What is Jurisdiction?

A particular court’s jurisdiction refers to what types of cases it is authorized to hear, or the scope of its power. A court of general jurisdiction is a court that can hear any type of case that may arise within its assigned geographic location, such as civil, criminal, or family.

Most state court systems divide jurisdiction between various courts. For example, a new case in the state courts of Colorado would be filed in a trial level court. Which trial level court depends on the type of case being filed: municipal court for municipal code violations, small claims courts for civil disputes valuing $7,500 or less, county courts for state law matters, civil disputes above the small claims limit, traffic offenses, and misdemeanor criminal offenses, and state district courts for felony offenses, civil matters exceeding the jurisdiction of county courts, and other specified matters.

Importantly, each of these courts have their own set of rules, deadlines, and procedures. For example, civil cases in the county courts are governed by the Colorado Rules of County Court Civil Procedure, whereas criminal cases in the county courts are governed by Colorado Rule of Criminal Procedure. Failure to adhere to the correct rules may result in dismissal of your case.

Most adverse decisions entered within trial level courts may be appealed. The court that has jurisdiction over a particular appeal is determined by the court that entered the final order at the trial level. The district court hears most appeals from the municipal courts and county courts (civil and criminal). Appeals from the district court are within the jurisdiction of the Colorado Court of Appeals. Finally, an adverse decision from the court of appeals may be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

If you file your case in the incorrect court, the court will dismiss the matter for lack of jurisdiction – regardless of the merits of your claim.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation.