Understanding the Basics of Law

Law is an established system of rules and regulations that governs the relationships between people, institutions, and organizations. It protects property rights, contracts, and procedural rights.

There are three categories of law: common, civil, and criminal. Common law originated in England. Civil law systems include legislative statutes and judicial decisions. Criminal law is a system of criminal procedure.

Legal issues can arise from a variety of circumstances. For example, when you’re accused of a crime, your family may need to reunite, or you might face a debt. You can find legal information on government and court websites.

Some legal systems, such as the common law, explicitly acknowledge court decisions as “law.” This is called the doctrine of precedent. The doctrine means that courts are bound by decisions of higher courts. Appeals are also possible.

Common legal issues involve family law, immigration, and housing. These issues can be brought to the attention of the courts through a lawsuit. A judge is usually the official who decides the case.

During a trial, evidence is presented orally. Evidence can include testimony, photographs, and physical evidence. Sometimes juries are sequestered during deliberations.

Cases can be filed in either a district court or a court of appeals. Appeals can be made on improper procedure or when a court has changed the interpretation of a law.

In a criminal case, the prosecutor tries the case on behalf of the government. The defendant is questioned about the charges and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.