Haiti's legal system is based upon the French Napoleonic Code. The judiciary consists of four levels: the Court of Cassation, courts of appeal, civil courts, and magistrates' courts. Judges of the Court of Cassation are appointed by the president for 10-year terms.

Government prosecutors, appointed by the courts, act in both civil and criminal cases. There are also land, labor, and children's courts.

Military courts function in both military and civilian cases when the constitution is suspended.

Until 1995, the Haitian armed forces controlled law enforcement and public security even though the constitution called for separation of the police and military. The 1987 constitution was put into effect in 1995. Although the constitution also calls for an independent judiciary, all judges since 1986 have been appointed and removed at the will of the government and political pressures affect the judiciary at all levels. The justices of peace issue warrants and adjudicate minor infractions. The Supreme Court deals with questions of procedure and constitutionality. Haiti accepts compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. On 9 June 2003, a treaty was ratified to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), with the first session of the CCJ scheduled for November 2003. Although Haiti was not among the eight nations to officially approve the CCJ, it did agree to use the CCJ for resolution of trade disputes.