Law is a set of rules enforceable by social institutions. Law serves to preserve individual rights, to provide orderly social change, to protect minorities against majorities, and to maintain the status quo. In addition, law can serve as a means to keep peace and stability in a nation.
Law is divided into three categories: statutory law, common law, and civil law. Statutory law is created by a legislature or executive branch. Common law, on the other hand, is created by a court. Common law is based on the court’s decisions and is broader than statutory law.
Statutory law involves issues of monetary and property rights, contracts, and other legal agreements. Land law, which concerns rental agreements and covenants, is the most complicated type of property law. It also covers rights to property, such as intangible personal property. Among other things, it regulates such areas as banking, finance, and real estate.
Common law is a system of judicial decisionmaking, including the doctrine of precedent. Unlike statutory law, it explicitly acknowledges that the court’s decisions are “law”. Moreover, it makes explicit reference to the decisions of the judicial branches.
Civil law is a legal system that is less detailed and requires fewer judicial decisions. Generally, a civil law jurisdiction has a shorter statute of limitations and a lower standard for judicial decisionmaking.
Civil law systems include a clerk of court, who maintains the court’s records, a chief judge who administers the court, and a jury pool. These are typically composed of randomly selected jurors from voter registration banks. The clerk’s role is to assist the judge in managing cases and flow of cases through the court.
The courts of appeal are often bound by the decisions of the district court. However, in significant cases, the courts of appeal may expand to a larger number of judges.
The Supreme Court is the highest court of each state. Judicial officers of the Supreme Court are justices.
Issues of law can arise from family problems, sudden events, or planned events. They can be heard in federal or state courts. There are different types of laws, such as debt, consumer protection, housing, immigration, and workplace rights.
A complaint is a written statement of the plaintiff. It alleges that the defendant committed some wrong, such as violating a statutory right. Usually, evidence is presented, such as documents, photographs, and testimony. Testimony is oral evidence presented during the trial. If the defendant is not found guilty at the trial, he can appeal to the court of appeals.
Alternatively, the defendant can seek to change the court, which is called a motion. Motions can be filed before the trial begins, or during the trial. Before the jury is chosen, a selection process known as voir dire takes place. Once the jury has been chosen, the judge gives the jury instructions. After the trial, a verdict is made, which is an official judgment of the case.
An indictment is a formal charge issued by a grand jury. An indictment is used primarily in felonies. Felonies are punishable by a year or more in prison. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes.