Law is an official set of rules enforceable by social institutions. It shapes history, politics, economics, and social life. Law can be found in many different forms, from national constitutions to private contracts.
The practice of law is generally overseen by government. Individuals can also create legally binding contracts and agreements. Some areas of law that can affect individuals include taxation, banking, debt, consumer rights, immigration, and housing.
Legal issues can arise at any time and from many different areas of life. For example, a person could be accused of a crime, have a problem at work, or suffer an unexpected event. These legal issues can be resolved through the court system.
If someone is charged with a criminal offense, he or she is brought before the court and asked to plead guilty or not guilty. Evidence can be presented at a trial, including witness testimony and documents. At the conclusion of a trial, a judge may impose a sentence. This sentence determines the defendant’s rights and may punish the defendant for a crime.
There are two main types of legal systems. One is common law. Common law is a system of legal regulations that was developed in England. While this type of legal system explicitly acknowledges court decisions as “law,” it also includes the doctrine of precedent. What this means is that the decisions of one court bind the decisions of other courts.
A second legal system is civil law. Civil law is a system of legal regulation that is less detailed than common law. However, both legal systems have some similarities.
In the United States, federal question cases are handled in the federal court system. Federal courts use the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines when deciding on appropriate punishment for a criminal defendant. Typically, a conviction in a federal case will be penalized by a term of imprisonment.
An appeal can be filed to challenge a decision. Appeals are usually made to the court of appeals. Appeals are typically heard by a panel of three judges. Usually, the court of appeals will expand the court to a larger panel in important cases.
During a trial, the prosecution or the defense presents evidence. This evidence can include documents, photographs, and other physical exhibits. Often, the prosecutor will provide exculpatory evidence that points to the defendant’s innocence. On the other hand, the defense will present evidence of guilt.
In some cases, a judge may order an injunction. This injunction prohibits a particular action, or a series of actions. Depending on the situation, an injunction can be granted immediately or without notice.
Courts are usually supervised by a clerk. The clerk’s job is to maintain records and the flow of cases through the court. Other court officials include prosecutors and lawyers. Defendants who do not have attorneys can seek the assistance of a public defender.
Juries are usually comprised of a random selection from voter registration banks. Jurors sometimes are sequestered from outside influences during deliberations.