Law is a set of rules that are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. These laws may be established by a legislature, through decrees and regulations, or by judges through precedent.
There are many fields within law, including family law, contract law and criminal law. Other areas of law include immigration and nationality, as well as law affecting business and money.
The term “law” is derived from the Latin word lege, meaning “right.” It is used to describe rights that are granted by society and can be protected or changed through laws.
In the United States, the Constitution and other laws, such as laws of Congress, are generally enforceable by federal courts. State courts can also decide cases on the same issues, if they have jurisdiction to hear the case.
Court proceedings – Legal procedures in which cases are tried and judged by a jury or judge. They include arraignment, trial and appeal.
Discovery – The examination of facts and documents by lawyers before a court hearing begins. It usually takes place before a trial, but is sometimes done during the trial. It can help the court determine if the opponent’s evidence is credible or not.
Docket – A log of brief entries about the proceedings. It is usually kept by the court clerk.
En banc – Refers to a court session in which the whole court is present instead of just three judges. This is common in the U.S., but it can be done in other countries as well.
Jurisdiction – The geographic area over which a court has authority to hear and decide a case. The plaintiff initially chooses the court where the case will be heard, but the defendant can change the court if they are successful in an appeal.
Judgment – A decision by the judge or jury on whether a person is guilty or not. It is often followed by a punishment that can be fined or even put in jail.
Evidence – Information presented in testimony or in documents to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other. It includes facts about the event, statements made by witnesses, and exhibits such as contracts and weapons.
Exculpatory evidence – Evidence that tends to show the defendant’s innocence. It can be a witness’s testimony, a document, or photographs of the incident.
Appeals – Requests by a party for another court to review a judgment. It can be for a variety of reasons, including improper procedure or asking the court to change its interpretation of the law.
Laws are a reflection of the political landscape in which they are created and enforced, with a vast variety of powers being available for making and enforcing them. Revolutions and other upheavals are a recurring feature of politics, and often lead to new laws.
The science of law focuses on the study of the law, and how it works and operates. It is a field of study that is both fascinating and challenging, as it deals with the deep layers of complexity that are part of the legal framework.