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  • DTP Success Team

DSST Criminal Justice Study Guide

Updated: Feb 14

Prepare for Success: DSST Criminal Justice Exam Outline

Are you studying for the Criminal Justice DSST exam?

Look no further – our comprehensive outline is the ultimate study guide to help you succeed.

This exam covers many topics, including law enforcement, the court system, corrections, and much more.

Proper preparation is vital to passing your Criminal Justice DSST test.

Using our study guide and dedicating time to review and practice, you can demonstrate your knowledge and skills on test day.

Don't leave your success to chance – leverage our outline to streamline your study process and maximize your chances of passing the Criminal Justice DSST exam.

With determination and commitment, you'll be one step closer to achieving your academic goals.


Table of Contents


1. Criminal Behavior

Man holding another man at gun point in the back.
Criminal Behavior (14% - 16%)

Defining Crime

Crime is a multifaceted concept encompassing various elements, including conduct, societal harm, and formal sanction.

At its core, it denotes an action contravening established criminal laws.


Crime in the United States

In the United States, crime reporting adheres to the Hierarchy Rule, prioritizing the most severe offense in incidents involving multiple criminal acts.


Theories of Crime

Theoretical Perspectives on Crime offer valuable insights into its origins and manifestations.

Classical theory emphasizes rational decision-making by individuals, while Positivist theory explores the interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors in criminal behavior.


Types of Crime

Crime manifests in diverse forms, presenting unique challenges to law enforcement and society.

Categories such as hate crimes, drug offenses, and gang-related activities highlight the complexity of criminal behavior.


Crime Measurement

Efforts to measure crime involve sophisticated methodologies and systems, including the UCR (Uniform Crime Report), NIBRS (National Incident-Based Reporting System), and NCVS (National Crime Victimization Survey), enabling authorities to track and analyze criminal activity effectively.


Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile delinquency pertains to the involvement of minors in unlawful conduct, with a "juvenile delinquent" defined as a minor who violates the penal code.

Understanding and addressing juvenile delinquency is crucial for fostering a safe and secure society.


DSST Criminal Justice Trivia Question # 184


2. Criminal Justice System

Photographer taking photos at a crime scene.
Criminal Justice System (24% - 26%)

Common Law Influence

The criminal justice system in the United States draws significant influence from the English legal tradition, particularly the "Common Law" system.

This historical framework has shaped critical aspects of American jurisprudence, including legal procedures and principles.


Ensuring Due Process

Central to the American legal system is due process, which mandates that individuals accused of criminal acts must be afforded fair and reasonable legal procedures.

This principle safeguards the fundamental rights of individuals, ensuring that they are not unjustly deprived of life, liberty, or property.


Structure of Criminal Justice Agencies

In the United States, criminal justice agencies operate within a structured framework overseen by the Attorney General.

As the highest authority in law enforcement and prosecution, the Attorney General plays a pivotal role in coordinating and supervising the activities of various agencies involved in the administration of justice.


3. Police

Police arresting young man.
Police (19% - 21%)

Introduction of Centralized Municipal Police Departments

In the 1830s, the concept of centralized municipal police departments was introduced to the United States, marking a significant development in law enforcement organization and administration.


Understanding Societal Roles and Functions

These police departments are crucial in maintaining law and order within communities.

One of their primary functions is to investigate criminal activities and apprehend individuals suspected of committing offenses against the law.


Exploring Issues and Trends

Policing constantly evolves to address emerging challenges and societal changes.

Developing issues shape policing practices, often leading to fundamental transformations in law enforcement strategies and methodologies.


Analyzing Occupational Characteristics

Police officers exercise discretionary powers in various situations, influenced by their attitudes, training, and organizational culture.

Understanding these occupational characteristics sheds light on how law enforcement personnel navigate their roles and responsibilities in the community.


DSST Criminal Justice Trivia Question # 233


4. Court System

Convict standing in front of a judge in court.
Court System (19% - 21%)

Origins Through the Judiciary Act of 1789

The Judiciary Act of 1789 stands as a foundational law in establishing the judicial system of the United States, laying the groundwork for the organization and structure of the court system.


Supreme Court: Pinnacle of Judicial Authority

At the apex of the judicial hierarchy stands the Supreme Court, wielding ultimate jurisdiction and authority over legal matters within the nation.


Exploring Adult Court Systems

Within the judicial landscape, several court systems cater to distinct legal domains, including civil, criminal, bankruptcy, and appellate courts, each serving unique functions and objectives.


Navigating the Juvenile Court

Juvenile court systems address cases involving minors, with involvement from various stakeholders, such as law enforcement, parents, victims, schools, and probation officers, to ensure juvenile justice and rehabilitation.


Examining Pretrial, Trial, and Post-trial Processes

From pretrial proceedings involving bail considerations to the trial phase incorporating plea bargaining and evidence presentation, the court system guides cases through a structured legal process, culminating in post-trial activities such as sentencing.


Analyzing Sentencing Objectives and Trends

Sentencing aims encompass diverse objectives, including retribution, isolation, deterrence, and rehabilitation, reflecting evolving trends and societal perspectives on justice and punishment.


5. Corrections

Man behind bars in handcuffs.
Corrections (19% - 21%)

Historical Context and Genesis

Corrections emerged as a means to manage societal undesirables, such as criminals and the impoverished, seeking to either remove them from public spaces or exert control over their behavior.


Deterrence and Punishment

Corrections systems have traditionally operated under the belief that punitive measures deter criminal behavior, aiming to dissuade others from engaging in unlawful acts through penalties.


Exploring Intermediate Sanctions

Intermediate sanctions, including measures like electronic monitoring, occupy a middle ground between traditional probation and imprisonment, offering a stricter alternative to probation while mitigating the costs associated with incarceration.


Navigating Adult Prison Systems

The United States boasts the world's largest prison population, reflecting a significant reliance on incarceration as a means of addressing criminality.


Delving into Juvenile Correction Alternatives

In juvenile justice, disciplinary approaches encompass therapeutic interventions and community service initiatives, aiming to rehabilitate and reintegrate youthful offenders into society.


Contemplating Capital Punishment

Capital punishment, administered by governmental authorities, remains a contentious issue, with debates surrounding its ethical implications and efficacy as a deterrent.


Understanding Prison Dynamics and Inmate Characteristics

Within prison environments, inmate groups often form as a means of self-protection, while inmate characteristics, shaped by crime types, reveal insights into the composition of incarcerated populations.


Challenges and Emerging Trends

The escalating incarceration rate in the United States presents ongoing challenges, necessitating responses to address new issues and trends in corrections, reflecting the dynamic nature of the criminal justice landscape.


DSST Criminal Justice Trivia Question # 460


6. Conclusion: DSST Criminal Justice

Police vehicle.

Navigating the Exam Outline

Our concise outline provides a snapshot of the essential topics you'll encounter on the DSST Criminal Justice exam.

However, it's crucial to delve into each subject with a reliable study resource for a more profound comprehension.


Unlocking Comprehensive Study Solutions

Access the most extensive DSST course library globally, tailored to equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to excel on test day.

Our comprehensive study materials offer thorough coverage of the exam's content, ensuring you're fully prepared for any question that comes your way.


Assess Your Current Knowledge

Test your current level of understanding with our free practice test, designed to gauge your proficiency and identify areas for improvement.

Utilize this valuable tool to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses before diving into your study regimen.


Flexible Learning for Busy Lifestyles

Our self-paced online courses provide a flexible solution that fits seamlessly into your busy schedule.

Study at your own pace, review material as often as needed, and reinforce your learning with interactive resources and practice quizzes.


Embark on Your Test Prep Journey

As you start your test preparation journey, equip yourself with the resources and support you need to succeed.

With our comprehensive study solutions and dedication to your success, you'll be well-prepared to conquer the DSST Criminal Justice exam confidently.

Best of luck on your journey!


7. Student Resources


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