What Is Law?

Law is a system of rules that governs the way people behave in society. It shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways.

In a nation, laws can help keep the peace, maintain the status quo, protect individual rights, protect minorities against majorities, promote social justice and provide orderly social change. However, some legal systems serve these purposes better than others.

A government makes laws, or rules, that citizens must follow or face punishment for breaking them. For example, if you are caught stealing you may be fined or put in jail.

Examples of laws include the law against murder, which is not allowed in most places.

Property law defines what people can and cannot do with their possessions, including land, cars and homes.

Contract law regulates the agreements between people that exchange goods, services and other things of value.

Criminal law deals with crimes against people and their property, and it is primarily about felonies (the most serious crimes).

Procedure in court involves the rules that courts must follow during a trial or appeals.

Evidence in court is the information presented by witnesses and documents that is used to persuade the judge or jury to decide a case for one side or another.

Precedent – A decision in an earlier case with similar facts and law that the judge uses as a basis for ruling on this current case.

The word law comes from the Latin lege meaning “law” or “order” and nomos, which means “command.” In both the Old and New Testaments, the word is often linked to commands and regulations from God.