The Syrian legal system is based partly on French law and partly on Syrian statutes. Investigating magistrates determine whether a case should be sent to trial. Minor infringements are handled by peace courts, more serious cases go to courts of first instance. There are civil and criminal appeals courts, the highest being the Court of Cassation. Separate state security courts have jurisdiction over activities affecting the security of the government. In addition, Shari'ah courts apply Islamic law in cases involving personal status. The Druze and non-Muslim communities have their own religious courts.
A Supreme Constitutional Court investigates and rules on petitions submitted by the president or one-fourth of the members of the People's Assembly challenging the constitutionality of laws or legislative decrees. This court has no jurisdiction to hear appeals for cases from the civil or criminal courts.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. The regular court system is independent; however, the state security courts are not completely independent from the executive.
There are no jury trials. The regular courts respect constitutional provisions safeguarding due process. The Supreme State Security Court tries political and national security cases. The Economic Security Court tries cases involving financial crimes. Both courts operate under the state of emergency rules overriding constitutional defendants' rights.