69

The answer from @user6726 is a good one. But, I'd like to add to it by pointing out that the body of law applicable to an individual is usually much, much smaller than the entire body of law. I'm a lawyer who has been in private practice for almost 25 years with an extremely diverse practice compared to the average lawyer, and I've never even looked at ...


64

If such conversations are reported, it can place the suspect in a dilemma. Consider a man who appears to have overdosed on illegal narcotics. He is taken to the hospital, and the doctor asks what kind of drugs he took, in order to plan his treatment. If the man thinks that what he says could be used to prosecute him, he might lie to the doctor. Then he ...


52

Contra proferentem However, it's a principle that is rarely applied in practice since it's at the end of a long line of judicial reasoning that gets applied first. Ambiguity in contract provisions are usually resolved by the golden rule: Determine the ordinary and natural meaning of the words used Consider the context of the contract including its purpose, ...


41

Scotland has a third possible verdict, which covers much of the situation you are asking about: “not proven”. While still an acquittal, it is typically used by judges and juries in situations where they are not suitably convinced the defendant is necessarily innocent, but not convinced the evidence supports a conviction. As recently as 2015, attempts to ...


28

This is a difficult question in the philosophy of law, which in some views of what "law" is, is outside the scope of law (that's the view that "the law is whatever is enacted by the government" perspective). In what is generally known as the natural law perspective, "what the law is" flows from general moral principles, so you would know that murder is wrong,...


27

Your question assumes the omniscient-observer perspective, that there is someone who knows everything but doesn't interfere in human affairs. Thus the premise; the person committed the crime, nobody knows this, at most one can only speculate whether it's possible. We have no access to this absolute source of knowledge. The legal system is based on what we do ...


21

In general, ignorance of a law is an excuse only when the law specifically says it is. There are extreme cases where a law has been found invalid because it did not give people enough notice. Actually, only one case I know of -- Lambert v. California, 355 U.S. 225 (1957). The city of Los Angeles passed a law making it illegal for anyone who had ever been ...


19

Is this a real legal principle? Yes. It is known as the doctrine of contra proferentem. The Restatement (Second) of Contracts at § 206 calls it "interpretation against the draftsman". This doctrine is present in both common law and civil law. The presumption is that the party who drafts the terms of the contract has greater bargaining power than ...


15

It makes a different whether "charges are dropped" or whether there is an actual trial and the person has been acquitted. It also makes a difference under what jurisdiction this occurs. In most US jurisdictions, when charges are dropped, it means that the investigating authority (police, normally), or the prosecuting authority (DA, PA, or US ...


14

Who is supposed to teach the law to the citizens? Each individual is responsible for educating himself or herself on the law. That is one condition the individual needs to meet for living in, and preserving, a civilized society. But it is a crucial prerequisite for a government to ensure that its laws are accessible, intelligible, and applied consistently. ...


13

The legal principle that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because he or she was unaware of its content is referred to as Ignorantia juris non excusat or ignorantia legis neminem excusat, and there is a nice Wikipedia page about it, which includes exceptions such as: There were, particularly in the ...


11

The validity of the execution of a contract is governed by the law of the place where it was signed. A location next to the date establishes that place and hence often, the governing law for the validity of that signature. If the contract does not expressly state what law governs, the contract itself is governed by the law of the place where the last ...


10

Malum prohibitum can be defined as An act which is immoral because it is illegal; not necessarily illegal because it is immoral. while malum in se can be defined as An innately immoral act, regardless of whether it is forbidden by law. Examples include adultery, theft, and murder. A side-by-side comparison is given here: Legal scholars have used ...


8

The question "how is this explained legally" is worth answering. Its not the same as "how does guilty/not guilty work", or even the "not proven" verdict in Scottish law. The idea here is that a prosecution pits an Individual against the full power of the State. A state can easily abuse that power, and many states routinely do so ...


8

As someone that has served on a criminal jury at a criminal trial, I can say that the verdicts "guilty" and "not guilty" don't literally mean that. The jury isn't actually judging the person, but the evidence against that person: The defendant claims "not guilty". The prosecution presents evidence intended to prove guilt. The ...


6

Law is more like sport than mathematics You don’t know how it will turn out until you play the game. If a case goes to trial it’s because at both sides believe they can win. Both sides probably have good reasons for their belief. At least one of them is wrong.


6

I don't know what you mean by "deal with it". I presume you are not asking how to psychologically cope with the contradiction in conclusions, instead the question is how to evaluate two or more answers, both of which might be wrong. IMO the appropriate question is, what is the best-supported answer. The most important thing to do is not decide that based on ...


6

You yourself use “guilty,” “not guilty,” and “innocent”—don’t these three things already provide for exactly the distinction you are looking for? Also note that defendants aren’t asked if they’re innocent, and are not required to prove they are innocent, and the verdict that a jury renders doesn’t say they are innocent—it says they are not guilty. “Not ...


5

Yes. In a civil case, there are two parties and the case is about finding out who has which obligations to whom. In a civil case, the plaintiff has to prove that they actually incurred damage through the actions of the defendant. A criminal case is the state vs. the defendant. The "wronged party" is the society as a whole, usually represented by the ...


5

It is short for habeas corpus ad subjiciendum, and refers to "the great writ" in Medieval Latin Praecipimus tibi quod corpus A.B. in prisona nostra sub custodia tua detentum, ut dicitur, una cum die et causa captionis et detentionis suae, quocumque nomine praedictus A.B. censeatur in eadem, habeas coram nobis ... ad subjiciendum et recipiendum ea ...


5

There is a clinical difference between insane and mentally ill. An insane person is "so irrational in their behavior, or so unable to control it - so unlike 'us'" that they are not criminally liable (from earlier in the chapter). Mental illness is "substantial disorder of thought or mood that substantially impairs judgement ..." (from near your link). ...


5

This is called a qui tam action. It's a concept that's been around a long time in the English legal system (predating the US), to encourage people to help the government enforce its laws. The more contemporary system is to give private parties the right to sue on their own behalf for some wrong (known as a "private attorney general" system), which is how ...


5

The alternative is the same whether just one lower court or many lower courts ignore SCOTUS precedent. An aggrieved parts will appeal the lower court ruling, and the matter will work its way up the ladder until SCOTUS directly rules on this application of the law. This sort of happens all the time, when lower courts don't apply the ostensive "final ruling" ...


5

In the US it's very simple: How does the party that makes the lawsuit get the money in this scenario? They don't. Winning a lawsuit against a person is a legal confirmation that they really do owe you the money. It also gives you the ability to do certain things to try to collect: you could seize their assets or garnish their wages. If they don't have ...


5

As you say, the roommate who was there "did not equate the sound of a running toilet with wasting water". That, I am afraid to say, is negligent: normally, when you hear constantly flowing water, you do something about it. Somebody has to pay for the water, and assuming the water is in your name, that is you. You could yell at the roommate, but legal ...


5

Yes Probate law, consumer protection law and family law spring to mind.


5

The key word in your quoted text is "if" meaning that such a person need not be present at the relevant time. Rather, a judge or jury using, for example, their life experiences, common sense and all the evidence before them to determine objectively what a reasonable person would do in the same or similar circumstances. A process some refer to as ...


5

The objective observer is not a real person She is one of a number of imaginary people who are used in law to inform judges and jurors how they should intellectually engage with a legal issue. We may not know or be a reasonable person or an objective observer but we know the characteristics they would have if they existed. The legal usage is not to prove a ...


4

The first method of dispute resolution is called negotiation. This is a technique where the parties involved follow a process known as talking to each other to see if they can agree on a resolution. What makes this enforceable is a thing called goodwill. If they cannot agree or if there is insufficient goodwill people can (in some circumstances) ask a court ...


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