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Classifications of the Law by Mind Map: Classifications of the Law
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Classifications of the Law

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Federal vs. State Law

One way to categorize law is to separate federal law from state law. There is federal and state civil law, federal and state criminal law, federal and state substantive law, and federal and state procedural law.

Federal Law

The federal government is provided for by the United States Constitution. It is superior to any state government and is considered the supreme law of the land. All federal law is linked to the U.S. Constitution. Though the Supreme Court creates federal case law by making decisions in cases brought before it, the cases must be about the interpretation of a federal Constitutional provision, statute, or regulation. When there is no federal issue, a case is heard by state courts.

State Law

State law is made by state legislatures. If a subject is not specifically reserved to the federal government in the U.S. Constitution, it is up to each state to determine how it will handle the topic. There are some Uniform Laws or Codes. For example, many states have drawn their probate laws from the Uniform Probate Code, either directly or as a modified version. Each state is free, though, to make its own laws and they do not have to be similar so long as they are constitutional.

Criminal vs. Civil Law

Law is categorized as either criminal or civil. Criminal and civil law can be federal or state law (think Bankruptcy for civil law), and either substantive or procedural.

Criminal Law

Criminal law is the area of law that deals with the actions that are codified as crimes and the punishment of individuals who commit crimes.

Civil Law

Civil law deals with disputes between individuals. Most of the body of civil law is case, or common, law.

Substantive vs. Procedural Law

Law can be categorized as substantive or procedural. Substantive and procedural law can be related to either civil or criminal law and can be either federal-or-state-based.

Substantive Law

Substantive law is written law, either statutory or case law. Think of it as the "actual" law, itself. When you go to the Internet to view the material attached to this topic, be sure to scroll far enough down to read all of the material.

Procedural Law

Procedural law is the guideline for how a case moves through the legal system. It is not the "actual" law, but is the procedure that is designed to ensure a fair trial and consistent application of due process. When you go to the website attached to this topic, be sure to scroll down to see all of the material.