US legal system

Currently criminal law in the United States involves the prosecution of wrongful acts by the state which are considered to be so serious that they are a breach of the sovereign’s peace (and cannot be deterred or remedied by mere lawsuits between private parties). Generally, crimes can result in incarceration, but torts cannot (Cecil 2007). The vast majority of the crimes committed in the United States are prosecuted and punished at the state level.

Federal criminal law focuses on areas specifically relevant to the federal government like evading payment of federal income tax, mail theft, or physical attacks on federal officials, as well as interstate crimes like drug trafficking and wire fraud (Cecil 2007). Discussion I tend to believe that think U. S laws and application of these laws are not equitable regarding business matters, in both criminal and civil applications, this is because that although all states have somewhat similar laws in regard to “higher crimes” (or felonies), such as murder and rape, penalties for these crimes may vary from state to state.

Capital punishment is permitted in some states but not others. Also; three strikes laws in certain states impose harsh penalties on repeat offenders (Cecil 2007). Some states distinguish between two levels: felonies and misdemeanors (minor crimes). Generally, most felony convictions result in lengthy prison sentences as well as subsequent probation, large fines, and orders to pay restitution directly to victims; while misdemeanors may lead to a year or less in jail and a substantial fine (Cecil 2007). To simplify the prosecution of traffic violations and other relatively minor crimes, some states have added a third level, infractions.

These may result in fines and sometimes the loss of one’s driver’s license, but no jail time (Cecil 2007). For public welfare offenses where the state is punishing merely risky (as opposed to injurious) behavior, there is significant diversity across the various states. For example, punishments for drunk driving varied greatly prior to 1990 (Cecil 2007). State laws dealing with drug crimes still vary widely, with some states treating possession of small amounts of drugs as a misdemeanor offense or as a medical issue and others categorizing the same offense as a serious felony (Cecil 2007).

The law of criminal procedure in the United States consists of a massive overlay of federal constitutional case law interwoven with the federal and state statutes that actually provide the foundation for the creation and operation of law enforcement agencies and prison systems as well as the proceedings in criminal trials (Cecil 2007). My argument is that U. S legal system is improving over time.

Due to the perennial inability of legislatures in the U. S. to enact statutes that would actually force law enforcement officers to respect the constitutional rights of criminal suspects and convicts, the federal judiciary gradually developed the exclusionary rule as a method to enforce such rights (Cecil 2007). In turn, the exclusionary rule spawned a family of judge-made remedies for the abuse of law enforcement powers, of which the most famous is the Miranda warning. The writ of habeas corpus is often used by suspects and convicts to challenge their detention, while the Civil Rights Act of 1871 is used by suspects to recover tort damages for police brutality (Cecil 2007).

The law of civil procedure governs process in all judicial proceedings involving lawsuits between private parties. Traditional common law pleading was replaced by code pleading in most states by the turn of the 20th century, and was subsequently replaced again in nearly all states by modern notice pleading (Cecil 2007). Most states have adopted rules of civil procedure closely modeled after the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (including rule numbers).

New York and California are the notable exceptions, although certain key portions of their civil procedure laws have been modified by their legislatures to bring them closer to federal civil procedure (Cecil 2007). American civil procedure has several notable features, including extensive pretrial discovery, heavy reliance on live testimony obtained at deposition or elicited in front of a jury, and aggressive pretrial “law and motion” practice designed to result in a pretrial disposition (that is, summary judgment) or a settlement (Cecil 2007).

Conclusion Although there have been attempts at “uniform” laws, efforts by various organizations to create “uniform” state laws have been only partially successful. The most successful and influential uniform laws are the Uniform Commercial Code and the Model Penal Code (Cecil 2007).


Cecil V, 2007. Criminal and Civil Laws in U. S. Harvard: University Press