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Kinds of Laws

Task 1. Answer the questions.

1. What kinds of law do you know?

2. What is the difference between criminal and civil laws?

3. Can a criminal and civil suit be brought against a person for the same crime?



Task 2. Read the text then explain the words in bold and suggest synonyms for the highlighted words.

Kinds of Laws

Laws fall into two major groups: criminal and civil. Criminal laws regulate public conduct and set out duties owed to society. A criminal case can be brought only by the government against a person charged with committing a crime. Criminal laws have penalties, and convicted offenders are imprisoned, fined, placed under supervision, or punished in some other way. In the U.S. legal system, criminal offenses are divided into felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies, such as murder or robbery, are more serious crimes. The penalty for a felony is a term of more than one year in prison. For a misdemeanor, the penalty is a prison term of one year or less. Less serious crimes, such as simple assault or minor theft, are called misdemeanors.

Civil laws regulate relations between individuals or groups of individuals. A civil action is a lawsuit that can be brought by a person who feels wronged or injured by another person. Courts may award the injured person money for the loss, or they may order the person who committed the wrong to make amends in some other way. An example of a civil action is a lawsuit for recovery of damages suffered in an automobile accident. Civil laws regulate many everyday situations, such as marriage, divorce, contracts, real estate, insurance, consumer protection, and negligence.

Sometimes behavior can violate both civil and criminal laws and can result in two court cases. A criminal case is brought by the government against a defendant, the person accused of committing the crime. A civil case is brought by the plaintiff—the person or company harmed—against the defendant.

In a famous series of cases, former star football player O.J. Simpson was prosecuted in connection with the deaths of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. The Los Angeles district attorney was the prosecutor in this criminal case. In order to win a conviction, the district attorney had to prove that O.J. Simpson was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that if the jury (or the judge in a case tried without a jury) has any reasonable doubts about the defendant's guilt, then it must vote not to convict. The jury verdict in Simpson's criminal case was not guilty.

Several months later, the parents of Ron Goldman brought a civil suit against O.J. Simpson to recover damages resulting from the wrongful death of their son. In a civil case, the plaintiff wins by convincing the jury (or the judge in a case tried without a jury) by a preponderance of the evidence. The jury (or judge) needs only to decide if it is more likely than not that the plaintiff's complaint is true. This is a lower requirement for proof than the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard used in criminal cases. The reason for the different standards of proof is that a defendant loses money in a civil case but can suffer lengthy imprisonment or even the death penalty as a result of a criminal conviction. The Goldmans won their civil case against O.J. Simpson. Because the public tends not to understand the difference between civil and criminal cases, there was much confusion about how a person could be found not guilty in a criminal case and then responsible in a civil suit for damages for the same act.



Task 2. Match the set expressions with their Russian equivalents:

1) to charge with crime 2) a charge of crime 3) to charge oneself with 4) a charge to jury 5) to charge down 6) to charge at smb. 7) to charge into 8) to charge for 9) under smb.'s supervision 10) supervision of / on parole a.

Make your own sentences to illustrate the usage of the words


Task 3. Write (present) the main idea of the text using the highlighted words.


Matt and Kenji decide to skip school. They take Kenji's brother's car without telling him and drive to a local shopping center. Ignoring the sign "Parking for Handicapped Persons Only," they leave the car and enter an electronics shop.

After looking around, they buy an MP3 player. Then they buy some sandwiches from a street vendor and walk to a nearby park. While eating, they discover that the MP3 player does not work. In their hurry to return it, they leave their trash on the park bench.

When Matt and Kenji get back to the shopping center, they notice a large dent in one side of their car. The dent appears to be the result of a driver's carelessness in backing out of the next space. They also notice that the car has been broken into and that the satellite radio has been removed.

They call the police to report the accident and theft. When the police arrive, they seize a small, clear bag containing illegal drugs from behind the car's backseat. Matt and Kenji are arrested.


Task 1. List all the things you think Matt and Kenji did wrong.


Task 2. Answer the questions:

1. What laws are involved in this story?

2. Which of these are criminal laws? Which are civil laws?


Task 3. Complete the table with all word and set expressions that go with the words:

Criminal   Civil  



Date: 2015-02-28; view: 3477

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