Purposes of laws

 

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Jurisprudence

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The philosophy of law. The science and study of the law.

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What is law?

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A body of rules of conduct. Prescribed by a legitimate authority. Form of statute. Mandates certain forms of behaviors.

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What do laws do?

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Maintain order in society. Regulate human interaction. Enforce moral beliefs. Define the economic environment. Enhance predictability. Support the powerful. Promote orderly social change. Sustain individual rights. Redress wrongs. Identify wrongdoers. Mandate punishment and retribution.

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Rule of Law – Supremacy of law

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Standards of behavior are established by laws and not by dictators or religious leaders. No person is above the law. Everyone is subject to the law. Everyone can be held accountable in court for their actions.

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Limitations of the law – Legality

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Laws defining crimes and penalties must be made public before being enforced. Made public by publishing laws. Puts the members of society on notice

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Limitations of the law – Ex post facto

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\”Not after the fact’. A person cannot be punished for actions committed before the law prohibiting the behavior was passed.

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Limitations of the law – Void for vagueness

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the definitions of laws must be clear and reasonable, specifying prohibited behaviors otherwise, those laws are illegal. A law must say what it means and mean what it says.

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Limitations of the law – Void for overbreadth

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Laws are illegal if they are stated so broadly as to prohibit legal actions as well as the illegal behavior

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Limitations of the law – Due process

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The government must treat people equally and fairly before the law

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Limitations of the law – Substantive

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Limits the power of governments to create crimes unless there is compelling, substantial, public interest in regulating or prohibiting the conduct.

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Limitations of the law – Procedural due process

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requirement that the government must follow established procedures and treat defendants equally.

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Limitations of the law – Right to privacy

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Laws cannot violate the reasonable personal privacy of citizens

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Limitations of the law – Cruel and Unusual Punishment

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Punishment that violates the principle of proportionality and is considered too harsh for the crime committed. Prohibited by the 8th amendment.

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Purpose of laws – Protect and punish – Control crime

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Legal function of the law. 1. Control crime – protects the public’s safety, and produces order.

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Purpose of laws – Protect and punish – Deterrence of illegal behavior

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Legal function of the law. 2. Deterrence of illegal behavior, identifies illegal behaviors, describes punishments for behavior. Two types of criminal deterrence – Individual, General.

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Purpose of laws – Protect and punish – Punishment regulation

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Legal function of the law. 3. Punishment Regulation – Safeguard against – Arbitrary punishment, and Excessive punishment. Determinate sentencing.

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Purpose of law – Protect and punish – Nulla poena sine lege

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Legal function of the law. 4. Nulla poena sine lege – \”No punishment without law\”

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Purpose of laws – Maintain and teach – Social control, and Social order

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Social function of the law. 1. Social control- efforts by society to regulate the behavior of its members. 2. Social order- all legal systems maintain and protect it.

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Purpose of laws – Maintain and teach – Social change

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Social function of the law. 3. Social change – the process by which ideas and practices are modified either actively or passively through natural forced or deliberate social actions.

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Functions of laws – Defines crime

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Any act that the government has declared to be an offense against the public good, declared by statute to be a crime, and which is prosecuted in criminal proceeding.

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Functions of laws – Defines criminal acts – Mala in se and Mala prohibita

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1. Mala in se – acts that are crimes because they are inherently evil. 2. Mala prohibita – acts that are prohibited because they are defined as crimes by law, not because the act is harmful or inherently evil.

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Functions of law – Elements of crime – Actus reus, Mens rea, Concurrence

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1. Actus reus – the actions of the person committing a crime as defined by law. 2. Mens rea – the state of mind and intent of the person committing the actus reus. 3. Concurrence – the completeness of the crime – bringing together the actus reus and mens rea.

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