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the study of law and legal philosophy

criminal laws

laws dealing with crimes and their punishments


a serious criminal offense punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year


criminal offense, less serious than a felony, punishable by one year or less in prison

civil law

law that doesn't involve criminal matters. also known as tort law. Usually deals with rights of individual groups and businesses

civil action

a noncriminal lawsuit, brought to enforce a right or redress wrong


the person against whom a claim is made.


in a civil case, the injured party who brings legal action against the alleged wrongdoer


the state or federal government's attorney in a criminal case

beyond a reasonable doubt

the level of proof required to convict a person of a crime.

preponderance of the evidence

standard of proof used in a civil suit; the amount of proof that a party must have to win a case.

limited government

basic principle of our legal system, limits government to powers provided by people

separation of powers

the division of powers among the branches of our government


written laws enacted by legislatures

checks and balances

the power of each of the branches of the government to limit the power of each other

judicial review

the process by which courts decide if laws are constitutional


the division of power between the states and federal government

bill of rights

the first ten amendments the the constitution, they guarantee basic rights to citizens

supremacy clause

states that U.S. laws and treaties must be followed, even if even if state and local laws disagree


a draft of a considered law

legislative intent

what the lawmakers wanted the law to mean

public hearings

proceedings that are open to the public


a court proceeding


taking a case to a higher court for a rehearing

appellate courts

appeals court


court decision on a legal question that guides future cases with similar questions


a pact between nations


the process of discussing an issue to reach a agreement


mutual agreement between two sides in a civil case, it settles or ends the dispute


a way of ending a dispute without going to trial


act of settling a dispute between two parties


the people directly concerned with or taking part in any legal matter

adversarial system

judicial system used in the U.S. It allows parties to present evidence to an impartial group or judge

inquisitional system

European form of judicial system where judges help gather evidence and question witnesses

voir dire

latin phrase. lawyers can question jurors to see if they will be impartial

removal for cause

part of jury selection process. after voir dire. it is the process when lawyers can change jurors if they think that they aren't impartial

peremptory challenges

lawyers can remove some jurors without cause

error of law

a mistake made by a judge in legal procedures or rulings during a trial that can allow the case to be appealed

dissenting opinion

in a trial, written opinion of the minority of judges who disagree with the majority

inherent powers

powers that congress is believed to have according to the constitution

delegated power

powers granted to congress in the constitution, also called enumerated or expressed powers

petitions for certiorari

formal application by a party to have a decision by a lower court reviewed by a supreme court

due process of law

the idea that everyone is entitled to a fair trial


a down payment to a lawyer to hire them

contingency fee

fee paid to an attorney, a percent of the money awarded to the client


taking away a lawyer's license due to illegal practices

legal malpractice

lawsuit against a lawyer because they didn't follow standards for trials


imprisonment by the state

community policing

when the community works works with the police to lower the crime rate.

implied consent

unwritten agreement to submit forms to interrogation or questioning


a repeat criminal offender


restoring something to its owner

state of mind

what you are thinking


the reason a person commits a crime

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