U. S. Government: Democracy In Action

Chapter 15: Law in America

Chapter Overviews

The hallmark of our democratic society is that decisions and actions are made according to established laws rather than by arbitrary actions and decrees. Chapter 15 focuses on how civil and criminal laws work to protect citizens and to resolve conflicts in everyday life.

Section 1 explains the different kinds of law in the United States. In addition to constitutional law, the United States has statutory law, administrative law, common law, and equity. The section also lists the principles of the American justice system: equal justice under the law, due process of law, the adversary system of justice, and the presumption of innocence. Civil law concerns disputes between two or more individuals or between individuals and the government.

Section 2 discusses the four important branches of civil law that deal with contracts, property, family relations, and torts. Then it discusses how civil cases, or lawsuits, are resolved.

Section 3 defines crime as an act that breaks a criminal law and causes injury and harm to people or to society in general. It also classifies crimes as petty offenses, misdemeanors, or felonies and then explains the steps in a criminal case.

US Government: Democracy In Action
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