Introduction to Business Law


beyond a reasonable doubt

higher standard applied in criminal cases in which the state removes all reasonable doubt to prove a defendant's guilt

checks and balances

system in which each of the three branches of government has certain powers that can keep the other branches in check and ensure that none has too much power

civil law

set of rules that regulate noncriminal matters and provide remedies such as money damages

common law

case law decided by courts that sets forth the law in areas not governed by statute or regulation

criminal law

set of rules regulating crimes against public order, such as felonies and misdemeanors, and punishable by fines and incarceration

executive branch

responsible for enforcing the laws made by the legislative and judicial branches and made up of the president, vice president, cabinet members, and agency heads


system of government made up of a federal government and regional or state governments. Federalism establishes that while the federal government can make laws, it also delegates to the states the making of laws in other areas

judicial branch

interprets the meaning of laws, applies laws to individual cases, and decides if laws violate the constitution

judicial review

power of a court to review government enacted laws or decisions and decide whether they are constitutional


science, theory, or philosophy of law; a system or body of law

legislative branch

consists of the senate and house of representatives and is primarily responsible for the creation of laws


principle that confirms that state or local laws that violate, conflict with, or are less strict than federal law are invalid

preponderance of the evidence

principle that the burden of proof must be met by showing the evidence more likely than not to prove a case. It applies in civil cases

private law

set of laws dealing with the interaction between individuals or businesses regarding private interests

procedural law

set of rules that regulate how to enforce substantive rights, such as life and liberty, as opposed to actually bestowing a legal right

public law

set of laws dealing with the relationship between government and individuals regarding public interests

stare decisis

principle in the law that courts use to decide cases using established legal precedent set by prior decisions from appellate courts


written law passed by a federal or state legislative body and signed by the president or state governor (as opposed to a rule or regulation issued by a government agency)

substantive law

set of laws that define and regulate legal rights

supremacy clause

rule that federal laws preempt, or take precedence over, laws of the various states; also known as Article 6, Clause 2 of the Constitution