Questions WHY DO WE HAVE LAWS? And, WHO IS REPONSIBLE FOR MAKING THE LAW?
THE LAW IS DEFINED AS: A body of rules; Enacted by public officials; In a legitimate manner; Backed by the force of the state.
Questions How does JUSTICE fit into the law making process? And, Which is more important when considering laws, Rights of Individuals or the Common Good?
Origin of Anglo-American Law: COMMON LAW Three Basic Characteristics: 1) Judge-made; unwritten. 2) Case Law Based On Precedent (Stare Decisis) – promotes fairness and consistency. 3) Multiple Sources: Constitutions (Fundamental basis of federal and state laws); Statutes (Legislative); Administrative Regulations and or Court Rules (Legislative/Judicial); and, Judicial Decisions, i.e., appellate decisions (Judicial).
Two TYPES of LAW Substantive Law: Law that deals with the content or substance of the law – legal obligations. Civil law examples include: tort law, contract law, and domestic relations, i.e., legal grounds for a divorce. Criminal law examples include: murder, robbery, and burglary. Procedural Law: Law that outlines the legal processes to be followed in starting, conducting, and finishing a lawsuit. Examples include the trial process including the interaction of the courtroom workgroup.
Question What were some of the differences in the Procedural and Substantive Law during the O.J. Simpson civil and criminal trial proceedings?
The ADVERSARY SYSTEM Adversarial system versus the Inquisitorial system. Two premises: To insure legal safeguards and to promote the presumption of innocence. The burden is on the prosecutor to prove guilt and the defense attorney to assert legal protections as well as arguing for the defendant’s innocence.* * Proof beyond a reasonable doubt (criminal) versus preponderance of the evidence (civil).
The Rights of the Accused Prevention and crime control versus protecting the individual liberties of the innocent. Due Process clauses of the Constitution limit arbitrariness of legislative and judicial authority (5 th and 14 th amendment). The Bill of Rights include individual protections within the context of criminal procedures. The Supreme Court is the final voice on the interpretation of the Bill of Rights and the specific requirements of due process. These interpretations tend to be revised over time.
Question What would be an example of how the Supreme Court has adjusted its stance on the interpretation of a particular due process right?
The Bill of Rights and Criminal Procedure: “Incorporation:” A legal doctrine in which the Supreme Court made provisions for all major protections to be extended to the states as well as the federal government (14 th amendment). Major Protections Affecting Criminal Procedure Include: 4 th Amendment: Unreasonable searches and seizures and the exclusionary rule. 5 th Amendment: Self-incrimination and double jeopardy. 6 th Amendment: Right to counsel and trial by jury. 8 th Amendment: Cruel and unusual punishment.
Civil Law Civil suits are brought by private parties, i.e., individuals, groups, businesses, and the government. Types of civil law include: tort, contracts, property, and domestic relations. The court renders remedy’s between the plaintiff and the defendant, i.e., declaratory, monetary, and injunctions. Victims of crime can seek civil litigation such as compensation, restitution, eviction, asset forfeiture, and premises liability. Criminal justice officials can face civil lawsuits concerning prison conditions, excessive force, inactions, discrimination, etc.
Criminal Law versus Civil Law Criminal Law Public Wrongs. Prosecuted by the State. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Right to counsel. Defendant has right to silence. Penalties or sanctions are based on seriousness of the offense, i.e., misdemeanors and felonies. Civil Law Private Matters. Private parties file suit. Preponderance of the evidence. Must hire own attorney. Defendant may be forced to testify. Penalties based on compensation or remedies.
Elements of Statutory or Substantive Criminal Laws A guilty act (actus reus) is committed (or attempted). Guilty intent (mens rea). The guilty act and guilty intent are related (fusion). Attendant circumstances (i.e., drug amount or amount of money stolen). Specific results (the end result of the crime determines the category of crime).
Question What are some of the criminal offenses where the “specific result” of the crime determine the actual offense charged? And, How does intent affect those criminal offenses where the “specific result” makes a difference?
Legal Defenses Some illegal acts ‘may’ have legal justification. They include: Medical conditions (seizures). Duress. Self-defense. Children (under age 7). Juvenile delinquents. Mental illness.
Question How does the law affect the following issues? Law Enforcement Courtroom workgroup Plea bargaining Sentencing