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How to Get a Common-Law Divorce

A common-law marriage can be dissolved by a court if common-law marriages are recognized in your state. If they are not, there are steps you can take to achieve the same results a divorce would offer.


  1. Understand that in some states you can live together as a couple for a number of years and be considered legally married without ever having had a wedding ceremony.
  2. Know that if you are living with a partner and decide you want a “divorce,” you will need to first consult your state’s law to determine if common-law marriages are recognized by your state.
  3. File divorce papers if common-law marriages are recognized, you can file divorce papers, asking a court to dissolve your marriage, divide your property and determine custody, child support and alimony.
  4. Realize that if common-law marriage is not recognized in your state, or if it is and you would rather not go to court for a divorce, there are several options available to you that will help you end your relationship and tie up legal loose ends.
  5. See a mediator. A mediator can help you resolve all of the issues before you and set out your agreement in a binding contract. Mediation can solve all of your issues in one process.
  6. File papers in your local family court. If you have children with your partner, you will need to have a determination of custody, visitation and child support. You do not need to be married to have a court assist you with this.
  7. Try to divide your property on your own. Have each person take what he or she brought to the marriage and divide the rest in half or in any way that you both feel is fair. If you are unable to do so, you can file a small claims case for return of property and the court will divide up the property.
  8. Recognize that whoever is named as the debtor on any debts will be the person who is legally responsible for the amount owed. It may be possible to go to small claims court and prove that a promise was made by the other party to pay some or all of the debt.
  9. Find out if your state allows palimony suits. These are cases that seek alimony by unmarried partners. You should talk to an attorney experienced in this area.

What States Honor Common-Law Marriages?

Only eight states and the District of Columbia unequivocally recognize common-law marriages. Others have laws that recognize some common-law marriages under special circumstances. In any state, the fact that a man and woman live together does not constitute a common-law marriage in and of itself. Couples must also “hold out” that they are married; they must be married in all respects but having taken out a marriage license and solemnized it with a ceremony. Generally, this means filing joint federal tax returns together, introducing themselves as husband and wife and using the same last name. States that recognize common-law marriages won’t let you end one without a legal divorce.

Cohabitation alone does not constitute a common-law marriage.
Common-Law StatesTexas, Alabama, Montana, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Rhode Island and South Carolina recognize and honor common law marriages. But in Texas, there’s a hitch: You have to register at your county courthouse as a common-law couple. Kansas doesn’t recognize common-law marriages if either spouse is younger than 18. None of these states have any time limit on how long you have to live together in order to be married by common law.

“Grandfathered” StatesSome states honor common-law marriages that are grandfathered-in. In Georgia, if you began your common law marriage before January 1, 1997, the state will recognize it. In Idaho, the cutoff date is January 1, 1996. Pennsylvania honors common-law marriages entered into before January 1, 2005. In Oklahoma, it’s November 1, 1998, and in Ohio, it’s October 10, 1991.

Atlanta, Georgia.
Other ExceptionsNew Hampshire recognizes common-law marriage only after one of the spouses has died. In that event, for probate purposes, a common-law spouse would stand to inherit just as a “regular” spouse would. Utah, similar to Texas, will recognize a common-law marriage if it has been validated by a court order.

New Hampshire.
Constitutional LawThe United States Constitution mandates that every state must recognize marriages entered into in other states, whether or not that marriage conforms to its own state law. Therefore, all states theoretically honor common law marriages to some extent. For instance, New Jersey is not a common-law state; the District of Columbia is. If a common-law couple contracted their union in Washington, D.C., then moved to New Jersey, New Jersey would recognize that common-law marriage. The state would not, however, honor any common-law couple who had always lived in New Jersey.

Marriage license.

What You Need To Know When Choosing A DUI Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with drinking under the influence you are going to need a good attorney by your side. If you have never been in trouble with the law before you may not know the first thing about choosing a DUI defense attorney. Well here are some tips to help you choose the best.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

Whether you are just a fraction over the limit of alcohol or you are a lot over the limit. If you have been caught drinking under the influence you are going to need representation. One of the first things that you should bear in mind is never be afraid to ask questions of any lawyer you are considering going with. There may be 101 questions going through your head and you shouldn’t worry that they may sound silly. A defense attorney will only be too willing to answer your questions and put your mind at rest.

Their Experience as A Defense Attorney

One of the first questions that you may want to ask any defense attorney that you are considering hiring is how long they have been practising. From here you will have an idea about how many years’ experience they have had.

Experience They Have In DUI Cases

Along with getting an idea as to how much experience they have you might also want to find out how much experience they have in dealing with DUI cases. Not all attorneys may specialise in DUI and you may not want to be the first case that they take on and “practice “on.

Find Out About Members Of The Team

Just because the person you speak to seems qualified in DUI don’t forget that more often than not there will be other members of the team working on the case. Therefore you might want to ask about other members who will be working on your case and make sure that they have experience in DUI cases too.

Be Totally Honest With the Attorney

One thing that you should always do is be totally honest with the attorney. If they are representing you trust is a big issue and you cannot start out by lying or withholding the truth from them. Also bear in mind that whatever you say to them should be safeguarded by attorney-client privileges.

Find Out Just How Much Representation Is Going To Cost

When taking on a DUI defense attorney you are going to want to know how much it is going to cost you. They should be able to give you an estimation and this estimation should include such as legal costs, experts, investigators and anything else related to your case.

Criminal Charges – The Initial Process Involved

If you or your loved one is facing any sort of criminal charges, then it is high time you get to know about criminal charges, how to file a criminal charge and other important aspects in detail. It is necessary that everyone posses the knowledge and understanding about the process of criminal case from the start.

What is a criminal charge?

A criminal charge is nothing but accusation made by authorities authorized by the government over those who have committed any sort of crime punishable under law. It is a form of written accusation posted against someone for doing an act or refraining from doing something put-forth by law. A criminal charge would be initiated if someone files a criminal case against a person. It could be the police or the victim of the specific problem.

When a person faces arrest

The police have the authority to arrest somebody if they have any sort of suspicion that the concerned person has committed a crime. A criminal offense could be major or minor and the police have the right to arrest them to carry on with further investigation. If the police finds substantial reason that the concerned person could have committed the crime after the investigation then the police would initiate further action. The next step to this would be to get warrant to initiate search and arrest.

Filing of charge

Not all arrests would end up with a charge being filed against the person. The prosecutor would review each and everything in detail and comes to a conclusion if a charge should be filed or not. In case, the chances are high that a charge would be filed against you after the arrest, it serves best to seek the help of a criminal defense attorney for professional support. The attorney would deal with any legal issues and would talk to the prosecutor before the filing of charges. A charge document comprises of several important legal documents which includes information, complaint, citation, traffic ticket and indictment.

Filing of a complaint

Anybody who thinks they are victims of a criminal offense can file a complaint with the police department in their respective jurisdiction. In case, the police refuse to accept a specific complaint, the victim can proceed to take it to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor would then be taking a look at the complaint and would decide if a charge be filed or not. Once the charge is filed, the case is ready for the pretrial stage where it is decided if the case should go on trial.

Episcopal Divorce Law

The Code of Canon Law of the Episcopal church governs divorce and remarriage of congregants. Under the current Code of Canon Law of the Episcopal church, divorce is not prohibited, although not encouraged. Following a divorce, there are certain requirements in order for a church member to remarry.

Principles of divorce law in the Episcopal church.


  • Episcopal divorce law dates back to the reign of King Henry VIII of England. In his attempts to end his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, King Henry broke from the Catholic Church and established a Christian church in England under his authority.


  • Proof of a church annulment or civil divorce must be provided. The clergy member performing the marriage must remind the divorced person of his obligation to be concerned for the well-being of a former spouse and children. The bishop must consent to the remarriage.

Time Frame

  • There is no set waiting period from the civil divorce or church annulment to the date of a remarriage under Episcopal divorce law.


  • Episcopal divorce law permits a congregant the ability to remain in communion with the church even upon a divorce and remarriage provided a lawful divorce occurs, a commitment is made to be concerned for the initial family and the bishop consents.

Famous Ties

  • Despite establishing the Church of England to divorce his first queen, divorce laws of his Church proved inadequate for King Henry VIII. Rather than divorce his second wife, Henry beheaded Anne Boleyn and his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

How to File for Common Law Divorce in Texas

Common-law marriage makes a couple who live together and hold themselves out as married, married in the eyes of the law even if the couple never had a wedding or obtained a marriage license. Texas is one of the few remaining states that recognize common-law marriage. In Texas, a divorce can be required to end a common-law marriage.

Ending a common-law marriage in Texas may not require a formal divorce.


  1. Determine whether you are in a common-law marriage. In Texas, there are two ways to enter into a common-law marriage: Filing a certificate with the court clerk stating that you are married under common law; or living together and holding yourselves out to the public as married. In the latter case, both parties must be 18 years of age, share an exclusive residence, hold themselves out as married and consider themselves married.
  2. Decide whether divorce is necessary. If you filed a certificate with the court, then divorce is required. If you entered into a common-law marriage incidentally (by living with someone and calling each other spouses), then divorce is not necessarily required under Texas law. However, if you have children or substantial property or assets with your common-law spouse, it is recommended that you file for divorce unless you can agree on the division and all obligations amicably.
  3. Hire an attorney if you do not wish to represent yourself. An attorney will be able to complete the appropriate forms, and negotiate a divorce settlement or custody agreement on your behalf. If necessary, a divorce attorney will go before the court and argue your side.
  4. Complete an Original Petition for Divorce and an Affidavit of Consent for your partner to sign stating he does not contest the divorce. Both forms are available online and directly from your local district court. There are several forms to choose from, depending on whether you have children and other factors. Fill in the questions on financial and custodial considerations. File the forms with your local district court and serve them on your partner. Attend court hearings to determine the appropriate division of your assets, and rights and obligations regarding children.
  5. Enter into a divorce agreement with your partner if you both do not wish to have the court decide the division of assets and the rights and obligations regarding children. If the agreement is not outlandish, the court will enter it as an order, making it enforceable in the future. This agreement may provide for alimony payments, child visitation, division of property and child support payments.

Government Procurement Fraud – Addressing Important Defenses

Government procurement fraud is an ongoing problem in the US. The Office of Inspector and the General, Small Business Administration (SBA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the DOJ have increased oversight on government contractors across the country. A substantial amount of government fraud cases surface in the SBA 8(a) Program or when contractors submit claims that are unsupported with the right documentation.

Procurement fraud schemes put small business owners and corporate executives in a position where harsh criminal and civil penalties can cause embarrassment, subjectivity to huge fines and prison time.

A Virginia man was sentenced to 16 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and major government fraud. He was also ordered to forfeit $1,065,103.90, representing his personal proceeds from the conspiracy.

US attorneys and the federal government have to prove certain elements to meet the burden of proof in a False Claims Act case. To support a case for fraud against the government, the agency has to prove the elements of the statute.

For example, under the False Claims Act, “[a]ny person who… knowingly presents” to the government “a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval” “is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000, plus 3 times the amount of damages which the Government sustains.” 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a).

“Knowingly” is defined as (1) “actual knowledge,” (2) acting “in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity” of information, or (3) acting “in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity” of information; no proof of specific intent to defraud is required.” Id. § 3729(b). The government must prove a violation of the False Claims Act by a preponderance of the evidence. Id. § 3731(c); Commercial Contractors, 154 F.3d at 1362.

Always support government contract claims with supporting documentation or truthful support.: The Court of Federal Claims typically finds that when you certify a claim, as required by 41 U.S.C. § 605(c)(1), that “the claim is made in good faith; that the supporting data are correct and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief; that the amount requested accurately reflects the contract adjustment for which the Contractor believes the Government is liable.”

Contract fraud cases under the False Claims Act are predicated under the simply statement of certification.
You must show proof of actions of good faith to avoid fraud.

Although a terrible position to be in, individuals and government contractors involved in white collar crimes have a few legal defenses they can use with the right criminal defense attorney can gather the relevant evidence.

For example, if you are defending a federal government contract fraud case, you have to show that the government has not met its burden of proof. By carefully assessing the evidence, a fraud defense attorney can seek to dismantle each of the above evidence.

Proactive measures to prevent government procurement fraud include developing proactive contractor ethics policies and train your staff. However, if litigation arises, developing a solid defense is essential.

For help in a government procurement fraud case, call the defense attorneys at Watson & Associates LLC. Call 1-866-601-5518.

How to Become a Canon Lawyer

Canon law is the coded law of the Roman Catholic Church. It has existed in some form since the early years of the church and was formally placed into code in the early 20th century. There is a fully formed court system that includes lawyers and judges. Most canon lawyers are priests, but some are lay people. Canon lawyers are a small group with few open positions that require significant specialized knowledge. The path to becoming one is challenging since only two schools in North America offer the required training.

The Vatican is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church


  1. Obtain an advanced degree in theology. A master’s, at minimum, is required for the only canon law program in the United States, at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. If you do not have the proper background, you will be required to take its two-year, First Cycle program.
  2. Develop a thorough understanding of Latin. Many church documents are written in Latin so a proper understanding of the language is needed. Latin is part of the First Cycle at The Catholic University of America.
  3. Apply to the canon law program at The Catholic University of America or at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. They are the only two schools for canon law in North America. You could also attend a school in another country, or in Rome.
  4. Take the two-year J.C.L. licentiate program or three-year J.C.D. doctoral program. The J.C.L. lets you practice law in the court system and teach canon law at seminary. The J.C.D. allows you to practice law and teach in canon law programs.
  5. Take and pass the required written/oral exam at the end of the J.C.L. program. There is no bar exam and membership to a state or national bar association, or separate law degree, is not required.

How to choose godparents for a Roman Catholic baptism

Selecting a godparent (or godparents – you may have either one godparent of either sex, or one male and one female godparent) for your child’s Roman Catholic baptism is not a trivial matter. In the Catholic Church, the godparent acts as the child’s sponsor, and is responsible for helping you raise your child in the faith, or even taking over the role of raising your child in the faith should you become incapacitated. The Catholic Church has a number of requirements that must be met in choosing a godparent, to ensure that the godparent is capable of fulfilling his or her role. This how-to will guide you through the process of picking a godparent for your child’s Roman Catholic baptism.

choose godparents for a Roman Catholic baptism


  1. Check whether or not your prospective godparent is a Catholic. According to the Code of Canon Law, the godparent must be a Catholic. A non-Catholic godparent is acceptable only if you have a Catholic godparent as well.
  2. Check whether or not the prospective godparent has received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. According to the Code of Canon Law, the godparent must have received these sacraments of initiation, and must also be a practicing Catholic who lives the life of faith.
  3. Check whether or not your prospective godparent is over the age of 16. According to the CCL, only those sixteen years of age or older are eligible as baptismal sponsors.
  4. Check whether or not your prospective godparent is the mother or father of your child (this is an easy one to check!). According to the CCL, the mother or father of the child being baptized is not eligible to be a godparent as well.
  5. Check whether or not your prospective godparent is willing and able to take a Baptismal Prepraration class. Many parishes require both parents and godparents to take such a class in order to be prepared for and fully understand their role as baptismal sponsors.

Why Was the English Common Law Important in the Development of the American Legal System?

The English Common Law, comprising customary rules that had been developed over the course of several centuries, forms the basis of many legal systems in the British Isles and in former British colonies, including the United States. While states like France, Germany and Italy rely on codified civil laws written in the Roman tradition, the unwritten common law became the basis for civil law in England and all other legal systems following English traditions.
The common law forms a vital part of the legal system, particularly in civil law.


  • The English Common Law can find its beginnings in the systems of unwritten customary law that were common among the Germanic tribes prior to their conversion to Christianity. In particular, English Common Law began with the customary laws of the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, all of whom had originated in modern Denmark and northern Germany, but invaded former province of Britannia following the Roman withdrawal from the island. These customary rules formed the basis of the English legal system, even after the Norman Invasion. As English criminal law began to take the form of written statutes, civil, procedural and administrative law continued to follow the ancient tradition of unwritten law inherited from the Germanic tribes. As England, and later Great Britain, colonized new lands, it exported this legal system to those places, along with its people.

American Common Law

  • Every one of the original 13 colonies that came to form the United States was organized under a legal system derived from that of their Britannic motherland. When the colonies declared independence, they nevertheless continued to follow in this tradition. As a result, English Common Law, as it had existed prior to the American Revolution, formed the basis for American civil, procedural and administrative law. However, since that time, the severance of American legal connections with England forced the development of a uniquely American Common Law.

Basic Characteristics

  • The common law is a law of precedent, building upon past decisions like the layers of an onion. These decisions tend to come in the form of judicial rulings, made where the statutory law has not otherwise provided. But even the very basis of the American judicial system, that questions of fact are decided by juries of free citizens, is itself inherited from the common law.

Legal Hierarchy in Federal Law

  • Within the context of United States federal law, there presently exists a hierarchy of laws that helps to cover every potentiality. At the top of the hierarchy is the Constitution — anything that contravenes it does not stand. Next are the statutory laws, the legal enactments of Congress, which are inferior to the Constitution but superior to common law. Finally, the common law, built upon centuries of judicial decisions, fills in for things not handled by the Constitution and statutes — but the common law is null whenever it disagrees with them where their provisions have relevance.

In State Law

  • Every state in the Union, with the sole exception of Louisiana (which operated under a civil code in the French tradition) has its own similar hierarchy of constitutions, statutes and common law. Due to the fact that the United States Constitution only delegates a finite number of powers to the federal government, these systems in the states tend to cover more cases than federal law. However, state laws of all types are inferior to federal law whenever Congress has exercised its constitutionally granted authority.

Common Law: Separation Agreement

Common-law marriages are unions recognized when two people share a dwelling for a period of time, have children together, or otherwise lead the lives of a legally married couple. There are legal stipulations to be determined if the couple decides to separate.

Legal rights need to be considered in any separation agreement

Do You Have a Common Law Marriage?

  • Before deciding if a common-law separation agreement is needed, a couple needs to determine if they have a common-law marriage. In the United States, only 15 states and the District of Columbia recognize common-law marriages. Canada does not recognize common-law marriages. Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Utah accept common-law marriages. Georgia, Idaho, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Ohio accept the marriages with tight stipulations. Generally, a common-law marriage is an arrangement between two people who agree to be married to each other, live together, and present themselves to others as husband and wife. Check state laws for specific state requirements.

Legal Aspect of Common Law Marriages

  • A union that is recognized as a common-law marriage must be regarded as a legal union. Divorce or separation proceedings must be handled as if the couple had been married by ceremony and acquired a marriage license. A court will make the final decision regarding the separation agreement in a common-law marriage.

Reasons for Separation

  • The decision to separate should not be taken lightly. When couples choose to separate before proceeding with divorce, they are attempting to work out details of divorce, such as alimony, child support and division of property. Separation can be a trial period preceding divorce. The court will treat a separation between common-law couples as a separation between legally married couples, since common-law couples need to acquire separation documents as a legally married couple.

Dividing Assets and Determining Visitation

  • Common-law spouses attempting to draft a separation agreement should obtain a lawyer, as the agreement is a legally binding document. Sometimes, couples who agree to seek a separation can agree between themselves on dividing assets and sharing the children’s time. Consulting a lawyer will assist separating couples in creating paperwork to legally finalize the division of their assets as a common-law couple.

How to Use an Irrevocable Common Law Trust

A trust is a fiduciary relationship with respect to property where an individual known as a settler transfers property to a trustee who then holds that property for the benefit of a named beneficiary. An irrevocable trust is a type of trust where the terms cannot be amended or revised by the trustee or beneficiary. Irrevocable trusts are typically used as an estate planning tool to financially provide for other family members.

How to Make an Irrevocable Trust

  1. Create a list detailing all of your assets.
  2. Make a list of all the individuals, known as beneficiaries, that you would like to receive your property or financial support through the trust. Keep in mind, however, that irrevocable trusts cannot be amended or changed in most instances. Also make sure to think of individuals who you wish to exclude from staking a claim in your estate.
  3. Identify who you want to act as trustee.
  4. Fill out an irrevocable trust form or solicit the help of an attorney in creating an irrevocable trust. Irrevocable trust forms can be purchased from online venues such as Seek the assistance of an attorney or trust preparer if necessary.
  5. Engage in additional steps that may be needed to fund your trust, such as transferring property ownership or bank accounts to the trustee.
  6. Visit a notary to have all documents notarized and witnessed.

Christian Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a written contract between an engaged couple in which both parties determine how to divide their possessions and savings in case of a divorce. While prenuptial agreements are increasingly popular in Europe and North America, Christian couples seeking a church wedding may find that such an agreement is frowned upon by their pastor and contravenes canon law in the Roman Catholic Church.

Prenuptual agreements may cause problems for Christians looking to marry.


  • The growing popularity of prenuptial agreements are closely tied to rising divorce rates in Europe and North America. Statistics released by the National Center for Health Statistics suggest that 43 percent of all American marriages end in divorce, and Christians are no exception when it comes to the prevalence of failed unions. The Barna Report, published in 1999, remains the most extensive study on divorce rates among major Christian denominations in the United States. According to these statistics, 34 percent of all Christians who characterize themselves as being nondenominational are divorced, while the figure for Baptists reached 29 percent. Divorce rates among Catholics and Lutherans stands at 21 percent.

Biblical Teachings

  • The Bible does not provide explicit teachings on prenuptial agreements, as these did not exist in the days of the Hebrew Scriptures or in New Testament times. Prenuptial agreements are modern legal contracts and while all 50 states in the United States permit them, American politicians in the early 20th century viewed such arrangements in a negative light and felt that they endangered the sanctity of marriage.

    While the Bible may not offer teachings on prenuptials, marriage is widely presented as a permanent covenant that may only be broken by death. While Malachi 2:16 suggests that Hebrew society frowned upon divorce, Matthew 19:6 talks about married couples joined together by God and notes that they must “not separate.”

Prenuptials and Catholicism

  • While prenuptial agreements are not banned outright in the Roman Catholic Church, canon and civil law do not permit the existence of such marital contracts in every instance out of concern that this will undermine the marriage. The Church believes that marital vows are permanent, while prenuptial agreements formally recognize that they may be temporal and that the lawful division of assets between separated spouses may be necessary. Parish priests ask all engaged couples whether they have signed a prenuptial agreement during their first meeting. If such an agreement exists, the priest is required to obtain a copy of this document and must send it to the Catholic Department for Canon and Civil Law Services, where church officials determine if a Catholic wedding may proceed.

    After obtaining a copy of the prenuptial agreement, the priest advises the engaged couple that they must put their marriage plans on hold until they receive a positive response from the Church. If the prenuptial agreement is rejected, the engaged couple must formally terminate their contract before a Catholic wedding may take place.

Christian Widows

  • While the Catholic Church prohibits couples from marrying if their prenuptial agreement focuses on the division of assets following divorce, Church officials are more lenient when dealing with widows and widowers seeking to remarry. If the widow’s main reason for a prenuptial agreement is to ensure that children from a previous marriage are guaranteed their inheritance, church officials will not require the termination of the marital contract. As such, those seeking a Catholic marriage must ensure that their prenuptial agreement determines the division of assets in the case of death and not because of divorce. Catholic Canon law allows for prenuptials only if the document serves to protect a third party, such as children or elderly dependents.


  • In contrast to the Catholic Church, Protestant denominations do not require engaged couples to disclose or rescind their prenuptial agreement. Yet mainstream Protestant churches do express concerns similar to those of Catholic priests that prenuptial agreements treat marriage as temporal. Conservative Christian organizations emphasize that a church marriage is a spiritual covenant rather than a legal contract. While contracts can be terminated and place limits on the responsibilities of both parties, a covenant is everlasting and all-encompassing. Canon law does not require Protestant pastors to turn to a higher church authority before performing a wedding for those with prenuptial agreements, but all ministers stress that marriage must be viewed as a permanent commitment.

What Is a Criminal Law?

Criminal law refers to a type of law that not only dictates a standard of expected behavior but also imposes sanctions or punishments if an individual fails to comply with that law. Criminal law is enforced by agents of the government.
What Is a Criminal Law?


  • The first code of law, which blended criminal and civil law into one canon of conduct, was developed by the ancient Sumerians. The Sumerians developed their code of law around 2100 B.C. The Code of Hammurabi is an example of an early code of law, one that combined criminal and civil law. Hammurabi was a Babylonian. It was not until the Normans invaded England that a separate code of criminal law was developed. From this early Norman code of criminal law, the criminal system and set of laws that exist in countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States is founded.


  • The primary function of a criminal law is to control and regulate the conduct of people living in society, of people living in a community. The theory behind criminal law is that if morality alone is not enough to motivate people to comply with the mores of a society, imposing sanctions and penalties on people who violate specific provisions of the law will provide such a motivation. Unlike civil law, which involves the private imposition of sanctions for violation, the penalties for a violation of criminal law are imposed by the state.


  • Criminal law can be divided into three general groups.
    First, there is felony criminal law. This is the most serious type of criminal law, focusing on the most significant type of crime. The penalties associated with committing a felony or breaking a criminal law classified as a felony, include prison time, large fines and, in some instances, a sentence of death.
    Second, a lesser type of criminal law is a misdemeanor. This involves a less serious crime but can still result in a jail sentence (usually less than a year) and fines.
    Finally, there is what is known as an infraction. This is a type of illegal conduct. However, some scholars do not classify it as a true crime. An example of an infraction is a ticket for a traffic infraction.


  • There are five intended effects of a criminal law. Retribution for the crime committed is one motivation of criminal law. A criminal law is also designed to provide deterrence. Third, a criminal law is intended to incapacitate a wrongdoer, to keep the person who is guilty of a crime segregated from the community to some degree for some period of time. Fourth, one of the effects associated with a criminal law is to allow a victim of crime to obtain an appropriate form of restitution. Finally, an effect of criminal law is to rehabilitate the wrongdoer with the goal that this person will not re-offend.


  • The theories that have developed around criminal justice generally and the application of criminal law specifically center on how the five intended effects should be balanced. For example, one of the theories is that society as a whole benefits if a criminal can be rehabilitated. Therefore, those individuals that espouse such a position believe the criminal justice system should focus on rehabilitation through the application of a criminal law. At the other extreme are those individuals who believe that the primary purpose of a criminal law should be retribution and punishment. In such an situation, the emphasis of a criminal law would be on sanctions and penalties.

Why Can’t You Wear Rosary Beads Around Your Neck?

You might have flipped on the television and noticed a fashion trend. A celebrity is making a public appearance with a rosary dangling around his or her neck but behaving in a way that does not quite match the purpose of the sacred object. While it is not uncommon to see the beads worn for show and glamor, such acts are discouraged by the Catholic Church. However, there are acceptable reasons to wear a rosary.

Rosary beads.

Church TeachingCatholic Church law does not ban the wearing of rosary beads for pious reasons and as a statement of faith. But sporting a rosary solely for secular purposes is considered inappropriate. The Church places a strong emphasis on praying and treating the rosary with reverence, faith and devotion to Jesus and the Virgin Mary. “Sacred objects, which are designated for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated reverently and are not to be employed for profane or inappropriate use even if they are owned by private persons,” according to the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law.

The Church places a strong emphasis on praying and treating the rosary with reverence.
HistorySaint Dominic popularized the rosary in the early 1200s as a tool against sin and heresy. Tradition holds that the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Dominic, giving him a beaded chain and instructing him to recite the rosary. However, Dominican theologian Fr. Ennio Staid has said that devotional prayers to Mary predated Saint Dominic but that the saint and the Dominicans were effective at promoting the rosary, according to the magazine “This Rock.”

Stained glass of the Virgin Mary.
Significance of the RosaryThe Catholic Church teaches that praying the rosary is praying the Gospel. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops states that the rosary “opens ourselves to the mystery of God’s love by focusing our attention on the scriptures.” In 2002 Pope John Paul II wrote in a letter called “The Rosary of the Virgin Mary” that the rosary is at the heart of Christian life, offering a “familiar yet fruitful spiritual and educational opportunity for personal contemplation, the formation of the People of God, and the new evangelization.”

The Catholic Church teaches that praying the rosary is praying the Gospel.
PrayerPraying the rosary requires recitation and meditation. Catholics pray what are known as five “decades,” which consist of five different meditations about the lives of Jesus and Mary and 10 “Hail Mary” prayers. An “Our Father” separates each set of Hail Marys. A decade ends by praying the “Glory Be.” The beads are used to keep track of the prayers.

Fun FactThe late Father Patrick Peyton is known as “The Rosary Priest” because of his devotion to promoting family prayer, especially the rosary. His Family Theater Productions created radio and later television programs featuring Hollywood stars, including Bing Crosby, Jimmy Stewart and Loretta Young, to advocate prayer and morals. Father Peyton’s slogan, “The Family that Prays Together Stays Together” became the motto of his cause.

Family in prayer.