Law is the system of rules that people in a country develop to deal with crime, business agreements and social relationships. It can also refer to the people who work in the legal system, such as a lawyer or judge.
Law can keep the peace, maintain the status quo, preserve individual rights, protect minorities against majorities, promote social justice, and provide for orderly social change. Some legal systems do better than others at these tasks.
In some countries, such as England, the government makes laws, which people must follow or face punishment. They may be called criminal laws or civil laws.
Some crimes are illegal while others are considered morally acceptable. Those who break the laws are punished, typically by fines or jail time.
A person can be convicted of a crime if the government proves that they committed a particular act or did something with the intent to commit an offense. The government must show that an act was done (actus reus), that the person knew it was against the law (mens rea), and that the act caused the desired effect, such as causing injury or death.
Criminal law can vary significantly from one state to another, but all states have statutes that designate certain conduct as a crime. The federal government also sets its own standards for punishing crimes.
There are many types of laws that govern our lives and our interactions with other people, including criminal law, civil law, and financial law. The rules for each of these areas can be complicated and have several different levels.