An individual or a group breaking a law designed to protect society from harm is considered to have committed a crime. Because the public has suffered as a result of the crime, the people of the state or of the United States bring the action; they are represented in court by a public official who may be known as a district attorney, a public prosecutor, or a United States attorney. The jurisdiction of each court determines the types of crimes that are to be prosecuted there. Courts of limited jurisdiction generally hear lesser crimes, or misdemeanors, while courts of general jurisdiction try the more serious crimes, or felonies.

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