In law, the term subject-matter jurisdiction implies the authority that a court has to hear particular types of cases that relate to a certain subject matter. Defining subject-matter jurisdiction is necessary in that it ensures that courts have the capacity to determine cases. A good example of this is where bankruptcy courts have the capacity to determine bankruptcy cases. Personal jurisdiction, on the other hand, means the jurisdiction a court has over the parties to a case (Chemerinsky, 2004).
A federal court has personal jurisdiction in a matter where one of the parties has contact with the area where the court is located. Any person within the territory of the court can be arrested. The court also has the power to reach all persons of its state, even those who are outside the country.
Personam jurisdiction implies that a lawsuit is directed towards a specific person. As such, this person should be served with the complaint and summons so as to give the court necessary jurisdiction to commence judgment (Leighton et al. 2001). In rem jurisdiction refers to when a lawsuit is applied to an ‘all the world’ situation. Quasi in rem jurisdiction refers to the power that the court has to enforce a judgment against one party, regardless of the party’s presence or absence in court.
A criminal case involves the state as a party. This means that when one commits a crime, the crime is against the society or the state. Criminal cases have as their punishment a potential jail term. Civil cases, on the other hand, refer to cases between two parties where the state is not a party. Their punishment is usually in terms of monetary punishment. The two cases also have a different standard of proof (Leighton et al. 2001).
Chemerinsky, E. (2004). Federal jurisdiction. Boston: Little, Brown.
Leighton, P., & Reiman, J. H. (2001). Criminal justice ethics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.