Understanding Federalism and Criminal Law

In criminal law jurisdiction and locale can make a huge difference in the level of crime you are charged with and the penalties associated therein. The United States of America was built upon the concept of federalism, wherein each individual state had sovereignty. States were designated as the caregiver of criminal laws and budget. Over the years, the federal government has asserted more and more power over states, and even developed its own criminal system. As it stands, an individual can be charged for a crime such as drug trafficking at both the state and the federal level. The penalties, however, will be different. What is true at the state and federal level, is likewise true when comparing regional statutes and penalties. For example, the state will have drunk driving laws, but each county, city, or municipality will have different statutes or even penalties associated with it. New York City local statutes prevent citizens from purchasing mace, whereas 15 miles out it is legal to own and carry it.

Obviously these discrepencies can make it difficult for visitors of an area or someone who has recently moved to that area to be able to keep track of the legislation and stay in accordance with the law. This becomes painfully obvious when travellers coming from the southern United States where gun laws are less strict attempt to drive up the coast and become victim to the capricity in law. What is completely legal to own and transport in Virginia can literally get you a sentence of 5 years in prison in the Empire State.+

In addition to statutes and criminal codes, there is also the mood or tempo of the courts who will be hearing your case. Some counties and their representatives are tougher on certain types of crime than another. A DUI in the Bronx would produce one result or offer whereas in Queens or Nassau you’d be less likely to get the same first offer due to the community stance on drunk driving.

It becomes difficult for attorneys to provide sufficient answers to the families of the accused when it comes to why their son or daughter just received a B Felony for criminal sales or why a military veteran is looking at criminal charges for having his weapon in his car as he was driving across another state to get home for Thanksgiving. The laws and rules seem fickle to the average person, and truth be known to the average attorney, as well.

There are times when many of us question the system, and at these times it is a healthy practice to understand why the framers of our Constitution set it up this way. This system allows individuals to move to areas that align with their values or shape their area in this way. Someone who wishes to own an AR-15 can move to Texas or Virginia. Someone who doesn’t want these types of weapons in their community can move to New York or Massachusetts.

Understanding the laws in your region or the region you are staying in is as simple as checking an online law library. This is advisable for anyone and everyone who is considering a move to another state or county or even attempting a drive across country.

Any type of criminal charge usually leaves the accused frightened, stressed, and almost too depressed to function. These swirling emotions oftentimes result in a dangerous state of denial. Criminal cases need to start immediately so that the most positive resolution can be created from the situation.

The Importance of Administrative Law

Over the past decade it appears that administrative law, which is the body of law governing the activities of administrative agencies of government, has been minimized, allowing a number of governmental agencies to run ineffectually. Ultimately this has resulted in numerous economic and environmental calamities within the United States, i.e.; British Petroleum, Enron, Wall Street, and the auto industry. The majority of governmental agencies within the United States are underneath the executive branch, with few being a part of the judicial and legislative branches.

When this body of law, which is considered also a branch of public law, is not regulated closely, it can upset the balance in areas such as police law, international trade, manufacturing, environmental, taxation, broadcasting, immigration, and transportation. One of the main responsibilities of administrative law is the enforcement of specific regulatory agenda. When rulemaking and adjudication are not followed as previously set, it is similar to allowing the ‘fox to watch over the hen house.’

Under The New Deal legislative plan, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Democratic Congress enacted several statutes that created new federal agencies to assist the United States from the economic dearth of the Great Depression. During this time, the opponents to The New Deal were concerned with the nation allowing extensive government, placing the United States into a position of a possible dictatorship. By 1946, after ten years of detailed study of administrative regulation, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) became law.

To provide constitutional safeguards, the APA develops an outline to regulating agencies and their roles. The basic purposes of the APA are:

(1) to require agencies to keep the public informed of their organization, procedures and rules;
(2) to provide for public participation in the rulemaking process;
(3) to establish uniform standards for the conduct of formal rulemaking and adjudication;
(4) to define the scope of judicial review.

Corporate and Business Law

There are a lot of aspects in business that need to be processed with legality. Corporate transactions should always follow legal processes to avoid conflicts between and among individuals involved – finances, contracts, real estates, etc. That said, corporate lawyers therefore play an important role and this is the reason why business entities not just seek advice from business lawyers outside but they hire them as permanent members and function as part of their legal counsel. Business lawyers work to settle various corporate issues, including the following:

  • Compensation issues – a corporate lawyer can settle compensation-related issues between employer and employees; he sees to it that a business entity does not violate the law governing compensation/benefits for its employees and at the same time he also ensures that these benefits are not abused, which can be ‘fatal’ to the business itself when not addressed appropriately.
  • Business formation – starting a business involves many legal processes, including securing business permit, leasing and other real estate contract, establishing a concrete company policy, etc. – a corporate lawyer can help so that all of these are on the right track.
  • Shareholder agreement – also known as stockholders’ agreement (in the US), this needs to be managed by a lawyer who is expert in corporate and business law as this involves complexities of legality and finances. Other issues settled by corporate lawyers are dispute resolution by arbitration, constitutional documents, mechanism for removing minority shareholders, etc.
  • Corporate financing – this involves dealing with monetary decisions, analysis of corporate acquisition, financial operation of a company that includes raising money for a variety of projects or business ventures. As complex as it is, a corporate lawyer can play an important role to take part of all the legalities involved in all of financial transactions a business undertakes.
  • Regulatory compliance – a corporate lawyer can also take part for the fulfillment of business compliance in accordance to the prevailing rules and regulations mandated by law. This helps a company performs its business without any conflict with the existing policies established by the government, which could cause some problems in the future such as criminal or civil penalties – when the governing policies are not fulfilled.
  • Commercial litigation – this is perhaps one of the biggest responsibilities that a corporate lawyer can have on his shoulder; this involves settling legal controversies and business issues. Some of issues handled by a corporate lawyer under commercial litigation are breaches of contract, class actions, employment disputes, business dissolution, breach of fiduciary duty, debt collection – among others.