Whether you’re looking to hire an attorney or simply curious about the law, it’s important to know the different kinds of laws there are and how they affect your life and the people around you. Once you have that knowledge, you can make more informed decisions and educate yourself about the laws in your area so that you’re never caught off guard by legal consequences. The following is a guide to some of the different kinds of laws there are and how they apply to us as citizens living in America.
1. Employment Law
The laws protecting workers include discrimination and harassment protection, wage-and-hour requirements, and healthcare and family leave benefits. Protecting workers is often a priority for the government, so many employment laws have strong backing. Any time you hire a new employee or make significant changes to your business (including layoffs), you should check local regulations in addition to federal law. If you don’t comply with state and federal employment laws, an employment lawyer can advise you how. It’s also wise to get legal help if you are facing charges from a lawsuit filed by an employee. Even if you think it would be difficult for someone to prove their case against you, consulting with an attorney early on will give you more insight into what your options are moving forward. Employment lawyers specialize in representing employers, but they also handle cases involving employees who feel they were treated unfairly or suffered workplace discrimination.
2. Criminal Law
If you’re criminally charged, your rights are protected by our criminal law system. For example, you have a right to an attorney if you can’t afford one yourself and a right against self-incrimination. Criminal cases can be very serious; in some cases, jail time is a possibility. Hiring an experienced criminal lawyer can help ensure that your rights are protected throughout the trial. You should also be aware that there are several different types of crimes, including misdemeanours and felonies. The type of crime you’ve been charged with will determine how long it takes for your case to go through court proceedings.
3. Intellectual Property
To protect your creative works, including music, artwork, and other intellectual property (IP), you may have to file for a copyright or patent. These types of IP are covered by law at both federal and state levels. Filing a patent on your invention can help prevent copycats from stealing your designs and ideas. It also lets anyone interested in purchasing one know that they’re dealing with an original piece. The process is not cheap—the application fee alone costs $130—but if you’ve created something truly unique, it could be worth it. If you do decide to go through with filing a patent, make sure you hire an attorney who specializes in patents; otherwise, you might end up spending more money than necessary on legal fees.
4. Copyright and Trademark law
Copyright law protects original works of authorship in tangible form. The original work is also referred to as a work of authorship; most commonly, these works are literary works (such as books or magazines), musical compositions (such as songs or symphonies), dramatic and choreographic works (such as plays and dances), pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works (such as paintings and drawings), motion pictures, sound recordings, and audiovisual compositions. This protection applies to works that have been published as well as works that have yet to be published. The goal of copyright legislation is to encourage individuals to create new works by guaranteeing them exclusive rights for a set length of time—usually between 50 and 100 years after their work is published.
5. Family Law
The law governs marriage, divorce, and family matters. Family law can also apply to domestic partnerships and issues involving guardianship or parenting time. These legal rules define family and outline rules for ending a marriage or other type of partnership, as well as establishing terms for custody (responsibility for raising children) or visitation rights when couples break up. In addition, laws cover child support and alimony payments, child abduction, child abuse, child neglect, paternity testing, prenuptial agreements (agreements signed before getting married), adoption procedures and requirements in your state. All states have some form of family law, but it differs by state. For example, some states recognize same-sex marriages while others do not. If you are going through a divorce or have questions about how these laws affect you, consult with an attorney specializing in family law.
Finally, Some attorneys work on contingency fees—meaning they will not charge you unless they win your case—but most charge hourly rates that vary widely depending on where you live and how much experience an attorney has had with similar cases.