Civil law is an area of law concerned with the rights of individuals, corporations, and the government. An individual may be the victim of a criminal act by another person or business, for example. Civil law covers lawsuits for injuries, wrongful death, property damages, or personal injury claims.
Civil law provides a framework for contract law. If you are getting married, for example, your civil rights are protected under civil law as long as both parties consent to the marriage. Certain circumstances can make a valid marriage invalid, but the statute of limitations and other legal requirements can apply in determining validity. The tort law system also protects your civil rights.
The Civil Law is created on Social Law, which was written centuries ago when European settlers arrived in North America. The idea was that the property of Native Americans should be preserved. However, the natives would also be granted certain rights and privileges, and the whole concept became muddled. The changes were completed during the American Revolution when the colonies established their governments.
In many ways, the concept of the social contract is still used today. As long as society can create common good and maintain it, the general will is held responsible for a free society. A society that allows those in power to exploit the common good and deprive the community of its fundamental rights will eventually collapse.
After Sept. 11, the United States was confronted with one of its most pressing issues, civil rights. Among the newly formed American states, Louisiana passed a law that explicitly stated, "All citizens of the state are equal before the law." The bill was held up by more conservative Christians who worried that the political correctness of the law might allow "terrorism" to take hold in the United States.
As the matter was brought to the forefront of the public's attention, Sept. 11 occurred. Several civil rights leaders were martyred in the attacks, and the law was changed so that the phrase "all citizens of the state are equal before the law" was stricken from the law. It seems like a hollow victory, but the purpose was to provide basic rights to all citizens of the state.
Civil law is not the same as "general law." The general rule is simply another name for the statutes of the states. The statutes are the things that govern our day-to-day lives.
The laws of civil law are an inclusive term that is sometimes used to describe legal processes such as the right to be represented in court, to have the right to a jury trial, to have the right to appeal from a jury verdict, and more. Those that have extensive knowledge of the law to know that the rights in civil law cover only the government and the law enforcement officials. Not even private citizens can initiate a lawsuit against another individual or entity. Any violation of the civil law is deemed to be a criminal offense.
The first fundamental human rights that were granted to people were those regarding the property. Since then, there have been many more, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and many others. Each time new civil rights are granted, the old rights are augmented. For example, the first free-speech rights were granted to slaves in the American South.
There are two basic types of civil law: federal and state. Federal Legislation was found under the U.S. Constitution. Many state laws come under the state constitution, and state law codes govern them.
State law attorneys are at a disadvantage when trying to defend a civil case in a state where there is no state attorney general. For these reasons, most countries use a specialized lawyer to handle civil cases.
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