Law is the set of rules that social institutions enforce. This includes civil laws and criminal law. It also governs the economics and politics of society. These laws are created by the legislature of the country, the executive branch, and by the courts. The courts are the authority to hear cases and determine the rights of people.
Common law systems are those that explicitly acknowledge the decisions of the court as “law”. They include the doctrine of precedent, which means that a decision by a higher court is binding on all lower courts. There are also several different civil law legal systems.
The common law system was founded in England. However, it has since been adopted in other countries, such as France and Spain. A court in a common law jurisdiction is authorized to review and overturn a state-enforced law. In contrast, a court in a civil law jurisdiction is not required to have as many detailed judicial decisions.
The concept of natural law came from ancient Greek philosophy and the writings of Thomas Aquinas. It re-entered mainstream culture in the 18th and 19th centuries. Historically, religion has been used as a source of law. Some examples are Christian canon law, Jewish Halakha, and Islamic Sharia.
Courts have the power to make laws, and a law is considered valid if it is constitutional. Several issues can be heard in both state and federal courts. If the law is unconstitutional, the court can overturn it.
A trial is a formal proceeding in which the defendant is asked to plead guilty or not guilty. Evidence is presented orally and documentaryly during the trial. At the end of the trial, the judge makes an official judgment about the case.
An indictment is a formal charge issued by a grand jury. The jury then decides whether the defendant committed a crime. Typically, the indictment is for felonies.
When a defendant is convicted, he or she is punished by the court. For example, a capital offense is a crime punishable by death. Alternatively, a defendant may be released on probation. Occasionally, a person can seek to change the court if they feel the trial process was unfair or the verdict was not fair.
Law is usually managed by a government body, but private individuals can create legally binding contracts. A person can become a lawyer by acquiring a Bachelor of Laws or Doctor of Laws. Other higher academic degrees include the Bar Professional Training Course and the Master of Legal Studies.
Judges in common law systems are typically selected by seniority. The chief judge is responsible for the administration of the court. The clerk of the court assists in the administration of the court by maintaining the records of the court proceedings.
During a trial, a plaintiff presents a lawsuit, a statement of the facts of the case. The defendant responds with a counterclaim. Often, a complaint and counterclaim can be filed in the same case.