Law in a democratic society

Judges walk from Westminster Abbey to the House of Parliament, London

Laws are made by the politicians we elect democratically – we may not agree with the law but there are democratic opportunities to change it.

In a democratic society someone charged with a crime has the opportunity to defend him/herself. Habeas Corpus applies – this means no one can be imprisoned unlawfully. He or she will be deemed innocent until proven guilty by a criminal court. Punishments traditionally reflect the seriousness of the crime. The most serious are those which involve violence and/or loss of life.

The causes of crime are complex. Poverty, parental neglect, low self-esteem, alcohol, and drug abuse can be connected to why people break the law. Some are at greater risk of becoming offenders because of the circumstances into which they are born.