What Is Law?
Law is a system of rules that regulates the behavior of individuals or groups. These rules can be made through social or governmental institutions, and are enforced by a controlling authority.
There are many types of laws and legal systems, including civil law, common law, and religious law. A variety of legal sources are recognized as authoritative, including codifications in statutes or constitutions, customs, and judgments by judges.
In the United States, the most important law is called the Constitution, which is a written document that governs the government and establishes rights. It also creates a framework for judicial decisions.
Other kinds of laws include administrative law, which governs a state’s activities and is used to enforce certain policies. It includes rules on business, labor, and consumer protections.
Criminal law entails the process of prosecuting people for crimes, and imposing sentences. This can involve a prosecutor and a jury. The judge makes a charge, and the jury decides whether or not to convict the defendant.
Evidence law involves how the court may examine documents and other evidence in a case to help determine what is actually happened. This includes the discovery process, when lawyers study documents and other evidence in order to prepare a case for trial.
Procedure law deals with the rules that courts must follow as a trial and appeals proceed, and with how a citizen’s right to a fair trial or hearing is protected. This covers such things as a quorum, which is the number of judges who must be present at any given time during a trial or other legal proceedings.
Courts can sit in panels of three judges, or expand to a larger number when they deem the matter so important that a majority of them must decide it. Appellate courts, which have authority to review and overturn lower-court decisions, often sit in what is known as a “full bench,” with the entire membership of the court participating.
The law has been a key factor in shaping politics, economics, history, and society. Its power over citizens has been a major motivation for revolutions and aspirations for democracy and greater “rights.”
A legal system is the body of legal rules that govern a country or region. It can vary in scope and form, but it is generally based on rules and principles established by the legislature or other central body. Some countries have a system of civil law, where laws are codified and consolidated by the legislature; other nations use a system of common law, in which judge-made precedent is considered binding.
The rule of law ensures that justice is delivered in a timely, competent, and impartial manner. Its processes are accessible, fair, and efficient, and it reflects the makeup of the community it serves.