sitting alone (that is, one judge, no jury).

District Civil Court

In civil cases, its monetary jurisdiction is limited to €15,000, meaning that that is the maximum award a judge can make in respect of a civil case.

District Criminal Court

In criminal matters, its jurisdiction is limited to cases which a judge sits alone, (there is no jury) the maximum penalty is 12 months’ imprisonment for one offence or 24 months for two or more offences.

Small Claims Court

The small claims court deals mainly with minor matters. It provides consumers with an inexpensive and fast way to resolve disputes. This court is dealt with through the District Court offices.


Circuit Court

The Circuit Court comprises of 37 ordinary judges and is presided over by Mr. Justice Raymond Groarke.

There are 8 Circuits in Ireland – Dublin, Cork, Eastern, South Eastern, Western, South Western, Northern, and Midlands. Dublin and Cork are the only permanent courts throughout the year.

Function & Jurisdiction of the Circuit Court

The Circuit Court hears civil and criminal cases in a variety of matters which also include de novo appeals from the District Court.

Structure of the Circuit Civil Court

The monetary jurisdiction in the Circuit Court is currently limited to where the claim does not exceed €75,000.00 and personal injury cases where the claim does not exceed €60,000,

Structure of the Circuit Criminal Court

The Circuit Court has a wide jurisdiction in respect of criminal matters.  It deals with all indictable offences which are sent forward from the District Court, however there are some exceptions, including rape, murder, aggravated sexual assault, treason, and piracy. These cases must be heard in the Central Criminal Court.


High Court

The High Court of Ireland has full original jurisdiction the power “to determine all matters and questions whether of law or fact, civil or criminal”. It can decide the validity of any law, having regard to the provisions of the Constitution.

Structure of the High Court of Ireland

The High Court is presided over by the Honourable Mr. Justice Nicholas Kearns and 36 ordinary judges. In Civil cases one judge sitting alone usually presides over the proceedings, but in some cases of defamation, assault and battery, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution all require a jury.

Structure of the High Court (Central Criminal Court) of Ireland

Where criminal matters are concerned, the High Court is referred to as the Central Criminal Court, or the Criminal Court area of the High Court.

Courts of Appeal

Appeals from the lower civil and criminal courts.


 The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court sits in the Four Courts in Dublin. It consists of the President or the Chief Justice, her Honour Ms. Justice Susan Denham and 7 ordinary judges.


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