Law is an institutionalized system of laws developed and enforced by governmental or social institutions to govern behavior, with the precise definition having been a matter of long standing debate. It’s been variously defined as the science of civil law and the discipline of justice. However, most commonly, lawyers refer to it as the study of laws. The area of law is enormous and there are many different areas and fields within it.
Within the United States, the major areas of law are criminal law, civil law, common law, family law, labor law, immigration, civil procedure, probate, family law, corporate law, real estate law and administrative law. Within these areas, there are numerous sub-specialties: criminal law, civil law, common law, family law, labor law, corporate law, real estate law and administrative law. Because of the diversity of the legal systems and of the issues that fall under each of those branches, jurisdictions tend to have their own unique system.
One way to categorize the many differences between jurisdictions is to take note of the differences in the types of law that they have established. In instances where the jurisdictions do not share a common law system, jurisdictions tend to differ on what types of legal instruments they use. Many times there is an effort to harmonize or even compromises between various jurisdictions to avoid conflict. When a common law jurisdiction uses a hybrid model, it attempts to overcome the problems inherent in certain hybrid models by using some common law instruments and modifying others. For instance, in most common law jurisdictions, there are some differences in the authority of corporations and of bodies created by common law.
Criminal Law is the body of law that criminalizes behavior. It is the body of law upon which the prosecution of behavior is founded. Statutes concerning criminal behavior are called “laws” for a reason: these are things like crimes and misdemeanors. Statutes are court orders established by the legislature, and there are usually jury trials as well.
Civil Law is the body of law that govern the relationship between individuals and entities – like corporations, counties, governments, and individuals – and things like property, trusts, and wills. Civil law is different from criminal law in that it does not require the state to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; the state only needs to establish the facts. Unlike criminal law, the state is allowed to be involved in things like estate taxes, welfare and healthcare, as well as issues of succession and corporate finances. However, the relationship between civil law and other branches of the common law like admiralty, probate, and maritime is complicated, and civil law courts can only hear cases within their jurisdiction.
Tort Law is the body of law that authorizes the remedies available to victims of wrongdoings. Common law has been strongly influenced by what the courts found was moral, ethical or immoral. The country has been very dependent on tort law for years, and the country has even gone so far as to pass laws authorizing compensation to victims of personal wrongs.
Property Law is the body of law that governs the ownership and transfer of property, including but not limited to personal property. Commonly known as torts (which is derived from the Latin trinctis, meaning “of rights”), this branch of civil law is closely related to torts concerning criminal law. While the two branches do not share many similarities, both are highly important to the functioning of society, and there are many common characteristics of both property law and personal property law that make them closely related.
Civil Procedure is the body of law that permits parties to resolve legal disputes through the courts. Many times, this includes disagreements over issues such as divorce, child custody, and property ownership, though other types of disagreements may also be resolved through the courts. For instance, a person may bring a legal action against another person, claiming they have been abused; if the party cannot come to a settlement between themselves, they can file a civil suit in which case the courts will mediate the dispute. Civil Procedure is the branch of the legal system that hears claims regarding wrongful deaths, defective products, and other negligence claims. This is often the source of litigation that arises from criminal actions.