Law is a set of rules that are enforceable by social institutions. It shapes society, politics, economics and history. The practice of law is generally overseen by government.
There are three main categories of laws: civil, criminal and regulatory. Each is different in its legal structure and methods.
Common legal issues include debt, immigration, housing, and rights to money and property. Each case begins with a complaint. The plaintiff claims that the defendant has broken the law by committing a crime.
The complaint is usually accompanied by evidence. This can be documents, witness testimony, photographs or physical exhibits. It is used by the court to determine whether or not the defendant is guilty.
If the court finds that the defendant is guilty, he will be charged with a felony. Those charged with felonies are usually sent to jail for at least a year.
A defendant may appeal to the appellate courts. This is typically done if the defendant feels that the court did not handle the issue properly. Appeals can also be made if the defendant disagrees with the interpretation of the law.
Precedent is a previous court decision that is applied to a similar case. A plaintiff can challenge a precedent, or it can be a decision by a higher court that is binding on lower courts.
Depending on the jurisdiction, cases may be heard in federal and state courts. Some issues, such as family and consumer law, are decided in each of the two branches of government.