Statutory Law 101: A Basic Guide to Understanding How it Works

Todd Bennett

Statutory law is a subset of the legal system that is distinguished from other types of law by the fact that it is composed of statutes that have been approved by a legislative body. The goal of a statute, which is a document that is legally binding, is to provide the general public with a set of principles that they are expected to follow. Statutes are utilized to provide solutions to a variety of societal issues and challenges, including those in the domains of criminal law, tax law, and contract law, to name just a few.

Statutes are compiled into a single document known as a code, and codes cover certain areas of the law. For example, the United States Code is a compilation of federal statutes that are arranged by topic, similar to the way that the Code of Federal Regulations is organized.

Statutes are the highest form of legislation in the land, and it is required that all members of society abide by them. In addition, judges will look to them as the primary source of law when choosing how to interpret and apply the law, and they will base their decisions on the precedents that they find there.

The legislative body that initially adopted a statute has the authority to make changes to it or even completely repeal it. This hints that statutes are not set in stone but rather are subject to change and development throughout the course of time. It is essential to keep in mind, however, that altering or getting rid of an existing law can be difficult and time consuming, and that it may be challenged in court.

In conclusion, statutory law is the body of legislation that has been legally enacted by a legislature and then codified in a document known as a statute. This body of law is referred to as the “corpus of law.” It is the primary and most authoritative source of law, and it tackles certain issues or concerns that are prevalent in society. The legislative body have the authority to alter or get rid of a statute, although the process of doing so could be difficult.

The difference between common law and statute law

Statutes are laws that are enacted by lawmakers, and they can be found at both the federal and state levels. Examples include enactments such as statutes, ordinances, and regulations. On the other side, it is the judicial branch that is responsible for the development of what is known as “common law.” This is accomplished through the application of precedents and earlier judgements in cases.

The principle of stare decisis, which states that decisions regarding similar subjects ought to be made in the same manner, serves as the basis for this method. In general, statutory law is more specific and prescriptive, whereas common law tends to be more general and principle-based.

Are there different types of statutory law?

Different kinds of statutes law do exist. Here are few cases in point:

Criminal law

Statutory law is a corpus of law that establishes the penalties that are to be imposed on lawbreakers, as well as the definitions of and prohibitions on activities that are considered to be illegal, such as robbery and murder.

Civil law

Statutes are what decide how conflicts between private parties, like those concerning contracts or tort claims, should be handled when they arise.

Administrative law

This type of statutory legislation applies to administrative agencies as well as the rules that those agencies create. It additionally governs the process that must be followed in order to contest the legitimacy of such rules.

Tax law

The imposition and collection of taxes are governed by these sorts of laws, which also serve to regulate those processes. In addition, the laws that govern tax evasion, tax fraud, and other monetary transgressions are covered in this compilation.

Environmental law

This set of legislation was created with the intention of preventing and punishing behaviours that put the natural environment in jeopardy.

Labor law

Statutes that outline the rights and duties of enterprises and employees govern matters such as the minimum wage, overtime pay, and the safety of the workplace, to name just a few examples of the kinds of things that fall under their purview.

How do authorities carry out the provisions of statutes?

The responsibility for ensuring that statutes are followed falls on the courts as well as on the other departments of government. The specific measures of law enforcement will be established according to the nature of the legislation as well as the location of the violation.

  1. Criminal law: When it comes to criminal affairs, law enforcement agents (like police, for example) are tasked with upholding the law to the letter, and either the state or the federal government has the authority to initiate criminal charges. A criminal conviction can lead to a variety of penalties, including time spent in jail, community work, or financial reparation.
  2. Civil law: When it comes to criminal affairs, law enforcement agents (like police, for example) are tasked with upholding the law to the letter, and either the state or the federal government has the authority to initiate criminal charges. A criminal conviction can lead to a variety of penalties, including time spent in jail, community work, or financial reparation.
  3. Administrative law: Administrative entities have the responsibility of ensuring that the regulations they make are followed to the letter. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in charge of safeguarding the environment, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is in charge of ensuring the safety of people in the workplace. Both agencies work together to protect the environment.
  4. Tax law: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other organizations that collect taxes are accountable for ensuring that the law is adhered to in regards to taxation. These departments are in responsibility of determining tax liability, collecting tax payments, and enforcing the regulations governing taxes.
  5. Environmental law: There are a variety of government bodies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and specific state environmental agencies, that are tasked with the duty of ensuring compliance with environmental law. They have the legal ability to go after violators and administer fines and other punishments for offences.
  6. Labor law: The Department of Labor (DOL) is the government agency that is accountable for looking into complaints lodged by workers and taking legal action against companies that violate labour standards.

Can statutory law be amended or repealed?

Statutes can be amended or even discarded entirely depending on the circumstances. When it comes to changing or getting rid of laws, many jurisdictions and levels of government each have their own distinct procedures. However, the legislature is responsible for the creation of new laws, the modification of existing laws, and the abolition of laws in the majority of democratic countries.

Amending a statute

In order to make a change to an existing law, a bill that proposes the change must be introduced in the relevant legislature (whether it be the United States Congress or a state legislature). The bill must then undergo the typical legislative process, which consists of scrutiny by committees, discussion, and a vote. If the law is approved by the legislative body, it will be sent to either the President or the Governor for signature or veto. The bill, if it were to become law, would alter an already established legal standard.

Repealing a statute

Any legislation that seeks to alter an existing law must first be introduced in the legislature, where it must proceed through the same committees and meet the same voting requirements as any other bill that proposes to repeal a law. In the event that the measure reaches the desk of the president and is signed into law, the statute in question will be overturned.

It is essential to keep in mind that not all laws are built on the same foundation; for example, the process of amending the United States Constitution is more complicated than the process of revising a standard statute. In addition, some pieces of legislation may contain a “sunset provision” that stipulates that they will automatically become null and void after a given date or occurrence; in this scenario, it would not be necessary to do rid of the statute in question.

How does statutory law interact with constitutional law?

Several statute-constitutional intersections exist. The US Constitution limits government and private rights. Statutes are legislation passed by Congress or a state legislature within their constitutional power.

Statutes must be consistent with the Constitution

The legislative branch passes laws that must comply with the Constitution. If a law breaches the Constitution, courts will overturn it. Judicial review ensures that laws are constitutional and sustained by the courts.

Statutes offer more specificity and protection than the Constitution

Laws can provide more specific protection than the Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees free speech, but a statute may ensure an employee’s right to legally sanctioned collective bargaining.

The Constitution can be interpreted by statutes

Statutes interpret the Constitution. Legislation may clarify a constitutional clause’s interpretation or applicability.

Constitutional guarantees can be used to challenge laws

Challenge laws with constitutional protections. A First or Fourth Amendment-violating law that restricts free expression or privacy may be unlawful.

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Todd Bennett is a five-year criminal defense attorney. He is dedicated to defending the accused and has won several criminal cases. Todd Bennett uses his significant criminal justice experience to create customized defense tactics for each client. Todd Bennett frequently speaks at legal gatherings, offering his criminal defense expertise and staying abreast of industry advancements. Criminal defendants trust Todd Bennett's vigorous advocacy and commitment to client success.