Law is the term for the rules of governmental institutions that govern human activity. It shapes society, politics and economics. However, the concept of law is usually divided into three categories: common law, federal law, and civil law.
Common law is a legal system that is based on decisions made by courts. It was primarily developed in England. Several modern legal systems share many features of common law.
Federal law, on the other hand, is a system that is enforced by the U.S. government, which includes the Supreme Court. There are also state-enforced laws, which can be created by single legislators or by groups of lawmakers. In addition, the executive branch can make laws through decrees.
A lawsuit is a court proceeding that is initiated by the plaintiff and defendant against one another. The plaintiff initiates the case by filing a complaint, which is a written statement that outlines the facts of the case. Typically, a lawsuit will be resolved without going to trial.
When the case is resolved, the judge issues a judgment. This decision will establish the rights of the parties. For example, a defendant may be awarded money for loss or a judgment can be issued for failure to perform a legal duty.
If the defendant is found guilty of a crime, the court can order that the defendant be sentenced. Depending on the criminal statutes, a sentence can include imprisonment or even death. In some cases, a temporary restraining order is issued, preventing the defendant from doing something that could harm the victim or others.
Appeals can be made from the initial judgment. Typically, an appeal is made to a higher court, which will review the initial judgment and decide whether it is valid. Sometimes, a party will challenge the judge’s interpretation of the law or the procedures used to bring the case to court.
An indictment is a formal charge issued by a grand jury. Usually, an indictment is used for felonies.
A court will normally hear the case in an en banc session, which means that all the members of the court will sit for the hearing. In rare cases, a larger panel of judges will be assembled. During deliberations, juries can be sequestered to protect them from outside influences.
Evidence is a document, testimony, or physical evidence that helps prove or disprove a party’s case. Often, exculpatory evidence (that is, evidence proving the defendant’s innocence) will be presented to the defendant.
Defendants who are not eligible for representation by an attorney can seek help from a public defender. Public defenders represent those who are indigent and cannot afford to pay for an attorney.
Laws may be enforced by the president of the United States or by the state legislatures in each individual state. State-enforced laws can be enacted by an executive, through a decree, or by a group of legislators. Similarly, a federal law can be made by the president, through a presidential directive, or by the legislatures of a particular state.