The law is primarily law developed and imposed by governmental or social institutions to control behavior, having its precise legal definition again a matter of long-standing debate. It is often alternatively defined as an art and science of civil law. Some philosophers define law as a human construct based on rational reflection on right and wrong. According to this view, law is a purely rational concept, which does not reflect any underlying moral or ethical principles. However, most other philosophers hold that law has both rational and non-re rational aspects.
In a further discussion, the term ‘law’ is used to refer to the set of rules or principles that govern conduct in the legal sphere. This includes legislation, norms, and duties just like any other set of rules. It is further divided into two main areas, ethical law and criminal law. The former deals with rules that affect individual liberty and moral right, while the latter deals with rules that affect the State and its authority, enforcing obedience to the law.
In addition to these differences, there are also significant temporal differences. In the United States, there are three major bodies of law: Federalism, Civil Law, and Common Law. Federalism refers to the separation of powers within the State. For instance, in the case of Congress, the branches of government are separated from one another so that each branch has the prerogative of acting in its own interest. Civil law, on the other hand, refers to disputes over private domains such as land, property, and business that are not covered by common law jurisdictions. Common law jurisdictions include cases such as those that deal with takings, property rights, corporate law, and criminal law.
For purposes of this article, we will be focusing on the last category of laws – criminal law. Criminal law encompasses crimes against the state, private citizens, or society in whole. It is one of the most important categories of law because crime can and does have a wide effect on society. When crimes are committed, the State is justified in using its police power to apprehend those responsible for the crime and bring them to justice. The criminal justice system is integral to the operation of our legal system. For this reason, it is important for students to have a clear understanding of what this category of law entails.
Within the realm of criminal justice, there are two basic classifications of wrongs: Misdemeanors and Felonies. Misdemeanors are less severe offenses and involve the violation of a law that is not itself a felony, but has a reputation for being regularly violated (e.g., a white-collar crime). Misdemeanors are commonly punished by reduced fines, probation, community service, or incarceration. For example, the offense of rape is not a felony, but the word “rape” is often used as an additional or definitive verb, implying the possibility of such a crime, and thus the punishment.
The second, and arguably the most important, category of criminal law is that between crimes against society and crimes which are morally wrong but do not meet the above distinctions. These fall under what is known as the gray area. Gray area includes a broad range of crimes and behaviors, including murder, theft, child molestation, sex crimes, domestic violence, graffiti, and driving under influence. Although the definition of the gray area varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, earning a doctoral degree in criminal justice is usually required if you want a career in the legal field after law school.