Today was another day spent in the office. I'm learning a TON about how a law office works, as well as the scope of the types of cases Mr. David McDonald (the attorney in the office) works on.
Today the most interesting thing was learning about the difference between civil law and criminal law, in addition to the difference between neglegence, criminal neglegence, recklessness, and flat out criminal behavior. I came into this project knowing that I didn't know much about the law, but now I am learning that I knew a lot less than I think I did.
The first thing we talked about was civil and criminal law. It's fairly self explanitory, but basically criminal law is dealing with clients who have committed crimes (either prosecuting or defending them), where as civil law deals with a huge range of things--business law, family law, contract law, etc. We talked about how different lawyers specialize in different sections of the law as well. For instance David, who is a criminal defense attorney, works with every type of case besides aggrivated murder, because aggrivated murder cases often result in the death penalty. Other lawyers, however, can specialize in traffic infractions or other types of crime. The same goes for civil law--a lawyer can specialize in family law, business law, etc.
Then we talked about the range of severity in crimes. It's a little complicated, but here's what I understand about the various types of crime (these are all analogies that David gave me when explaining it to me, so hopefully I'll do them justice):
Let's say you live right next to a school. Every day, at 9 and 4, children walking to and from school make their way to class through your yard. They've been doing this for years, and you are well aware of it. You decide one day that you need to do some work with a chain saw outside, in the yard, where you know the children play, and a kid ends up getting hurt. The severity of the charge is determined by the following:
-Neglegence: You have just moved into the neighborhood, and don't know the pattern of the kids' travel or the times they pass through your yard. You do your yard work at 12, not expecting anybody to be there. You leave the chain saw to go answer the phone, and somebody gets hurt. This is a neglegent crime.
-Criminal Neglegence: You know the pattern and times that the kids walk through your yard. You are working in the yard at noon, not expecting kids to be passing through the yard since school is in session. You leave the chain saw to answer the phone, and somebody walks through and gets hurt. This is criminal neglegence.
-Recklessness: It's 9am when you know the kids normally walk through your yard to get to school. You look and see the kids are a ways away from your yard and decide its okay to leave the chain saw in the yard and go answer the phone. A child gets hurt. You are charged with reckless behavior.
-Crime: If you see kids coming your way, deliberately hide the chain saw, at 9am when you know a crowd will pass by, and go answer the phone intending to hurt someone, you have commited a crime.
I learned a lot today and continue learning a lot of terminology which I'm really enjoying. Hopefully I got all of the above correct. Also, again, so sorry for any spelling errors. I know I'm not the best speller and this site doesn't have spell check! I did learn how to spell "attorney" since my last post though...so I'm improving! :)