Law is a set of rules that forms a framework to ensure a safe and peaceful society. People have different opinions about what the law is, and many books with a wide range of definitions have been written. The law helps ensure that everyone is treated fairly, and it protects people from being abused by the government or other powerful people. The law also provides a means to resolve disputes. For example, if two people claim to own the same property, the law can decide who is the rightful owner. The law can also punish people who commit crimes.
Law can be divided into two domains: public law and private law. Public law concerns the government and society, including constitutional law, administrative law, and criminal law. Private law involves legal disputes between individuals and/or organisations in areas such as contracts, property, torts/delicts and commercial law.
The law is made by and enforced by a government, which can be either national or local. Governments that are stable and democratic serve the function of law well, but there are many places in the world where political-legal authority is disputed. Revolutions occur regularly, and aspirations for greater civil rights are a common feature of modern life.
A legal system that is based on the articulation of legal principles in a historical succession of judicial decisions rather than statutes passed by a legislature. This system is commonly known as common law. It was developed in England and is now the predominant system of law in the United States, although it can be modified by legislative action.
In the United States, the word “law” has several meanings. It may refer to a set of statutes enacted by the Congress or state legislatures and signed into effect by the governor, or it may refer to the entire body of federal and state case law. It is sometimes used to describe the rules and procedures of a particular court or jurisdiction.
Other important terms in this article include:
A document that lists all the charges against a defendant in a lawsuit, along with a description of the evidence that supports each charge. This is usually prepared by the prosecutor and presented to the jury during the trial.
An accusation that a person committed a crime; this is the first step in a prosecution, and it is called an indictment when the offense is a felony. An indictment is similar to a complaint, but it is usually used for more serious offenses, such as murder or rape.
An officer in a court who oversees its administrative functions, especially managing the flow of cases through the court and maintaining court records. A chief judge has primary responsibility for this role. Clerks are often described as a court’s central nervous system.