The Basics of Law


The law is a set of social or governmental rules that a society or community develops and enforces to regulate the behavior of its members. It is a complex subject that spans many disciplines, including history, philosophy, politics and economic analysis. It also raises important questions about justice and equality. The primary functions of the law are establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties. Law influences politics, economics and history in various ways, and shapes societies and cultures in different ways as well.

Law covers a wide range of subjects, though most fall into three broad categories for convenience: criminal law, civil law and administrative law. Criminal law deals with punishment for acts that are considered harmful to society or against the state, such as terrorism or murder. Civil law, which is based on concepts and categories derived from Roman law and largely supplemented or modified by local custom or culture, is found on all continents except Antarctica. Civil laws are usually consolidated into codes, often with a clear structure that promotes cooperation and predictability.

The administration of the law focuses on regulating businesses, services and utilities to ensure that they are provided efficiently and safely for all citizens. This includes the drafting of legislation, which is often the result of studies and hearings that can cover periods of years by congressional committees or commissions. This legislation is then voted on by the full House or Senate, and if passed becomes a statute.

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