Understanding Law In The United States

When it comes to understanding the rule of law in the United States, there are many different considerations that need to be taken into account before a clear picture can form. Trying to understand law in the States is one of those things. After all, there are so many different types of law and varieties of law that it can be almost impossible to keep them straight at times.

Criminal Law
Criminal law in the United States can be split up in a very general way as felony law and misdemeanor law. This is an oversimplification in some ways as there are a variety of different levels of felony, just as there are a variety of different levels of misdemeanor. Because different crimes have a different level of severity, it’s important to understand that these different levels are why a small money burglary has a much different set of punishments than a violent assault or murder.

 

Felonies are serious crimes that almost certainly will result in prison time. This can range from any stealing above petty theft to nearly all violent crimes. In addition to this murder, arson, and sexual assaults all fall under various forms of felony.

Then there are misdemeanors which are a much lesser type of crime than felonies. While these can still be very serious, it depends on the level of crime and many will be mere fines or short amounts of jail time as opposed to long term prison. Once again it depends on the level of misdemeanor that was committed.

Misdemeanor assault, for example, is still considered a form of assault and will be one of the harshest misdemeanors and can result in limited jail or prison time depending on the state and whether it’s a first time offense or a much more serious one.

On the other hand technically things like DUI or petty theft are often considered misdemeanors. These sometimes may demand a few days of jail time and almost always include a fine of some type but they will not result in prison time.

Misdemeanors are often graded on a letter grade like a Class A Misdemeanor or a Class C Misdemeanor, etc. The end result often depends on a variety of issues including the crime, the evidence, and the past record of the defendant.

Civil American Law
Civil law refers to lawsuits and civil court is where these issues are played out. Lawsuits can come for a variety of reasons including negligence, actions that result in financial or physical harm but aren’t a crime. Jail time isn’t in the cards when it comes to civil law and this is mostly about monetary means.

Juvenile American Law
When it comes to laws in the United States, it’s also important to note that there is a major different between juvenile law and adult law. While juvenile law is for minors, there are some differences from state to state. The general federal standard is that individuals being tried who are under the age of 18 are considered minors and therefore will most often be tried in juvenile court where rehabilitation in juvenile facilities will most often be picked over jail or prison.

However depending on the seriousness of the crime and if the individual is 14 or 16 (depending on the state) they might be tried as an adult.

American Law, In Conclusion
When it comes to American law, the fact that states have so much autonomy makes a big difference when it comes to what the penalties are going to be for individuals who are on trial. Knowing American law means knowing these amazing differences.

All About the Law in Canada

If you’re interested about the law in Canada, you should know that the country’s legal system is founded on the England’s common law system with some traces of influence from Scots Law. This really isn’t surprising considering that the country was former colony of the UK and later became a Commonwealth of Nations member.

In general, the law bi-jurisdictional, which means that enforcing public law, including criminal law, is exercised by the Parliament while private law is enforced by the provinces.

Both the public and civil legal systems are subject to Canada’s constitution. Criminal cases are tried in the tradition of British common law, mainly because it falls within the jurisdiction of the federal government. The federal government also retains jurisdiction over some exclusive domains that are controlled exclusively by Parliament. It also retains jurisdiction on disputes between provinces. These include disputes that may arise from inter-provincial transportation systems, and inter-provincial and commerce trade.

Like any other country in the world, Canada’s supreme law is its constitution and any law that’s inconsistent with it is invalid.
Under the 1867 Constitution Act, the federal government has holds jurisdiction over banking, trade and commerce, and immigration, aside from criminal law. It also holds power to make the necessary laws to make Canada a peaceful and orderly country with good government.

On the other hand, the provinces have jurisdiction over property and civil rights, hospitals, municipal governments, and education with the exception of education on First Nation reserves.

The constitution also gives power to the provinces to establish each of their own superior courts, however, it’s the federal government that appoints their judges. The federal parliament, on the other hand, has the power to establish a court system that’s responsible for federal law, as well as a general appeals court to hear the appeals of decisions made in both the federal and provincial courts.

This power to create a court system resulted in the federal government’s creation of the Canadian Supreme Court.

The Canadian constitution was revised in The 1982 Constitution Act. The revised constitution provide a mechanism through which Canada’s constitution could be changed by the joint action of federal government and the provincial governments. Before that time, it could only be amended by the UK.
The 1982 Constitution also created the basic charter of human rights called the Rights and Freedoms Charter, which grants all Canadian citizens their individual rights, and these rights which cannot be contravened by any law passed by provincial or federal government.

While the basic laws of the land are outlined in the constitution, it’s Canadian parliament and the provincial legislatures that country’s primary sources of laws. The laws that are passed by the federal government are first announced in in the Canada Gazette, a newspaper regularly published for new regulations and statutes.

Every now and then, the federal government consolidates its current laws into one single law, under what is known as Revised Statutes of Canada. The most recent consolidation of federal laws was in 1985.

Laws passed that are passed by the provinces follow the same practice. The provincial laws are announced in a province’s gazette, which is published annually. The laws are also consolidated every now and then. With the exception of Quebec, all of Canada’s provinces and territories follow the same common law legal tradition.

When it comes to the judicial system, the lower courts are required to follow the decisions of the higher courts. For example, all lower courts in Ontario are bound to the decisions of Ontario’s Court of Appeal and, all lower courts in British Columbia are bound to the decisions of British Columbia’s Court of Appeal.

Personal Injury Law in Canada vs. the United States

There are situations that arise where we may find ourselves asking the question of what the differences in law between countries like Canada and the United States are. As we are neighboring countries, there certainly are situations where we may find ourselves in a personal injury case in the country which is not our own. We will look at the differences and similarities below listed by Medler Law Firm.

The good news is that the differences between these two countries are not so much as to be unrecognizable. One area that you will notice an immediate difference in is the way that attorneys go about preparing to take a case to the court room.

medler law firm

In America a court case is often centered around the 12 jurors that have been selected. While it is true that certain areas of law need to be meet, much of it is about getting the jurors to side one way or the other. The attorney for the plaintiff will prepare to prove that circumstances have been met to find the defendant liable for damages. Then, the lawyer will try to show the jurors how productive and good the plaintiff has been and how the injury will affect the remainder of their life.

From this effort, the lawyer tries to convince the jurors not just to find in favor of the plaintiff, but to do so with a big settlement.

The defending attorney will try to convince the juror and the court that the defendant is not guilty and is not liable. If they are found to be liable then the defending attorney will try to argue a case that minimizes financial award from the court.

In these cases, there are the direct suffering and cost of the injury itself, as well as damages that stem from emotional distress, loss of income, and others that are considered when determining the total settlement.

In the U.S. considerable effort is made by both sides to settle outside the courtroom. For the defendant, there is always the issue that a jury can get emotionally connected to what happened and award massive payouts. For the plaintiff, it is often difficult to wait for months or even years to finally get a settlement that is paid on. For this reason, they too, often seek to settle.

For the attorneys involved, settlements often keep both in good standings with their clients as it often saves the defendant money and the plaintiff time.

In Canada, the process of a courtroom battle is considerably different. The Canadian attorney prepares a wide range of briefs that serves to make their case. Whereas in the U.S. the use of expert testimony is used by both sides of the case. This is not done in Canada. So the use of dramatics and theatrics is considerably less in Canada.

In both the U.S. and Canada it is necessary to prove that someone is at fault and to a degree that warrants them liable. But how liable is determined is different between the two countries. When a defective product is involved for instance, Canada uses a stated standard of negligence which it uses the gauge the degree of liable for a defective product.

In the U.S., if a manufacturer has been found to have a defective product, then it means in general terms that they are fully liable for any injury occurring from the products defects. In this case, once it has been determined that a U.S. company has a defective product that caused an injury, that company is then held responsible for payment of all related cost. This includes medical, loss of wages, pain and suffering, loss of health and future enjoyment of life and so on.

In Canada, this is assessed under the standards set forth by law and is therefore not an automatic complete charge of liability for all matters of cost. Interestingly this would be seen outrageous to most Americans and yet is viewed as quite reasonable to most Canadians.

In most situations, a plaintiff that wins their case will be rewarded a much larger settlement in the U.S. than is likely to occur in Canada. But there is one area that Canada is more favorable. In American law, there are no provisions that allow plaintiffs to recover their cost related to their case.

The expense of getting all the necessary medical records, or the fact that experts that are called to testify do so because they are paid to do so, are all examples of cost that a plaintiff is obligated to pay and is not able to recover payment for, as part of the settlement. In Canadian law however, these expenses are recoverable.

There are other differences in these two countries and how attorneys conduct themselves. In the U.S. there has been a rise in those that graduate law school and pass the bar exam in their state. This has led to lawyers competing for your business. To most individuals in the U.S., and many in Canada, the idea of peddling services to those who have legitimate injuries received from the negligence of others, is repulsive.

But due to such large increases in U.S. attorneys, it has become the case. For a very long time, American lawyers have been actively advertising their office and services. Canada did not allow this until recent years. But beginning in the early 2000’s advertising became somewhat acceptable and was at least allowed by law.

From that time many personal injury lawyers in Canada have begun following suit with the Americans and advertising their services. While it is still done considerably more aggressive in the U.S., Canada is quickly picking up speed. Some Canadians fear that it will not be long before personal injury lawyers are every bit as aggressive with advertising their services as the Americans are.

The question now being asked in both countries is if advertising is good for the legal profession. But even more important is the question of whether it is good for the clients.

Certainly this is a question that will continue to be debated as long as there are attorneys and plaintiffs that need their help.