Laws and Differences Between Them

Subject: Law
Pages: 3
Words: 645
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: College

Substantive law incorporates written statutory rules that govern how people behave and are mostly passed by the legislature. The statutory rules define the crimes and set forth the appropriate punishment mechanisms for such crimes (Walston-Dunham 152). The laws also establish the rights and obligations defining what an individual citizen should or should not do. If someone is found driving while drunk, the prosecutor should provide evidence that the person was driving, and he conducted himself in a way that could prove that he was drunk.

Procedural law encompasses the rules which govern the court proceedings in criminal lawsuits and civil and administrative proceedings. The procedural rules ensure consistent and fair practice in the legal rights given to a person in a criminal and civil action (Dyson and Ibbetson 2). It provides the ways through which substantive rules can be enforced. Although procedural law does not have independent powers, it can be applied in nonlegal contexts. In the aforementioned drunk-driving case under the substantive law, if it is proven that the driver was driving while drunk, then the police have the right to make an arrest. However, they should ensure that the driver is aware of all the charges within 72 hours of his arrest.

The government prosecution files the litigation against an individual or a corporation in the case of criminal law. The punishment of a guilty defendant can be payment of a fine or incarceration. In some exceptional cases, the execution of the defendant through the death penalty can occur. According to Carper, McKinsey, and West, the state has the burden of proof as it must prove that the defendant is guilty (20). If guilty, the defendant can be convicted, but acquitted if found not guilty. This is decided by the jury. For instance, one is deemed to commit a crime of assault when one intentionally strikes someone else.

Civil law involves legal disputes between private parties where either an individual or a corporation files the lawsuit and hence becomes the plaintiff. There is no incarceration or execution of the defendant in civil law. However, the losing defendant is obliged to compensate the plaintiff for damages and losses attributed to the behavior of this defendant. According to Jackson and Summers, the judge decides whether the defendant is or is not liable (xvi). If companies dispute land ownership, they may file a lawsuit for the court to decide who is right.

Common laws are developed based on proceeding ruling by the judges. The judgment can form the basis for new laws in the event of no statutes. Alternatively, the existing laws can be interpreted to determine new boundaries and distinctions. As suggested by Greenawalt, even though common law is developed daily, it is neither an expensive venture nor does it cause society fractionalization (197). An example of common law is the marriage law, which occurs when the marriage is validated by the two parties but is not registered in a church registry.

Statutory laws are formulated and endorsed by a country’s legislature and government. The new laws are passed by the federal and state government to enact existing laws and redress salient issues. As suggested by Grabowski, the legislation is developed while taking the prevailing rules and regulations into account (8). An example is where the Senate proposes a statute, and the two houses vote for it. When the statute is passed, it is sent to the president for signing.

The 14th amendment to the U.S Constitution aimed at ending the legal fiction of personhood for businesses and corporations. The general incorporation laws allowed the corporation to use their political influence to obtain the ultimate prize and corporate personhood rights. I was comfortable with defining the different laws. However, finding suitable examples was a challenge. This exercise is important because it will enable me to apply the law professionally in the different cases out there.


Carper, Donald L, John A. McKinsey, and Bill W. West. Understanding the Law. Mason, Ohio: Thomson/West, 2008. Print.

Dyson, Matthew, and David J. Ibbetson. Eds. Law and Legal Process: Substantive Law and Procedure in English Legal History, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Print

Grabowski, Andrzej. Juristic Concept of the Validity of Statutory Law: A Critique of Contemporary Legal Nonpositivism. Berlin: Springer, 2013. Print.

Greenawalt, Kent. Statutory and Common Law Interpretation. Auckland: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.

Jackson, John D, and Sarah J. Summers. The Internationalisation of Criminal Evidence: Beyond the Common Law and Civil Law Traditions, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.

Walston-Dunham, Beth. Introduction to Law. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning, 2009. Print