Introduction to Law & Government


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This is just an introductory PP to Law and government in Queensland Australia.

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Introduction to Law & Government

  1. 1. governmentand the law
  2. 2. ObjectiveFor you to: gain a basic understanding of how our legal system works become familiar with some terms that are used in legal processes find out which court is which find out why we must have laws See the difference between rules & laws
  3. 3. Some Legal terms burdon of proof – prosecution must prove that the person accused is guilty of the crime. actus reus – “guilty act” the prosecution must prove that the accused committed the crime voluntarily indictable offences – serious offences that require a full trial with a jury. (armed robbery, murder, serious drug offences) legally binding decision – an order given by a court that must be followed. presumption of innocence – innocent unless proven guilty Judge – a highly trained legal professional who presides over District, Supreme and High Courts. His role is to advise the jury and pass sentence summary offence – criminal, less serious crime dealt with by the Local Court (shoplifting) Remand – a person held in custody while they await trial Discretionary power – to exercise personal or professional judgment in decision making
  4. 4. More terms fundamental rights – rights every person is entitled too age of majority – 18 judged as adult contract – a legally enforceable agreement witness - one who testifies or gives evidence in court anarchy – no law or government, people free to do as they please, society unable to function Statute Law – Laws made by Parliament Common Law – also known as judge-made law, used when there is no appropriate Statue Law Civil Law – Laws that govern the legal relationship between individuals and individuals and organisations Contract Law – a legally binding agreement between two or more parties Tort Law – Civil wrongs legal capacity – the legal rights & responsibilities associated with a person’s age doctrine of precedent – a judgement or decision of a court of law used in similar offences, (stare decises), to stand by a decision
  5. 5. Why have laws and rules ? to regulate our society to protect us and our property to ensure everyone in our community behaves the way society expects to protect our environment to protect our health to protect our privacy to protect businessLaws and rules influence every aspect of our livesIf you choose to break the law, the law will impose consequences
  6. 6. Laws in our society must be JUST – no one is disadvantages or favoured ENFORCABLE – punishment of some kind is necessary if laws are broken ACCEPTABLE – needs to fit in with the communities it governsIs a law and a rule the same thing? NO, but both of them:• set clear expectations• have consequences if broken = punishment• are acceptable to the group they govern
  7. 7. A law is ‘binding’ or applies to allA rule is ‘binding’ only to members of a smaller organisation The smoke Free Environment Act makes smoking in any enclosed public place illegal = law A club may have a rule that collared shirts must be worn at all times in their premises = ruleWhat about regulations? These are different again. The term is often used incorrectly when really meaning a rule.Remember that rules and regulations are NOT laws Rules are specific and apply only to some people, some of the time and regulations are more general Eg. School has regulations about the type of uniform to be worn, but the school rules that state specifically how it is to be worn.
  8. 8. What happens if I break the Law?Consequences are enforced by the police and/or courtsystemThe punishment may be:  a fine for less dangerous crimes to lifelong prison terms for highly vicious crimes like murder. Other options:  community service hours (only given to offenders not considered dangerous)  good behaviour bonds (criminals agree to stay out of trouble and report to authorities regularly)SYSTEM THE LEGAL & GOVERNMENTStrongly connected - federal, state and local governments areresponsible for making and reforming laws.Australian government is based on the principles of democracy = we electour government so citizens ultimately make the decisions.We also use the federal system = 1 central government for the wholecountry as well as 6 separate state and 2 territory governments.
  9. 9. DIVISION OF POWERSRefers to the way federal, state and (to an extent) local governmentssplit up their areas of responsibility of power after federation (1901)If State and Federal laws clash in an area they share, sect.109 of theConstitution states that Federal law prevails.So, the federal government can do whatever theylike?NO – the powers of the Federal Government are mostly listed insect.51 of the Australian Constitution – remember the voters SEPERATION OF POWERSRefers to which part of government makes the law and which part hasto enforce it. Enforcement is distributed between 3 arms of g’ment1. Legislative – responsible for passing Acts of Parliament2. Executive – puts into practice the Acts passed by legislature3. Judiciary – applies the law to individual situations. Settles disputes by using the court system and law enforcement authorities (judges & magistrates)
  10. 10. THE COURT HIERARCHY High Court of AustraliaFamily Court of Australia Federal Court of Australia State Supreme Court Criminal – most serious Civil - $200,000 and over State District Court Criminal – indictable offences Civil - $40,000 to $200,000 State Local Court Magistrate – Criminal – minor offences Civil – under $40,000
  11. 11. FAMILY LAW Deals with family issues such as marriage, de-facto,AREAS OF LAW same sex relationships and the relationship between parents and children CRIMINAL LAW (beyond reasonable doubt) Laws to protect the general public from harm. A criminal case is between the accused and the state. The prosecution must prove the elements of a Family Law crime, often referred to as actus reus (the criminal act) and mens rea, (intention to commit the act). Various types are: • crime against the person • crime against property • regulatory offences – affects smooth running of Criminal Law society = traffic (PUBLIC) COMMON (precedent) CIVIL LAW Governs the legal relations between individuals and organisations. Launched by individuals or organisations who seek the courts assistance to solve a dispute that has arisen between them. Common Law Main areas are: Contract, Property & Tort Law. (PRIVATE) Mainly related to issues of trespass, negligence or defamation.
  12. 12. Activities to complete1. Why do we need laws2. Should there be some areas in society where no laws exists? Outline why/why not – give examples3. Outline why society uses a system of L and P plates to designate less experienced drivers?4. Why are there laws about how to use a roundabout or traffic lights?5. Explain, why are there demerit points tied to drivers licences?6. Distinguish the difference between a rule and a law.7. Explain what is meant by a hierarchical system of courts.8. What is meant by public behaviour laws? Give two examples.9. Explain the difference between an indictable and a summary offence.10. If the school had no rules, what do you think would happen? What does that say about the importance of law to society?11. What is the legal age a person can be employed full-time?
  13. 13. Moral values The Law Ethical valuesMORALITY – what is “good”, both public and private moralityETHICAL – what is “right”, not necessarily what is goodAs influences on our society change so do our moral and ethical values. CHANGING the LAWEffective laws are those that reflect the wishes of the majority of society.• To change Statute Law, a new Bill must be passed by the relevant parliament.• To change Common Law is much easier and this makes many people critical of it. The process is affected by the court hierarchy. If a lower court judge makes a decision that creates a Common Law, the law can be changed by the decision of a judge of a higher court.
  14. 14. Accessing the Law COST: Accessing the Law is very costly ie, in excess of $1000 a day in court The Government provides legal service to people – Legal Aid  The financially disadvantaged  The disabled  Those from non-English speaking backgrounds  Disadvantaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait IslandersTIME:Cases may take a long time to be heard. The reliability of evidence isreduced and people are remanded unnecessarily due to the backlog ofclaims to be heard.PROCEDURES:Often lengthy, expensive and a highly complicated system combinedwith citizens poor legal knowledge often affect their willingness to takepart. Migrants may have had to deal with a legal system that is highlycorrupt, serving those with money and influence.
  15. 15. European / English LawCIVIL LAW – the basis of most legal systems inEurope, it emphasis rights.  uses the written code  known as inquisitorialCOMMOM LAW civil law (person 2 person) – the basis ofEnglish & Australian, it emphasis remedies.  uses the doctrine of precedent  known as accusatorial
  16. 16. THE END at last Thank you for watching this presentation. If you have any queries about anything seen in the show please ask your assessor.NOTE: This slideshow will be available on the student network for students to review at their own leisure.