The Role of Civil Society in the Legal System

Law is a legal system of codes developed and enforced by governmental or civic institutions to control behaviour, with its exact definition largely a matter of long-standing debate. It is commonly defined as the practice of civil law and a discipline that involves reasoning, especially politics, public law and ethical theories. In modern usage law is used to refer generally to any body of law established by a government and its regulation of behavior by citizens. Such laws may be framed and formulated by a government or other legal bodies and are subject to revision and change on an annual basis, though there are instances where a government may propose new laws and theraticipate their acceptance by the governed in a plebiscitary election. Within any political system, law is the general principle of social organization and regulation

Historically, law is an ancient institution founded on human rights and privileges. It is used to provide protection and to ensure compliance by citizens against the tyranny and injustice of rulers, landlords and others who seek to benefit from the law. For instance, the rule of law in the United States is found principally in the Constitution of the US, which grants most of its citizens’ legal rights and protections. In addition, the Bill of Rights and the Treaties of Colonizers protect and defend the rights of former American settlers. In recent years, many rights have been expanded by the courts including the Right to Vote, Freedom of Speech and other procedural rights. It is also the basis of many laws regulating healthcare, education, financial affairs, employment, taxation and even juvenile delinquency.

There are two general types of laws: civil law and criminal law. Civil law is based on family conflicts or disputes over property, humans and animals; while criminal laws deal with violations of state law. In most countries, the most common law is civil law, which is incorporated into domestic legislation by common law rulings. Common law, however, is not recognized internationally, except for certain specific regions such as in the US where it is incorporated into the US constitution. The exception is the Law of Contract, which recognizes certain exclusive laws associated with business transactions.

A number of differences exist between civil law and criminal law. Civil law deals mainly with disputes between individuals and organizations, while criminal law addresses only offenses that fall under the class of felonies. For instance, murder is a crime, but an act of killing done with malicious intent. Because the state does not have the authority to intervene in private disputes, such as those concerning family relationships, property disputes and so on, civil law is considered to be more flexible than criminal law.

Criminal law is divided into three branches: state criminal law, federal criminal law and appeals law. State criminal law usually refers to crimes that occur within the jurisdiction of the state, while federal criminal law pertains to crimes that occur outside the state. Federal criminal law also encompasses crimes committed against foreigners, double jeopardy laws and other statutes not covered under state law. On the broadest level, appeals law governs the procedure for trial before the U.S. Supreme Court. Most circuits that hear criminal cases end with a jury trial, although some do follow the option to judge the case without a jury.

Civil society is the component of the legal system that provides support to the victims of crimes through the legal system and advices the government on criminal justice issues. It includes both governmental and non-governmental organizations. Civil society has three major objectives: protecting the individual right to protect human rights, preserving the social order and disseminating information. The importance of civil society in the protection and promotion of human rights cannot be undersold. Every single human rights violation violates the universal principles of civilized behavior.

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