Chapter 1 You and the Law

I. Where do laws come from?

Morality– values an individual is raised with that is acceptable in society

Moral person– person who lives by the accepted values of society

Amoral person– person who does  not care at all about what is moral or immoral-has no moral belief

Ethics– values of right and wrong summarized from different moral values of the people. Laws are derived from the ethics

Laws– set of legal principles set forth by governmental (or a legislative body) that tells people what is acceptable behavior in society

How do we make ethical decisions?

Feelings and Opinions– what your gut feeling are at the time of making a decision

The Greatest Good– decisions made for the greatest good for the greater number of people

The Golden Rule– “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

II. Sources of US Law Today

Where do our current laws come from?

1. Common Law

  • “Roots of American Legal System”
  • In English Feudal times, there was no written law so case decisions were based in customs and tradition. Judges shared their decisions

2. Federal and State Constitutions

a) US Constitution(federal): broad basic foundation for the laws of the country

  • It describes the main structure and functions of our government
  • It set forth thr fundamental rights of its citizens

Part 1: Articles to the Constitution

  • Articles 1-3 Roles and responsibilities of the branches of government
    • Article I- Legislative Branch
    • Article II- Executive Branch
    • Article III- Judicial Branch
  • Articles 4-7
    • Article IV- Relations among states
    • Article V- The Amending Process
    • Article VI- Supremacy Clause
    • Article VII- Provided for ratification of US Constitutions

Part II: Bill of Rights: “Amendments 1-10”

  • In order to protect the fundamental rights of your citizens
  • Agreed upon with the signing of the Constitution
  • Today there are 26 Amendments to the US Constitution
    • #1 Freedom of Speech
    • #2 Right to bear arms
    • #3 Quartering Act
    • #4 Search and Seizure Act
    • #5 Rights of Persons
      • Put infront of grand jury before you can be tried
      • Can’t be tried twice
      • Can’t be a witness against yourself
      • Due process of the law
    • #6 Rights of Accused in Criminal Prosecutions
      • Due process and must be afforded a speedy and public trial
      • Jury must be impartial (can’t be influenced at all; not allowed to talk about it, watch news) Gets sequestered in a hotel where nobody can talk to you
      • Must know crime, read rights, be told what you have done
      • Right to be provided with legal council
    • #7 Civil Trials
      • Right to sue if the amount is $20 or more
    • #8 Further Guarentees in Criminal Case
      • excessive bail or fines is not required nor cruel or unusual punishment
    • #9 Unenumerated Rights
      • Constitution can’t conflict with your own rights
    • #10 Reserved Powers
      • Whatever isn’t spelled out here is up to the states with regards to the constitution
  • State Constitutions
    • Each state has its own constitutions that was written and agreed upon by the legislative branch of the state.
    • State Laws and Federal Laws can not conflict
      • State Tax Laws
      • Federal Tax Laws
      • State Criminal Jurisdictions
      • Federal Criminal Jurisdictions

III. Statutory Law

  • Laws passed by the governing body
  • Federal Legislative Branch
    • US Congress
      • US Senate
      • US House of Representatives
  • State Legislative Branch
  • Local City Councils- Town Meetings
  • These laws passed are called statutes

IV. Court Decisions

  • Court-made law or Case Law
  • Courts take part in creating or modification of laws in three ways
    1. High court decisions of any state becomes the law of the state. This takes place on the federal and state level.
    2. Courts interpret incomplete, confusing, or unclear laws and will change or modify them to meet the needs of the case.
    3. Courts can decide if laws or government activities are in line with the constitution. If not, the court can declare the law or activity unconstitutional.

V. Administrative Law

  • Administrative Agencies (Regulatory Agency)
    • The power to regulate laws in the interest of the public. They can:
      • Make their own rules
      • Enforce their own rules
      • Investigate violations of rules
      • Decide guilt or innocence

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