A jurisdiction is a territory over which a government agency presides. In the context of the law, courts and law enforcement agencies have jurisdictions. Agencies are free to exercise their authority and uphold and enforce the law within their jurisdiction, but not outside of it. Here's a look at some of the different types of jurisdictions.

Ancillary Jurisdiction

Ancillary jurisdiction is a type of jurisdiction that grants a federal court the power to hear a claim – even if the claim was out of its jurisdiction – if that claim is significantly related to a first claim inside its jurisdiction.

Appellate Jurisdiction

Appellate jurisdiction is the power that courts have to preside over appeals from lower courts. For example, the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over appeals from lower courts.

Concurrent Jurisdiction

Concurrent jurisdiction is when more than one court has jurisdiction over a particular claim. This frequently occurs between federal and state courts.

Diversity Jurisdiction

This is a type of jurisdiction that federal courts have in order to hear cases in which the parties are from different states – or in some cases, from different countries.

Federal Question Jurisdiction

Federal question jurisdiction is the authority that federal courts have to hear cases when there is a question of a violation of federal law, a U.S. treaty or the U.S. Constitution.

Original Jurisdiction

This kind of jurisdiction refers to when a court has jurisdiction to hear a case before an appeal is made. After an appeal is made, a court must have appellate jurisdiction to hear the appeal.

Pendent Jurisdiction

Pendent jurisdiction is a type of jurisdiction that federal courts have to hear trials that would normally be handled by state courts. Pendent jurisdiction only kicks in when a case is based on the same facts as a trial that is already taking place in federal court.

Pendent Party Jurisdiction

This is a type of jurisdiction that is granted to a court only when another issue that falls within its natural jurisdiction also occurs. So, a court will only hear a claim under pendent party jurisdiction when one claim happens outside its jurisdiction, and a related claim happens inside its natural jurisdiction.

Personal Jurisdiction

This refers to a court's authority to try an individual in a civil or criminal case. A court only has personal jurisdiction if the defendant has enough contacts and connection within the court's area of designated power; for example, if they have a business in the area, live in the area, or interacted with the plaintiff in the area.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Subject matter jurisdiction is when a court has the power to hear a claim based on the fact that the subject matter of the case falls under categories designated to the specific court.

Supplemental Jurisdiction

Supplemental jurisdiction is when a federal court can hear a claim outside its normal jurisdiction solely based on the fact that the claim is related to other claims within its normal jurisdiction. In order for supplemental jurisdiction to go into effect, the federal court must have jurisdiction through either diversity jurisdiction or federal question jurisdiction over at least one of the claims.

Territorial Jurisdiction

Territorial jurisdiction refers to a court’s power to hear claims and try cases for people within a certain territory, or defined area. American courts are given this power by the democratic approval of the citizens in the country.


Essentially, there are many different courts and many different types of jurisdictions. Which court has jurisdiction over a particular case depends largely on the nature of the case, and where it took place. However, if the case is related to another case involving the same incident, the geographic location is not as important. But, for isolated cases, geographic location is one of the most relevant factors as to which court has jurisdiction over the case.

Each court also has a subject matter that it specializes in. For example, federal courts handle federal crimes and state courts handle state crimes. So, the subject matter of the crime is also highly relevant for jurisdiction. In some circumstances, two courts will have jurisdiction over one case. In such situations, a defense attorney may request that the claim is heard in one court versus another.