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Unformatted text preview: Chapter Two: Classifications of Law 49 C HAPTER 2 C LASSIFICATIONS OF L AW S ECTION 2.1 P UBLIC L AW V . P RIVATE L AW 49 The major classifications of law are public law and private law. Public law involves the rights of society, and those rights are usually repre- sented by a governmental agency. An example of public law is the crime of murder. This criminal offense affects the right of all members of society to be safe and secure. The categories of public law are crimi- nal law, constitutional law and administrative law. Private law, on the other hand, involves matters between individuals, such as the leasing of an apartment, a claim against a doctor for mak- ing a mistake during surgery, or the purchasing of a new car. These matters are personal between the parties to the transaction or incident. The major classifications of private law are contract law, tort law, prop- erty law, and family law. S ECTION 2.2 C RIMINAL L AW A crime is a violation of those duties that an individual owes to his or her community and the breach of which requires the offender to make satisfaction to the public. As a result, a crime is a violation of the rights of society and not of the individual victim. This distinction is immedi- ately apparent when the victim of a crime does not want to prosecute the suspect. While the prosecutor will usually follow the victims wishes, a district attorney can force a victim to testify against the ac- cused if there is a compelling societal interest, such as in cases of child or spousal abuse or rape. Since the government is responsible for tak- ing action against a criminal defendant on behalf of society, the caption of the case contains the name of the governmental unit, such as the United States, The State, or The People versus the defendant. According to the United States Department of Justice, twenty-four million crimes were committed in 2003, and 15% of all households were victimized. Statistically, 77% of those crimes were classified as prop- erty crimes, 22% involved crimes of violence, and 1% related to crimes of theft. Men were more likely to be violently attacked by a stranger while women were more likely to be victimized by a friend, or ac- quaintance. Criminal laws are established by the legislature and are broken down into different categories based upon one thingthe penalty for the offense. While each jurisdiction will differ on what crimes go into a specific category, these classifications are treason, felonies, misdemean- Hodge_CH02.pmd 10/13/2008, 10:30 AM 49 50 Law for the Business Enterprise ors, and summary offenses. Treason is defined in the United States Constitution because it is considered the most serious offense against the country. Article III, Section 3 states: Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. A person cannot be con- victed of treason unless two witnesses testify to the commission of the...
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