Personal Jurisdiction - Explained
What is Personal Jurisdiction?
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What is Personal Jurisdiction?
Personal jurisdiction regards the authority for a court to exercise jurisdiction over an individual.
How to establish personal jurisdiction is discussed below.
Next Article: Federal Personal Jurisdiction Back to: US COURT SYSTEM
Why is Personal Jurisdiction Required?
A court must have both subject-matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction in every case.
While subject-matter jurisdiction regards the court's authority to hear a certain type of case, personal jurisdiction regards the authority for a court to exercise jurisdiction over an individual.
That is, the court must have the legal authority to adjudicate the matter involving the specific individual.
Determining whether a court has personal jurisdiction over an individual is different for criminal and civil cases.
Personal Jurisdiction over Criminal Cases?
In a criminal case, a court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant if the defendant committed the alleged criminal conduct within the court's geographic jurisdiction.
A federal court will have personal jurisdiction over a defendant committing any criminal activity within the United States, though the specific district in which to prosecute the case is specified by Rule 18 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
A state court will have personal jurisdiction over a defendant committing any criminal activity within that state's borders.
There is a basis for a state court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant who committed a criminal act outside of the state if there is a detrimental impact on the state.
- Relevant Law: Strassheim v Daily, 221 US 280, 285; (1911), Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes wrote, that a state properly may punish a defendant for acts committed outside the state if those acts were intended to, and actually did, produce detrimental effects within the state.
Personal Jurisdiction in Civil Cases?
Establishing personal jurisdiction in civil cases requires that the court serve the defendant with a summons (or otherwise provide sufficient legal notice of the proceeding), also known as service of process.
A summons, along with the complaint, gives a defendant legal notice of the allegations against her and directs her to appear before the court on a given date.
The legal requirements for serving a summons on someone differ between state and federal courts and are discussed below.
- Relevant Law: International Shoe v Washington, 326 US 310 (1945), requiring minimum contacts with a state, sufficient not to offend notions of fair play and substantial justice.
An individual would assert a defense to the alleged crime rather than assert a lack of personal jurisdiction.
In a civil case, however, personal jurisdiction is a hotly debated topic.
This is particularly true for businesses that place products into the market for sale.
There is a great deal of uncertainty as to what amount of sales activity in a state will subject the business to personal jurisdiction in that state's courts.
Why are the requirements for personal jurisdiction different for criminal cases versus civil cases? Is there an argument for extending a state's personal jurisdiction over alleged criminal activity carried on outside of the state's jurisdiction?
- A state has police power to protect the health, welfare, and morality of its people. Protecting its citizens from criminal conduct occurring within the state is paramount. However, the state has little ability to protect its citizens from criminal conduct occurring outside of its borders. To exercise personal jurisdiction over an individual with minimum contacts with the state must be balanced against the Due Process rights of the individuals. Exercising criminal jurisdiction over a defendant puts in jeopardy their liberty and fundamental constitutional rights. There is an argument that these rights are too strong and fundamental to infringe upon if the individual did not commit the criminal conduct within the state.
Practice QuestionClarence lives in California. While he was visiting South Carolina, he was driving while intoxicated and crashed his vehicle. The wreck injured a bystander, Devon. Clarence, afraid that he would be arrested, quickly fled the scene of the accident. The next day he returned to California. What are the personal jurisdiction issues if the prosecutor's office in South Carolina seeks to bring criminal charges against Clarence for driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident? What are the personal jurisdiction issues if Devon wishes to sue Clarence?
- The SC prosecutor would need to seek an indictment and secure an arrest warrant before subjecting Clarence to prosecution within the state. To secure the arrest warrant, she would need to show the court that the criminal conduct occurred within the state, thus giving the state personal jurisdiction over Clarence for purposes of prosecution. The warrant would then be sent to California for the purpose of arresting and extraditing Clarence back to SC. For civil purposes, Deven could file a complaint against Devon in SC. He would need to demonstrate the Devon had minimum contacts with the state sufficient to satisfy the SC long-arm statute.
- US Courts (Intro)
- What is the Authority for Article III Courts?
- What is the Authority for Article I Courts?
- What is the authority for courts under Article II?
- What is the authority for Article IV Territorial Courts?
- What is the authority for State Courts?
- What are Article III Courts?
- What are Article I Administrative Courts?
- What are Article IV Territorial Courts?
- What are state courts?
- What is Subject-Matter Jurisdiction?
- What is Federal Court Subject-Matter Jurisdiction?
- What is State Court Subject-Matter Jurisdiction?
- Can a Federal trial courts hear state matters & vice versa?
- Can a Federal appellate court hear federal matters & vice versa?
- What is Personal Jurisdiction?
- How to establish Federal Court Personal Jurisdiction?
- How to establish State Court Personal Jurisdiction?
- What is a Long-Arm Statute?
- Who are the primary players in the state judicial system?
- What types of judges are part of the judiciary?
- What are the duties of trial judges in the legal system?
- Contempt of Court
- Declaratory Judgment
- Equitable Relief
- Equity - Definition
- What are the duties of Appellate Judges & Justices?
- De Novo Review
- What is the role of jurors in the judicial system?
- What number of jurors and juror votes are required for guilt or liability?
- What do Attorneys do?
- Who are the other players in the judicial system?
- US Circuit Court?
- US Supreme Court?
- Appeals from Legislative and Administrative Courts
- Appeals in the state court system?