Law is the set of rules that govern human behavior. Its basic purpose is to protect individuals, families, businesses, and society in general from the infringement of their rights. In modern societies, law is also an important part of the way people access justice. Legal issues arise when people face problems at work, at home, and in unexpected situations.
Law can be divided into three categories: criminal, civil, and administrative. Criminal law focuses on crimes. This includes felonies, which are punishable by a prison term of more than a year. The punishment is usually death for capital offenses.
Civil law, meanwhile, deals with common law topics such as business, property, debt, and consumer rights. These are legal issues that can be heard in both state and federal courts. Usually, a case begins with the filing of a complaint, which is a written statement that identifies the alleged wrongs committed by the defendant.
When a case is initiated, the plaintiff (the person filing a lawsuit) presents evidence in court. Exhibits can include photographs, documents, and other physical evidence. A judge may ask for additional evidence. Evidence that is not direct is referred to as circumstantial.
During a trial, the prosecutor, the government official who will be presenting evidence against the defendant, will make a charge against the defendant. The charge will describe the law that the police think the defendant broke. An accused is then asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
When the trial is complete, the judge decides whether the defendant is guilty or not. Normally, the decision is binding. However, parties can challenge the decision on appeal. Appeals can be filed if there was an error in the procedure, if the judge made an incorrect interpretation of the law, or if the decision was ineffective.
Courts of appeal are typically courts with three judges sitting in panels. These courts review decisions of lower courts. Sometimes, they expand to a larger number of judges in cases that are important. Some courts are en banc. En banc refers to sessions in which all the members of the court are present.
Administrative law concerns the practice of regulating businesses. For example, water and energy are regulated industries. Governments can regulate banks, corporations, and other entities. Competition law, meanwhile, regulates businesses that manipulate market prices. Similarly, aviation law aims to set standards for safety. Aviation regulations are often framed by national civil aviation acts.
While the legal system may have different names in different countries, the basics remain the same. Law is a complex field that affects virtually every aspect of a person’s life. Whether you are accused of a crime, need to sue for damages, or simply want to know more about your rights, there are a variety of resources available to you. Many websites are created by the government to help young people learn about the law.
Modern lawyers must have a Bachelor of Laws or a Master of Laws. They are also required to pass a qualifying examination.