Legal Issues Chapter 1 Pages 2 to 58
Legal Rights and responsibilities Knowledge of everyday legal problems/issues Analyze, evaluate, maybe learn how to solve legal disputes Topics of interest
What types of legal issues will we address? • Criminal • Juvenile • Torts (civil, breach of obligation, causing harm to someone, etc…) • Consumer • Family • Housing • Individual rights and liberties
Many definitions exist. Jurisprudence- the study of law and legal philosophy What is law?
Law is • Rules and regulations made and enforced by government that regulate the conduct of people within a society.
Our legal system addresses • The protection of human rights • The promotion of fairness • The resolution of conflicts • The promotion of order and stability • The protection of the environment • The representation of the will of the majority • The protection of the rights of minorities
Values Involved in Laws • Moral: relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior • Economic: of, relating to, or based on the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services • Political: of, relating to, or concerned with the making as distinguished from the administration of governmental policy • Social: of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society
Problem 3. Page 7. For each of the following laws indicate whether moral, economic, political or social values are involved. Explain • All drivers must stop at stop signs . • It is a crime to cheat on your tax return . • All citizens may vote at age 18. • Special government programs lend money to minority owned businesses at low interest rates. • Government officials may not accept gifts from people who want them to pass certain laws.
Criminal Civil (and criminal) Kinds of Laws
Criminal law • Involves a citizen or a business and the state. The rules of the federal government and all individual state governments are codified into statutes. • When an individual violates the rules, as listed in the statutes, then the federal government or the state will prosecute the individual.
Criminal Law Divides into 2 categories Felonies: Crimes punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year Misdemeanors: Less serious than felonies, punished by a prison sentence less than one year.
Civil Law • Civil law suits are private suits between two or more citizens. • Civil law is the area of law by which private individuals resolve their differences with the help of the civil courts.
Civil Laws • Regulates relations between individuals and groups of individuals. • A civil action (lawsuit) can be brought by a person who feels wronged or injured by another person. What can one get out of a civil action?
Civil laws regulate… • Marriage • Divorce • Contracts • Real Estate • Insurance • Consumer protection • Negligence
Remedies of the Court • The remedies available in civil courts are generally limited to money damages. • The remedies in criminal court may involve a money fine and/or a prison sentence
Can a crime violate both civil and criminal law? • YES! If Shannon attacks Katla, Shannon may have to pay Katla’s medical bills (civil) and may be charged with assault (criminal).
Why? • The different court systems have different burdens of proof. • To be found guilty in a criminal proceeding, the state must show beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime charged. • Beyond a reasonable doubt requires a showing of guilt close to 100%.
Why? • In a civil case the plaintiff must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is responsible for any damages. • Numerically, a preponderance of the evidence is a showing of a 51% certainty that the defendant is responsible.
The Constitution • Law of the land • Supercedes all other laws
Separation of Powers • Executive (President & Federal Agencies) • Legislative (Congress) • Judicial (the courts) • Each branch is independent, but has the power to restrain other branches in a system of checks and balances.
Is a lawmaker when it issues rules and executive orders, which often have the force of law. May veto a law passed by Congress Ex: In 2004 President Bush created an executive order to strengthen the sharing of information on terrorism. Executive Branch
Legislative Branch • Uses lawmaking power when it issues laws (also called statues).
Judicial Branch • Establishes laws through its rulings, which may interpret a provision of the Constitution, a statute, or a rule issued by an executive agency.
Judicial Review • Enables a court to void any law passed by Congress or any state legislature that conflicts with the Constitutional. • Ex: If Congress passed a law forbidding the media to criticize public officials, a court challenge would find the law unconstitutional.
Limited Government • Integral part of the Constitution • Reflects that the federal government should be limited by the power of the states • The division of power making between the states and federal government is know as federalism.
Bill of Rights • A principle of limited government • Defines and guarantees the fundamental rights of liberties to all Americans, including freedoms of religions, speech, and the press; the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizure,; and other rights • The Bill of Rights also limits the powers of the state and federal government
Legislatures • At both the state and federal level, legislatures are the primary law-making bodies.
Federal Legislature- U.S. Congress Comprised of 2 houses… Senate (2 members from each state) House of Representatives (according to population of state)
U.S. Congress continued • Passes laws (federal statutes) that are binding on the citizens of every state • Federal statutes deal with environmental quality public health national defense civil rights labor relations econ. development veterans’ affairs postal services federal taxes
State legislatures • State statutes deal with education state taxes traffic marriage and divorce powers/duties of state officials
Supremacy Clause • Makes the Constitution the supreme law of the land • Holds federal law above state laws unless otherwise noted in the Constitution
Bills • Used by legislatures and other lawmaking bodies to enact new laws or amend/repeal old laws. • Even after a bill becomes a law it may be opened for interpretation. • Legislative intent is when a judge must determine what the legislature intended for the law.
What does drafting a bill mean? • To write the actual language of the bill. • Intention is the make clear, easy to understand laws that are not too vague. Example of a poorly drafted law: “It shall be illegal to gather on a street corner without a good reason.”
Voting • Initiatives are when voters propose laws and then submit them to their legislatures. • Referendums occur when a legislative act is referred to voters for final approval or rejection.
The following are proposals made in order to encourage people to vote. Do you favor or oppose each proposal? Why or why not?
Levying a $20 fine on a person who is eligible to vote but does not do so and has no good excuse
Allowing students over the age of 14 to vote for and serve on the school board that governs the school
Allowing people to vote not just for representatives but directly for or against issues on the ballot that they care about
Prohibiting media from reporting poll results or projections until all polls are closed