When it comes to people’s thoughts about the law, most begin with what is written in the United States Constitution, or rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, while these amendments and rulings are important to the fabric of our nation, it is state laws that impact the majority of our nation’s citizens the most.
While there is certain legislation created by Congress focusing on specific areas of law, such as immigration, the rule of law is generally left up to each individual state. In fact, most issues faced by state residents, visitors to a state, and businesses located in a state are ruled by state laws.
For most people, the most visible state laws are those dealing with traffic laws, licensing requirements for drivers, and other aspects related to ownership and operation of motor vehicles. But along with this area, all states also create their own sets of laws pertaining to what constitutes various crimes, as well as how they are prosecuted and those found guilty sentenced. Because of this, while something may be a crime in one state, another state may not view the act the same way. In addition, criminal acts may also have different punishments in different states.
But while motor vehicles and crimes are considered the two major areas of state law, all states have many civil laws as well, all of which deal with the vast majority of matters that impact people’s lives on a daily basis, such as taxes, health codes, business laws, and family law. And to ensure these laws are properly enacted, most attorneys will not only focus on the laws of the state in which they practice, but also deal primarily in one area of law. However, this will not necessarily prevent them from practicing in federal courts as well.
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