Law is a structured system of laws designed and enforced by governmental or communal institutions to govern behavior, with an exact definition somewhat subject to ongoing debate. It was historically variously defined as the art and science of civil law and a set of ethical codes governing conduct in private life. It also included laws that regulated corporate behaviour and government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The modern conception of law as it relates to today’s society is more a set of principles and abstract principles that are applied to specific situations with particular legal effects. In other words, the core of the law as it relates to today’s society is the rule of law.

In countries with entrenched constitutional monarchies, the formulation of law involves the active involvement of the legislature in establishing the parameters of the legal system, especially in areas of criminal jurisdiction. In jurisdictions without absolute monarchies, the process of law formation usually relies on the executive branch determining the major features of the existing law system and defining those elements which are required to be incorporated in the preexisting law system. As such, there are instances where the formulation of the law is more political than judicial in nature. The various types of legislative law include civil law, criminal law, and proprietary law.

Civil law includes common law and statutory law that governs conduct in ordinary civil matters such as contracts, trusts, property, and criminal matters such as felonies and duress. Statutory law is law that is codified and enacted by statutory act of Congress, either during special sessions called session or at the federal level at any time. Civil and criminal law are different as they deal with conduct that is governed by common laws such as contract law, which is largely controlled by the state and federal governments. A province is a local subdivision of a state or territory and is empowered by the jurisdiction and constitution of that province. Each province also elects several members to the provincial legislature, which determine the makeup of the legislature and control cabinet officials and appointments to the board of directors of boards and commissions.

Criminal law is generally dealt with by the courts with offenses ranging from minor to major offenses. Commonly, these include felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions such as theft, fraud, rape, murder, conspiracy, prostitution, and sodomy. Criminal laws are enforced by the municipal, county, and national enforcement agencies. Because of the diversity among governmental institutions, however, criminal laws are not always uniformly enforced across the states.

For instance, while states with a Republican majority in both houses of the state legislature are more likely to enforce the criminal law in order to protect their citizens, this is not true for states with a Democratic majority in both houses. Conversely, even within states with divided governorship, there are some regions with highly experienced prosecutors and judges that have a reputation for aggressively enforcing the law. It is not uncommon for prosecutors to seek the help of judges in convicting criminals. It is also not uncommon for the controlling authority in a criminal case to seek the help of the district attorney or other officials in enforcing the law.

Canon law, as applied by the courts, is not the same everywhere. Each jurisdiction has its own version of what crimes are defined as and what penalties there are for them. The nature of canon law varies from one court to another, and is dependent upon which authority defined the crime, and for which reason. Canon law is not the same everywhere and varies even among different jurisdictions within a state.

By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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