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- Civil Law Definition
- Common Law vs. Civil Law
- Civil Law vs. Criminal Law
Civil law is the most widely adopted legal system in the world. A legal system is a set of codes and procedures used to carry out laws. Civil law spread with the creation of the French Napoleonic Code of 1804and the German Civil Code of 1900. (The German Civil Code served as the legal foundation in countries like Japan and South Korea.) Most civil law systems are broken into four codes: the civil code, civil procedure code, criminal code, and criminal procedure code. These codes have been influenced by other bodies of law like canon law and merchant law. In general, civil law trials are "inquisitorial" rather than "adversarial." In an inquisitorial trial, judges play a large role, overseeing and shaping every part of the proceeding. Civil law is a rules-based system, meaning that judges do not refer to past rulings to guide their decisions. In the United States, civil law is not a legal system; rather, it is a way to group non-criminal cases. One of the biggest differences between c...
Historically, civil law predates common law, which makes the foundation of each system different. While civil law countries trace the origin of their codes back to Roman law, most common law countries trace their codes back to British case law. The common law system was developed using jurisprudence at its outset. Civil law focuses on the legal code and asks judges to act as fact finders, deciding whether a party violated that code. Common law focuses on jurisprudence, asking judges to interpret laws and respect decisions from previous and higher courts. Juries represent another key difference between the bodies of law. Countries that adopt a civil law system do not use juries to adjudicate cases. Countries that employ common law use lay-juries, groups of individuals without any specific experience, to determine guilt or innocence. The way a lawyer practicing in each system might approach a case helps highlight the difference between these bodies of law. A lawyer in a civil law syst...
In the U.S. legal system, there are two branches of law: civil and criminal. Criminal law covers behaviors that offend the general public and must be prosecuted by the state. The state might prosecute someone for battery, assault, murder, larceny, burglary, and possession of illegal narcotics. Civil law covers conflicts between two parties including individuals and businesses. Examples of cases covered under civil law include negligence, fraud, breach of contract, medical malpractice and marriage dissolution. If someone damages another person's property, the victim may sue the perpetrator in civil court for the cost of the damage. In general, civil offenses are less serious than criminal offenses. However, some incidents can be tried in both civil and criminal court. For example, theft could be a civil or criminal charge based on how much money was stolen, who it was stolen from, and in what way. A more serious version of a civil crime might be tried as a criminal offense. Although...Sells, William L., et al. “Intro to Civil Law Legal Systems: INPROL Consolidated Response.” Federal Judicial Center. www.fjc.gov/sites/default/files/2015/Introduction to Civil Law Legal Systems.pdf.Apple, James G, and Robert P Deyling. “A Primer on the Civil-Law System.” Federal Judicial Center. www.fjc.gov/sites/default/files/2012/CivilLaw.pdf.Engber, Daniel. “Is Louisiana under Napoleonic Law?” Slate Magazine, Slate, 12 Sept. 2005, slate.com/news-and-politics/2005/09/is-louisiana-under-napoleonic-law.html.
Noun.The body of laws that govern ordinary private matters, separate from laws presiding over criminal, military, or political matters.Noun. The body of law that governs private or civil rights, providing redress for wrongs by compensating the person or entity that has been wronged rather than punishing the wrongdoer.
- Definition of Civil Law
- What Is Civil Law
- Civil Law vs. Criminal Law
- Branches of Civil Law
- Civil Case Example
- Related Terms
Emperor Justinian I ruled ancient Rome from 527 A.D. to 565 A.D. One of his lasting legacies is his rewriting of Roman law in “Corpus Juris Civilis,” (“Body of Civil Law”) which still serves as a basis for modern civil law systems worldwide. In the United States, civil law has a couple of different meanings. In most parts of the U.S., civil law is synonymous with “common law,” or “judge-made law” which relies on prior court decisions to determine the outcome of cases. The governing principle is “Stare Decisis,” which means that the outcome of a lawsuit depends on the outcomes of previous similar cases.
Civil law and criminal law serve different purposes in the United States legal system. The primary purpose of civil law is to resolve disputes and provide compensation for someone injured by someone else’s acts or behavior. The primary purpose of criminal lawis to prevent undesirable behavior and punish those who commit an act deemed undesirable by society. In civil law, it is the injured person who brings the lawsuit. By contrast, in criminal law, it is the government that files charges. The injured person may file a complaint, but it is the government that decides whether criminal charges should be filed. A violation of criminal law is considered a crime against the state or federal government and is a violation of public law rather than private law. Civil law cases are concerned only with private law. In some instances, a person may be entitled to file a complaint, trusting the legal system to punish the wrongdoer with prosecution, while bringing a civil lawsuitto receive compens...
Civil law cases are divided into four main categories, each covering a range of issues. See below for the types of civil cases and corresponding civil law examples.
While the lawsuit against McDonald’s made national headlines, the facts of the case regarding negligence, defective product, and breach of implied warrantymake a fascinating civil case.Preponderance of Evidence– the standard of proof used in most civil trials; the jury is instructed to find for the party that has the stronger evidence, even if it is only marginally stronger than...Beyond a Reasonable Doubt– the standard of proof used in criminal trials; a reasonable person would believe that the defendant is guilty of the crime; a higher standard than is used in civil law.Common Law– the body of law that is based on judicial decisions.Stare Decisis– the doctrine that requires judges to use prior cases as precedent on which to decide current cases.
- Definition of Case Law
- What Is Case Law
- Case Law by Jurisdiction
- Case Law Search
- Dissecting Case Law Citations
- Case Law Example in Civil Lawsuit Against Child Services
- Related Legal Terms and Issues
Noun 1. The law as established in previous court rulings; like common law, which springs from judicial decisions and tradition. Origin 1860-1865 English common law
Statutory laws are those created by legislative bodies, such as Congress at both the federal and state levels. While this type of law strives to shape our society, providing rules and guidelines, it would be impossible for any legislative body to anticipate all situations and legal issues. The court system is then tasked with interpreting the law when it is unclear how it applies to any given situation, often rendering judgments based on the intent of lawmakers and the circumstances of the case at hand. Such decisions become a guide for future similar cases. In order to preserve a uniform enforcement of the laws, the legal system adheres to the doctrine of stare decisis, which is Latin for “stand by decided matters.” This means that a court will be bound to rule in accordance with a previously made ruling on the same type of case. Precedent, or case law, is binding on courts of the same level or lower, and applies only if there is no legislative statute created, or higher court ruli...
Case law is specific to the jurisdiction in which it was rendered. For instance, a ruling in a California appellate court would not usually be used in deciding a case in Oklahoma. While there is no prohibition against referring to case law from a state other than the state in which the case is being heard, it holds little sway. Still, if there is no precedent in the home state, relevant case law from another state may be considered by the court. Rulings made by federal appellate courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court, however, are binding on state courts. Such rulings become “binding precedent,” which must be adhered to by lower courts in future similar cases. Rulings by courts of “lateral jurisdiction” are not binding, but may be used as persuasive authority, which is to give substance to the party’s argument, or to guide the present court.
Just a few years ago, searching for case precedent was a difficult and time consuming task, requiring people to search through print copies of case law, or to pay for access to commercial online databases. Today, the internet has opened up a host of case law search possibilities, and many sources offer free access to case law. Doing a case law search may be as easy as entering specific keywords or citation into a search engine. There are, however, certain websites that facilitate case law searches, including: 1. Google Scholar – a vast database of state and federal case law, which is searchable by keyword, phrase, or citations. Google Scholaralso allows searchers to specify which level of court cases to search, from federal, to specific states. 2. Justia – a comprehensive resource for federal and state statutory laws, as well as case lawat both the federal and state levels. 3. Public Library of Law – offers access to cases from the U.S. Supreme court since 1754, the U.S. Circuit Cou...
Finding a relevant case law ruling, and inserting a reference to that case into a current legal pleading, is not enough to direct the court to the specific issue. In many instances, court rulings in the U.S. deal with multiple issues, and include drawn-out descriptions of how the court, especially an appellate or supreme court, came to its conclusion. Because of this, simply citing the case is more likely to annoy a judge than help the party’s case. Think of it as calling someone to tell them you’ve found their lost phone, then telling them you live in such-and-such neighborhood, without actually giving them an address. Driving around the neighborhood trying to find their phone is likely to be more frustrating than it’s worth. For legal professionals, there are specific rules regarding case citation, which vary depending on the court and jurisdiction hearing the case. Proper case law citation in a state court may not be appropriate, or even accepted, at the U.S. Supreme Court. Gener...
In 1996, the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services (“DCFS”) removed a 12-year old boy from his home to protect him from the horrible physical and sexual abuse he had suffered in his home, and to prevent him from abusing other children in the home. The boy was placed in an emergency foster home, and was later shifted around within the foster care system. The DCFS social worker in charge of the boy’s case had the boy made a ward of DCFS, and in her 6-month report to the court, the worker elaborated on the boy’s sexual abuse history, and stated that she planned to move him from a facility into a “more homelike setting.” The court approved her plan. In 1997, the boy was placed into the home of John and Jane Roe as a foster child. Although the couple had two young children of their own at home, the social worker did not tell them about the boy’s history of both being abused, and abusing other children. When she made her report to the court the following day, the worker reported th...Binding Precedent– A rule or principle established by a court, which other courts are obligated to follow.Lateral Jurisdiction– A court at the same level.Persuasive Authority– Prior court rulings that may be consulted in deciding a current case. It may be used to guide the court, but is not binding precedent.
Cases where a party is seeking a temporary restraining order or injunction to stop something (perhaps the destruction of property, the improper transfer of land, the solicitation of a business' customers) are examples. Landlord/tenant issues. Civil courts handle disputes arising between landlords and tenants.
In this case, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that statements public employees make as part of their official duties are not protected under the First Amendment; thus, it does not protect employees who make them from disciplinary actions. At issue was whether a prosecutor could
- Types of Cases in Civil Court
- Stages of A Civil Case
Court cases that involve disputes between people or businesses over money or some injury to personal rights are called “civil” cases. A civil case usually begins when one person or business (called the "plaintiff") claims to have been harmed by the actions of another person or business (called the "defendant"). The plaintiff starts a court case by filing a "complaint" (a document that outlines the plaintiff’s facts and legal theories and makes a request for relief). In the complaint, the plaintiff might: 1. Ask the court for "damages," meaning money to pay the plaintiff for any harm suffered 2. Ask for an "injunction," which is a court order to prevent the defendant from doing something or to require the defendant to do something 3. Ask for a "declaratory judgment," meaning a court order stating the parties' rights under a contract or statute Eventually, a judge or jury will determine the facts of the case (in other words, figure out what really happened) and then apply the appropri...
Civil courts handle a wide variety of cases. Very broadly, civil cases may involve such things as: 1. Tort claims.A "tort" is a wrongful act (sometimes called a "tortious" act) that causes injury to someone's person, property, reputation, or the like, for which the injured person is entitled to payment. Cases involving personal injury, battery, negligence, defamation, medical malpractice, fraud, and many others, are all examples. 2. Breach of contract claims.A breach of contract case usually results from a person's failure to perform some term of a contract, whether the contract is written or verbal, without some legitimate legal excuse. Examples include lawsuits for not completing a job, not paying in full or on time, failing to deliver goods sold or promised, and many others. 3. Equitable claims.An "equitable claim" usually asks the court to order a party to take some action or stop some action. It might be joined with a claim for money. Cases for a court order to stop the destruc...
In Clark County, a civil case might be filed in small claims court, one of the justice courts, or the district court, depending on how much money is at issue and other factors. Each court has its own rules that control how a case moves forward. To see a flowchart that shows a civil case’s path through justice court or district court, click one of these flowcharts or scroll to the bottom of this page: Flowchart - Civil Case in District Court Flowchart – Civil Case in Justice Court Most civil lawsuits can be divided broadly into these stages: 1. Pre-filing stage. During this stage, the dispute arises and the parties gather information, try to negotiate a resolution, and prepare for the possibility of a court case. To learn more, click to visit Pre-Filing Stage: Before You File A Case. 2. Pleading stage. In this stage, one party files papers (a "complaint") to start the court case, and the other party files some type of response (an "answer" or maybe a "motion"). To learn more, click t...
Mar 27, 2020 · Yagi Studio/Digital Vision/Getty Images Common examples of civil cases include child custody, child support, contract violations, personal injury, property damage and divorce. A civil case settles a personal or business conflict when an individual or group feels wronged by a defendant or cannot come to an agreement on an existing legal matter.
Oct 29, 2018 · Law Examples. Civil law examples Criminal law examples Custody disputes: Homicide: ...Civil law examplesCriminal law examplesCustody disputesHomicideBankruptcyConspiracyDefamationObstruction of justiceBreach of contractAssault
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