Main Types of Law

There are five main types of law in the criminal justice system. The first and most recognizable type is Criminal Law. Criminal law (Schmalleger 2007) is the body of rules and regulations that define and specify the nature of punishments for offenses. They can be of a public nature or can be a wrong committed against the state or society. In the times of a monarchy it was said that public order and the “kings peace” was disturbed when a crime was committed.

They not only offended the victim but the peaceful order established by the king. This is how it became the defendant Vs. the state. A criminal proceeding is actually brought forth by the State rather than the victim, and for obvious reason as sometime the victim can not speak for themselves. The punishment or fine is also carried out the state of which the crime occurred

Civil law or a “civil case” is brought forth by the usually the victim and not by the state. It is the area of law in common law countries governing relations between private individuals (Wikipedia 2007). Civil proceedings will normally seek monetary or property as compensation for damages. They can include a number or issues from divorce, child support, wills, contracts, and unfair hiring practices.

Anytime a civil law is violated it is possible to see a civil suit. A recent example can include the O.J. Simpson trial. While he was found innocent in a criminal trial, a jury found enough evidence to say that he had violated the civil rights of the victims and was ordered to pay millions of dollars. The Goldman-Simpson families were awarded compensatory damages to compensate for survivors for pain, suffering and lost quality of life (Schmalleger 2007). Some states also award punitive damages for mental anguish and shame.

Administrative law is the law that governs the activities of businesses, industry and individuals. It includes such items as tax laws, health codes, vehicle registration and building codes. Some cases can start as Administrative law and branch into civil and criminal, for example the case of Enron, where as it started as tax evasion and bookkeeping fraud but the fraud so prevalent that it turned in a criminal case and then a civil suit was brought forth by those that had suffered by their negligence.

Case law or precedent as it is commonly referred to as the accumulated wisdom of trial and appellate courts. Case law comes from all the other sections of law, criminal, civil and administrative. A court renders a verdict or a decision, that wisdom in now at the disposal of judges for future cases. An example of this is a stockbroker managed his family’s investments, carefully investigated companies before he purchased stock, and would generally hold the stock for long-term appreciation.

He treated dividends from the securities purchased as personal service income. The Tax Court found that the taxpayer was merely an investor managing his investments and not an active trader in securities engaging in a trade or business. They came to this conclusion via a previous case of Beals v Commr (Edaytrader tax

Procedural law is the rules that determine proceedings by which the legal rights are enforced. The procedures are in place to ensure the defendants rights are not violated during the procedure of the justice system. They balance suspect’s rights against the states interests (Schmallger 2007). An example of this law is obtaining a search warrant before searching a suspect’s residence. Procedures are essential to the justice system to ensure that the prosecution is not just trying to gain a conviction without following the proper steps. While the definition of procedural law may not be as lengthy as say criminal law, it’s absolutely a must in the criminal justice system.

The five main types of laws, while the names might have changed, have essentially been around for hundreds of years and serve as a basis for the criminal justice system in the United States.