A court’s jurisdiction is “the authority given by law to a court to try cases and rule on legal matters within a particular geographic area and/or over certain types of legal cases.” Basically, it is a court’s area of authority. For example, the State of Indiana would not have jurisdiction to hear cases that happen in the state of Illinois. However, within a state, whether a case is heard in a Federal, State, County, or Municipal court can depend on a number of factors, including the type of case or the amount of money involved.
In civil cases, choosing the jurisdiction and venue is an important question for a plaintiff to consider to gain an advantage over the defendant. The advantage may be the law (state or federal), location (for example, Cook County versus DuPage County), or the pool of judges (state, federal, or county). Also, choosing the incorrect jurisdiction or venue may result in the case being dismissed or ultimately transferred.
For criminal cases, jurisdiction and venue is almost always decided based upon where the alleged crime occurred. However, sometimes officers make mistakes when they make arrests outside of their county, and the police department may file the charges in the wrong clerk’s office. When this happens the defendant has the opportunity to file a Motion to Dismiss.
The defendant must take this opportunity before a trial starts. If a trial begins before a defendant objects to an improper venue, the objection will be waived, as noted in 720 ILCS 5/1-6. When an objection is raised in writing before the trial, the court may dismiss the case based on the fact that the court lacks jurisdiction.
The court can either dismiss the case without further pleadings, or conduct further hearings to determine any issues. These further hearings could then result in a dismissal of the case or the transferal of the case to a court with the appropriate jurisdiction.
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, speak with a lawyer who can help determine if the case can be dismissed based on a court’s lack of jurisdiction. Contact Richard at Fenbert & Associates, LLC for a free consultation.