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  1. All About Law for Kids: business law, civil law, and more!

All About Law for Kids: business law, civil law, and more!

Jonathan Feniak, Esq., MBA

By Jonathan Feniak, Esq., MBA

    "The law" refers to a set of rules that the government makes to guide people's behavior. The police enforce the law, and courts make sure that people who break the law are punished. Laws are made by government leaders or by elected lawmakers. The ideas for laws are often derived from the cultural practices, values, and beliefs of the people.

    Types of Law

    • Property law dictates the rights and responsibilities individuals have when buying, selling or renting real estate or anything else that a person can own. It also includes intellectual property law, which protects the creations of the mind, such as art and music, through means like copyrights and patents.
    • Criminal law is the type of law that protects people from the harmful actions of other people. Things like murder, theft, arson, and assault fall under criminal law.
    • Civil law is the area of law that deals with disputes between people that don't involve crimes, like divorces and contract disputes.
    • Common law relies on decisions that court judges have made in past court cases, and it's the main form of law in the U.S.
    • Business law regulates how businesses are formed and how they are run.
    • Constitutional law focuses on interpreting the Constitution and defining the powers and boundaries of government branches.

    History of Law

    Legal systems trace back to ancient civilizations. One of the earliest legal codes is the Code of Hammurabi, created by King Hammurabi of Babylon in 1760 B.C.E. Laws can also come from religious texts, like the Torah. The Torah was written around 1280 B.C.E., and it includes rules like the Ten Commandments that tell people what not to do. Over the centuries, people have built on the ideas in these secular and religious codes and the ones that followed to create their own systems of law.

    The Judiciary

    The judiciary is the part of the government responsible for resolving disputes, interpreting laws, and upholding justice through the court system. Courts rely on the laws themselves and precedents set in previous cases to guide their decision-making, ensuring consistency and predictability in legal outcomes. Judges will most commonly decide how a court case ends, but sometimes, juries will make that decision based on the evidence presented to them. There's also typically a system of appeals, which lets you request that your case be reconsidered if you think the court didn't act properly. Courts also have the responsibility and power to remove unconstitutional laws.

    Executive and Head of State

    The executive branch of the government is the center of authority, and that authority is wielded by the country's leader. In a democratic country, that leader will be elected, either by the people or by lawmakers the people elected. The chief executive of a country suggests new laws and works with other nation's leaders on international agreements. In most countries, they also control the military.

    In some countries, like the United States, the chief executive is also the head of state. The head of state is the symbolic leader of a country and the person who hosts visits by foreign leaders. The American head of state and chief executive is the president. In other countries, the head of state is a different person from the chief executive. For example, the head of state in the United Kingdom is the king, but the chief executive is the prime minister.

    Other Parts of the Legal System

    • The police enforce laws, ensuring public safety and upholding order by conducting investigations and making arrests.
    • Bureaucrats are organizations and people who work for the government, either in the legal system or in other parts of the government.
    • Lawyers are also part of the legal system, and they provide legal advice and representation, helping people to use and protect their legal rights.
    • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) advocate for human rights, social justice, and legal reform. These organizations also promote civic engagement and accountability by holding governments, businesses, and institutions accountable for their actions.