What Is the Difference Between Venue and Jurisdiction?

Jurisdiction refers to whether a court has the legal authority to hear a case, and venue refers to where a court case will be heard. In a civil case (a dispute between two parties), venue is determined by where the parties live or where the original dispute arose. In a criminal case, the venue is determined by where the alleged crime occurred.

Jurisdiction and venue are both defined by state or federal law. If a court has jurisdiction of a legal matter, the judge may, if one of the parties to the case makes a request or on the court’s own initiative, determine that venue is not appropriate.

Venue in a civil case may be changed if neither party lives or does business in the jurisdiction where the case is being heard. Venue may also be changed for the convenience of the witnesses in a civil case.

In a criminal case, requests for change of venue are typically based on pre-trial publicity given that the defendant wants the case moved to an area where the jury pool has not had pre-trial media exposure. Changes of venue are granted or denied at the discretion of the trial judge, but both civil and criminal parties may appeal an adverse venue decision.