The U.S. Legal System Explained

The U.S. Legal System Explained

The American legal system can seem quite complex, especially when you live in a different state to the person you’ve taken to court for whatever reason. We’ve come up with a brief summary to help you grasp the basics!

The U.S. Legal System Explained

First of all, there are two types of laws: federal and state. Congress and state legislators decide on what the federal and state laws. Federal laws are enforced and created by the federal government. State laws are enforced and created by the state.

Below, we break down each component of the U.S. Legal System.

Federal Laws

The Congress executes federal laws. Drafted Bills are debated by the Senate and House of Representatives. Once a final vote on the matter has been achieved, it is then passed on to the President to make a final decision of the vote. This decision then becomes the law.

State Laws

The state can pass laws in which jurisdiction they share with Congress.

Courts of Law

Courts enforce laws as well as create the common laws which are not covered by the state or federal laws.


Types of Courts

Trial Courts

This type of court tries civil cases that have not been resolved.

Appellate Courts

This court discusses trial case decisions to come to a final verdict

Federal Courts

This court has jurisdiction of federal law violations and diversity jurisdiction involving the two parties in a case who come from different states.

Types of Cases

Civil and Criminal

The federal government or state prosecute criminal law violations. Civil cases occur when two parties have a legal dispute over common law violations.


If a case does not come to a resolution it then goes to a trial by jury.


A losing party of any case who is unhappy with the outcome of a case can then go to a court to appeal in the appellate court.


Parties choose to resolve a dispute with arbitration instead of a lawsuit with a registered arbitrator. There is no judge or jury and it’s quicker and much cheaper!



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