There are many types of jurisdiction in criminal cases. Below is a primer on some of the key ones. After reviewing them, make sure to check out our section on Criminal Jurisdiction. You’ll find more detail there—for instance, you can read about what determines whether a state or federal court hears a case.
Subject-matter jurisdiction. The power to hear and decide certain kinds of cases, such as criminal or civil, misdemeanor or felony. Statutes and constitutional provisions determine subject-matter jurisdiction.
Territorial jurisdiction. The geographic boundaries of a court’s jurisdiction. For example, municipal courts don’t have jurisdiction over crimes that occur outside the city limits, and states lack jurisdiction over crimes occurring in other states.
Personal jurisdiction. Whether the court has jurisdiction over a particular defendant. For instance, juvenile courts typically lose jurisdiction over minors after they turn eighteen.
General and limited jurisdiction. Courts of limited jurisdiction can handle only some cases, while courts of general jurisdiction can hear just about any other type of case. In most states, courts of limited jurisdiction preside over misdemeanors and other petty crimes, while felonies go to courts of general jurisdiction. If a defendant commits both a felony and a misdemeanor in the same course of conduct, the felony court can typically exercise jurisdiction over both offenses. Also, that court usually has the option of severing the misdemeanor charge and transferring it to the limited-jurisdiction court.
Exclusive and concurrent jurisdiction. A court has exclusive jurisdiction when it’s the only court that can hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction means that more than one court has jurisdiction over the case. (See If a crime occurs in two or more states, can each prosecute it?)