The Law is a collection of rules, created and enforced by governmental or social institutions, to regulate conduct and provide justice. The precise nature of law is subject to debate, but it can be seen as a system of governing that promotes the common good by means of public transparency and accountability, legal certainty, separation of powers, and participation in decision-making. The law is often divided into various branches that deal with different types of situations and issues. For example, contract law regulates agreements to exchange goods or services, while property law defines people’s rights and duties toward tangible possessions (such as land and buildings) and intangible property such as bank accounts and shares of stock. Tort law provides compensation for injuries caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another person, and criminal laws punish offenses against a nation or local community.
Law can also be viewed as a system of values that governs society and reflects societal norms. This perspective is often associated with liberalism and humanism. However, it is possible for a government to create laws that are contrary to fundamental values and principles of liberty. For example, a government may adopt laws to keep the peace and maintain social stability, but such laws could be considered unjust because they restrict freedom of speech and religion.
Some people see law as a set of rules imposed by a government, which citizens must obey or face punishment. This is often referred to as the rule of law or constitutional government. In the Bible, the term law often refers to a particular precept or commandment of Mosaic Law, particularly as recorded in Matthew, where Jesus emphasized the importance of following every “iota and dot” of the law (Matthew 5:18).
In modern times, laws can be seen as an attempt to balance competing priorities and interests. For example, laws may be used to preserve the peace, protect minorities against majorities, maintain social stability, and encourage economic growth. Law is also commonly regarded as an important tool for promoting democracy, civil rights, and environmental protection.
Legal terms used in courtrooms and other legal settings include:
evidence – Any information presented in support of an argument, including documents, photographs, testimony, or physical objects. The admissibility of evidence is determined by the judge at a trial.
jury – A group of people who decide the factual and legal issues in a case. The jury in a criminal trial is composed of 12 members, while the jury in a civil trial is made up of six members.
nolo contendere – A plea by an accused criminal not to admit guilt to a crime, but which does not affect the sentence.
prosecutor – The attorney who represents the government in a criminal case.
defense attorney – An attorney who defends a person or corporation in a civil or criminal case.
trial – A hearing where both sides present their cases to a judge.
In some countries, terrorism cases are handled in the same manner as non-terrorism crimes, and are heard by judges who hear other criminal cases. In other countries, terrorism cases are heard by specialized courts that focus on the unique issues involved in terrorist crimes.