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DUI in California

There is no such thing as an open and shut California DUI case... there just isn't. The prosecution could charge you with driving with a BAC of. 20%, causing an accident, and being so drunk that you could barely stand, let alone drive a car.

And yet even assuming these facts are true... which they typically aren't... there are still a number of DUI defenses that could result in reduced or even dismissed DUI charges. This is why is it always critical to consult with an experienced California DUI defense attorney before making the decision to plead guilty.

20 Ways to Beat Your California DUI Charges

1. California DUI breath testing is subject to a wide variety of errors

California DUI breath tests are subject to a wide range of errors. These include (but are not limited to)

instrument malfunction,
improper handling by the police,
your physiological conditions (such as GERD or your diet, both of which are discussed below), and even
outside environmental factors (such as radio frequency interference, which is also described below).

While DUI breath testing is the most common way to measure one's BAC, it's not always an accurate one. This is because of the fact that a DUI breath test doesn't directly measure the amount of alcohol in your blood. It measures the amount of alcohol present in your breath and then converts that amount to determine the amount of alcohol in your blood. As a result, DUI breath testing is susceptible to a variety of outside influences that can generate an erroneously high BAC reading.

2. Mouth alcohol can alter the accuracy of your California DUI breath test

DUI breath testing instruments are designed to capture a sample of breath from your deep lung tissue (otherwise known as "alveolar air"). When residual alcohol lingers in the mouth... either because
dental work trapped small amounts of alcohol-soaked food in your teeth,
you burped or regurgitated, or
you suffer from GERD, acid reflux or heartburn (discussed below)...

the breath test instrument captures "mouth alcohol" rather than simply aveolar air. As a result, mouth alcohol can trigger a falsely high BAC reading on a California DUI breath test.

3. Medical conditions such as GERD, acid reflux, and/or heartburn can contaminate your DUI breath test results

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (more commonly referred to as "GERD"), acid reflux, and heartburn are all recognized medical conditions that create possible mouth alcohol situations. This is because these conditions produce a flow of acid that travels from the stomach into the mouth.

When this occurs just prior to or during a DUI breath test, the alcohol that travels from your stomach to your mouth disguises the deep lung air that the breath testing instrument is intended to measure. As a result, GERD, acid reflux, and/or heartburn can cause a falsely high BAC on a California DUI breath test.

4. A low-carbohydrate, high-protein Atkins-style diet or conditions such as diabetes or hypoglycemia can trick a DUI breath test and result in a false high BAC

Self-imposed conditions such as Atkins-style diets and medical conditions such as diabetes and hypoglycemia are actually capable of self-producing isopropyl alcohol. This is because bodies that are deprived of carbohydrates turn to stored fat for energy. This process produces ketones. Ketones, when eliminated from the body through breath and urine, convert into isopropyl alcohol.

The problem... with respect to DUI breath testing... is that most California DUI breath testing instruments aren't sophisticated enough to distinguish between this self-produced isopropyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol (the type of alcohol that we drink). As a result, Atkins-style diets or diabetes or hypoglycemia can trick a DUI breath testing instrument into producing a falsely high BAC. Similarly, diabetes can fool the breathalyzer and should be considered as a DUI defense.

5. "Rising Blood Alcohol" can mean your BAC was higher when you took the test than when you were actually driving

Alcohol takes a certain amount of time (typically between 50 minutes and three hours) to absorb into your system. If, for example, you had just recently finished drinking... and were investigated for DUI shortly thereafter... your alcohol may not have reached its peak absorption rate. When this is the case, your blood alcohol level is still rising, which can cause a false high DUI BAC result.

This is because your BAC at the time of your blood or breath test is irrelevant... what is relevant is what your BAC is at the time of driving. Just because you have a BAC that is above the legal limit when you submit to a DUI chemical test, does not mean that's what your BAC was at the time of driving... particularly if you were "on the rise".

Prosecutors like to assume that everyone is beyond their peak absorption phase when they submit to California DUI chemical testing. We know, however, that this isn't always the case and that rising blood alcohol is a very legitimate DUI defense. This "on the rise" defense applies to both DUI blood testing and DUI breath testing.

6. California DUI blood testing does not necessarily offer accurate readings

There are a variety of factors that could taint the results of your DUI blood test results:

Blood fermentation,
improper storage of your blood sample, and
blood contamination
are just a few of the reasons why your blood tests results might not be accurate. This is why we say that California DUI blood testing certainly isn't foolproof.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the collection and storage of your DUI blood test, your California DUI defense lawyer may be able to have your BAC results excluded from evidence. If your BAC is suppressed, your charge under Vehicle Code 23152b driving with a BAC of at least 0.08% must be dismissed.

7. Violations of Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations can compromise your BAC results

Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations sets forth the requirements for collecting, storing, and analyzing DUI chemical tests. These regulations are very specific, and any violation of California's Title 17 can compromise your DUI BAC results.

This means that if, for example,

it's not a trained technician who draws your DUI blood sample, or
if the DUI breath testing instrument that you use hasn't been calibrated according to code,
your BAC could be excluded from evidence... or at the very least, its accuracy will be called into question.

8. If the officer didn't have probable cause to stop, detain, or arrest you for DUI, the evidence--and the case--may get thrown out of court

Before the police can

stop your car,
detain you to conduct a DUI investigation, or
arrest you for a California DUI,
they must have a reasonable suspicion or reasonable belief that you are engaged in criminal activity. This reasonable belief is a legal standard known as probable cause.

If an officer doesn't have the probable cause necessary before engaging in any one of these stages, any evidence that is obtained as a result of that illegal procedure will be suppressed. When a judge suppresses evidence, it means that the prosecution cannot use it against you. As a result, evidence obtained without probable cause usually results in reduced or dismissed California DUI charges.

9. The officer didn't advise you of your Miranda rights

Despite common misperception, Miranda rights aren't always required in a California DUI arrest. They are, however required when (1) you have been arrested, and (2) the officer is conducting a custodial interrogation. A "custodial interrogation" takes place when an officer asks you questions designed to solicit incriminating responses after you have been arrested.

If these conditions have both been satisfied, the officer must advise you of your Miranda rights or risk having any subsequent statements excluded from evidence. Depending on the significance of those statements, their exclusion could result in reduced or dismissed DUI charges.

10. There are innocent explanations for physical signs and symptoms of DUI

Most likely, the officer will claim that you exhibited

red/watery eyes,
a flushed face,
slurred speech,
an unsteady gait, and
had the odor of an alcoholic beverage on your breath.

Whether or not this description is accurate, the fact is that none of these signs or symptoms necessarily means that you are DUI.

And even if you were drinking, these characteristics don't in and of themselves indicate that you were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Additionally, innocent explanations such as

the sun,
physical injury,

can explain the physical signs and symptoms that are commonly associated with DUI.

11. California field sobriety tests ("FSTs") aren't accurate indicators of alcohol and/or drug impairment

Even the most reliable California field sobriety tests aren't accurate indicators of alcohol and/or drug impairment. The three tests that have actual data to support their trustworthiness are only between 65-77% accurate at detecting impairment... and that's only if they are precisely administered and scored (which is rarely the case).

And just like the innocent explanations that can account for physical signs of impairment, these same explanations can explain poor performance on FSTs. Additionally, factors such as

officer-induced intimidation,
bad weather conditions,
poor lighting,
uneven surface conditions, and
awkward footwear, such as boots, dress shoes or high heels

that have nothing to do with alcohol and/or drugs can cause an individual to "fail" his/her field sobriety tests.

12. DUI isn't the only explanation for bad driving

While the police like to think that all bad drivers must be DUI, we know this isn't the case.

Weaving, speeding, and even erratic driving are often a result of inattention or distraction. Maybe you were eating, trying to play a CD, or trying to pick up something that dropped, or distracted by your passengers.

The bottom line is that DUI isn't the only explanation for bad driving. The reality is that sober people exhibit moments of bad driving just as impaired drivers.

13. Just because your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over the legal limit doesn't mean you were necessarily DUI

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is affected by many different factors, not just the actual amount of alcohol in one's body. These factors include (but are not limited to):

errors in California DUI chemical testing equipment,
errors in obtaining your DUI blood, breath, or (when appropriate) urine sample,
your medical conditions, and
when you finished drinking alcohol.

Each of these factors can independently affect the accuracy of your BAC results, so don't let the number fool you... an illegal BAC doesn't necessarily mean you are guilty of DUI.

14. There are inherent error rates with California DUI chemical testing

Even assuming that all testing conditions are perfect... the testing equipment has been properly maintained and calibrated, and there aren't any physiological conditions that could adversely affect the test... there is still an inherent error rate with California DUI chemical testing.

Experts agree that California DUI chemical testing has a +/- error rate of between 0.005-0.02%. As a result, a California DUI defense attorney can challenge BAC results that are between 0.08-0.10%, since they could be lower than the minimum 0.08% required by Vehicle Code 23152b driving with a BAC of at least 0.08%.

15. California DUI sobriety checkpoints must adhere to specific legal requirements

If you were arrested at a DUI roadblock, there are a variety of issues that a California criminal defense attorney will investigate. California DUI sobriety checkpoints must adhere to very strict legal requirements... if they don't, you could be falsely arrested for DUI.

These legal requirements relate to the operation of the DUI checkpoint. Some examples include (but are not limited to):

having supervising officers organize and oversee the checkpoint,
making sure that the field officers follow a predetermined formula for stopping cars, and
publicly advertising the DUI roadblock.

If/when these requirements aren't satisfied, a California DUI defense attorney can effectively challenge your DUI arrest and subsequent charges.

16. Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) can contribute to a falsely high BAC result

Radio frequency interference ("RFI") can cause a California DUI chemical blood or breath test to produce an erroneously high BAC. This is because almost all electronic devices... such as those used to analyze DUI blood and breath samples... are susceptible to RFI or EFI (electromagnetic interference).

The electronic components in these instruments can be affected by nearby radio waves. Radio transmission from

patrol cars,
the automatic door-unlocking devices found in crime labs,
cell phones,
fluorescent lights, etc...

these are just a few examples of the types of equipment that are capable of interfering with DUI blood and breath testing results.

17. If you're not exhibiting signs of mental impairment, chances are you aren't DUI

With respect to alcohol and/or drugs, there are two types of impairment: mental impairment and physical impairment. Most of the impairment that officers claim people exhibit during California DUI investigations is physical. Officers routinely testify that those arrested for drunk driving exhibit

an unsteady gait,
poor coordination,
red/watery eyes, and
slurred speech.

However, experts agree that alcohol and/or drug-related impairment always presents itself in the form of mental impairment first. This means that if an officer testifies that you displayed physical but not mental impairment, your alleged impairment was unrelated to alcohol and/or drug use. As a result, if you weren't exhibiting signs of mental impairment, you probably weren't DUI.

18. Your DUI BAC doesn't accurately reflect your level of impairment

If a significant discrepancy exists between your BAC and your alleged level of impairment, something is wrong. This may be the case where you either (1) reportedly exhibited no impairment, or (2) exhibited even slight impairment, but your BAC was high... by even as much as two or three times the legal limit.

When this type of situation occurs (sometimes referred to as a "disconnect" case), and your DUI BAC doesn't accurately reflect your alleged level of impairment, the evidence can't be trusted... something just doesn't add up.

19. You weren't driving

It isn't enough for the police to prove you were under the influence... the crime is driving under the influence. If, for example,

you were involved in an accident and no one saw you driving the car, or
if the police found you when you were in your parked car,
it will be more difficult for the prosecution to prove one of the key elements of a DUI: that you drove. If the D.A. can't prove that you were driving, you can't be convicted of a California DUI. The "no driving" DUI defense should be considered anytime the police didn't actually see you operating the vehicle. And finally...

20. Even if you were DUI, police misconduct may absolve you of your DUI charges

If you can demonstrate police misconduct, then your DUI charges may have to be dismissed... even if you were actually guilty of DUI. This is because proper police procedures must be followed. For example,

DUI police reports must be accurate,
Title 17 procedures must be complied with, and
courtroom testimony must be truthful.

If these (or any other) conditions are purposely manipulated, evidence that was illegally obtained or fabricated will be suppressed. Depending on how severely this impacts the prosecutor's case, he/she may choose to reduce or even dismiss your charges.
By Mark Girdner

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Criminal Law Explained For Anyone

Criminal law is the set of rules that the government has decided on, setting forth acts that are considered dangerous to human life as opposed to civil law, which is generally less violent and dangerous. These would include threats of harm, bodily injury and lewd sexual acts. It determines not only the crime but also the punishment. In many cases, the punishment is decided upon in a way that fits the crime that was committed. In other cases, the punishment is already mandated by state or federal law. Civil matters and white collar crimes are handled by separate divisions.

The enforcement of these laws is done at the state level. At one time, both penal and civil law were considered together but today they are separate and distinct. Crimes of this violent and offensive nature are separated because they hold very serious consequences when the law is broken.

Each different type of crime has its own unique characteristics, elements that separate it from other crimes. The most serious of crimes will be punished by death or capital punishment. Physical punishment, like caning, has been prohibited in much of the world, although it is still practiced in some places.

Generally, even for these very serious crimes, the punishment is incarceration or jail time. The increments of time served in jail will depend on the crime and can be anywhere from an hour to a lifetime. The sentence will always depend on the crime.

Some judges will hand down a sentence that allows parole or probation. Parole is when the government allows a convicted felon to live outside the prison after they have served a satisfactory amount of time behind bars. They would then be on probation, which is the supervision that the government will keep over the ex-inmate until such time as they are deemed fit to live among normal society without being watched for criminal activities.

Many times there will be fines imposed for acts of crime. People can have their homes and property seized to pay for these fines, even if they are serving time in prison, as well.

There are five objectives to enforcing these laws. They are retribution, incapacitation, restitution, rehabilitation and deterrence. The main objective is left up to the differing opinions of the community governments and judges that pass down sentences. They will determine which one fits the particular situation. Retribution is usually the main objective. It stands for making the criminal pay for his actions. They have committed their crime and they must pay for it in some way. This is the eye for an eye effect.

Incapacitation is a goal for judges who need to keep this person away from everyone else so that they can no longer be a threat. This usually consists of jail time or death. Restitution is taking from them and giving to their victims or government, usually monetarily through fines. Rehabilitation is often encouraged in civil matters but it is generally accepted that violent criminals will have a difficult time with it. The final of these objectives of criminal law is deterrence. This can be done on an individual or group level. Deterrence focuses on imposing fees or other penalties on someone or a group of people in order to keep others from committing the same act.

A pardon is the forgiveness of a crime and the penalty associated with it. Find out how to obtain Canadian pardons [http://www.pardons.ca] and U.S. Entry Waivers.

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Asylum Law In The United States

Asylum law is a general term that applies to any person or group who is victimized in their home country and flees to another country or state to escape. Since the Second World War, one of the most prolific admitters of asylum seekers has been the United States. Since 1980, over two million refugees alone have been admitted to the United States.

As one of ten countries accepting asylum seekers and refugees currently in 2006, they have outdone their fellow countries by accepting double the amount of refuges, more than any other participating country to date.

The United States follows international and federal laws regarding asylum, and fully one tenth of asylum seekers have also been refugees admitted into the US. The United State's practices regarding asylum are set out in a convention from 1951 called the 'Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.' Later in 1980, this convention was broadened when congress passed the 'Refugee act of 1980.'

According to its protocols, a person is defined as a refugee if they have fled to the US because of the fear or enactment of persecution on protected ground in their home country or a home state that didn't or couldn't offer protection.

The laws regarding asylum are enforced by the attorney general and are awarded on the basis of the criteria mentioned above; fear of recrimination for gender or sexual prejudice is included as well. The defendant must establish, however, that they are indeed a victim of persecution in their home country to the satisfaction of the grantor.

Each year, the US sets a 'refugee ceiling' which is the number of refugees they'll permit to immigrate into the US for the duration of that year. The number is subject to the discretion of the government and is usually the focus of anti-immigration groups and pro-refugee lobbyists alike, the former seeking to lower the number and the latter seeking to raise it higher.

There are two different applications potential asylum seekers or refugees must complete; one is the 'Application for Resettlement by Refugees Abroad' and the other is the 'Application for Asylum by Refugees in the United States.'

MyAbogado.com is a popular legal directory that helps users locate legal professionals across the country while providing the legal community and litigation support providers with a low cost method to market their services to other professionals and members of the public across the country.


What Is Asylum Law?

Asylum law is another law that has been around, literally, for ages. It simply outlines the situations in which an individual or group is persecuted by their home country for their beliefs or politics, usually dissenting form the current regime in their country, and who then takes asylum under the protection of a sovereign authority, such as another country.

Asylum law is not refugee law; asylum law concerns the right of asylum as opposed to refugee law, which concerns huge group of people coming into a country. Most often, the seekers of asylum, or protection, are often considered rebels or dissidents in their own countries and are not safe, so they migrate to a different country that offers them protection. However, the two do sometimes overlap, as a refugee may demand to be treated as an asylum case, and is sometimes granted that right.

Asylum law has general legalities surrounding it, but like any other type of law, it really functions on a case-by-case basis. More recently, treaties called "extradition treaties" have been signed by numerous countries giving the home country of the asylum-seeker the right to demand their return, and the asylum-giving country, according to such a treaty, would have to oblige.

However, though these treaties may be signed between nations, international law still says that a country does not have to surrender the asylum-seeker, often considered a criminal in their home country, to their country of origin. This is directly because of the principles defining a sovereign state, wherein the people or within the borders of a sovereign state are subject to the sovereign state's authority.

Asylum law is different in each nation, and some may be stricter than others. Because of its nature and the important role sovereign states play in asylum laws, different countries may vary widely in how they put the law into effect.

MyAbogado.com is a popular legal directory that helps users locate legal professionals across the country while providing the legal community and litigation support providers with a low cost method to market their services to other professionals and members of the public across the country.

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Rights, Rights, and More Rights

Rights, rights and more rights. Rights for some, rights for all, denied rights, new rights, old rights, universal rights, equal rights. You would think that with all the public chatter about rights we would have a better understanding of rights; what they are and what they are not, and exactly where they come from.

In fact, there are no such things as rights. The common notion that we are born with some universal baggage, called rights, is nonsense. There is no right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. From wars and disease and famine, to accidents and crimes, to abortion, to self-destruction by any number of means, people die against their wills by the thousands every day. The liberty and happiness we all hope to enjoy is as much an exception as most believe it to be the rule. The current destruction of life, liberty, and happiness, worldwide, should be enough to convince anyone of the fallacy of our current concept of rights.

Much of our social interaction is founded on tolerance; specifically the tolerance or intolerance of each other's behavior. Tolerance, when it is universally taught and accepted, is called a right, and for many it has its own separate existence apart from social structure. Tolerance is not separate from any social structure. In fact, our limits of or refusal to limit behavior define our social structure. Tolerance belongs to the community or the state, not to the individual, and therefore there are no such things as individual rights. While community rights (tolerance) change with every new law.

So rights as they are described in today's societies are really just the types of behavior that are to be tolerated by all. Any behavior that interferes with the tolerable behavior of others is itself not to be tolerated (not a right). One fundamental purpose for constituting governments is to establish and enforce rules of social and economic behavior, since we come into the world without rights to protect us from the possible abuse of others.

The fundamental principle of government, from our primitive civilizations to that of Galactic governments is found in all cultures and all histories, and simply stated is, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." No person can be free who does not live by this principle. No society can enjoy domestic tranquility if any of its citizens fail to adhere to this principle. No government can endure that does not enforce this principle. We are obligated to obey and uphold this fundamental principle at all times. It should not be the focus of our social interactions to say that we have individual rights. It is more important that we recognize our social obligation to support society's rules and communal liberty over any individual liberty.

Some members of every society do not live by this principle, and are given to interfering with the tolerable behavior of others, so some restrictions on social behavior must be established and enforced.

The inversion of the above fundamental principle is the foundation of past social revenge; "An eye for an eye, a life for a life . . ." To deny another person of liberty, means you accept that you may have your liberty denied. To deny another person of life means you accept that you may be denied life. Any act that a person may commit that transgresses the accepted laws of behavior denies that person protection from societal revenge.

It is common in our society to hear reference made to the work of the courts as dispensing justice. Whenever we agree with the ruling of a court, we say justice has been done. But the courts cannot dispense justice, because justice is not something that can be dispensed. Justice can be done, but not by the courts. Justice exists in a society only when the laws are obeyed, because we do justice to each other when we obey the laws.

When the laws are obeyed domestic tranquility is established in society. Justice and Domestic Tranquility are really the same concept, adherence to established law. To understand one, is to understand the other, because each is a definition of the other.

The inverse of justice is injustice. When someone transgresses the laws, thereby destroying the domestic tranquility, we say an injustice has been done. All transgressions of the law can be generalized as a breach of the peace. This is not said to equalize or trivialize all crime, but instead to point to the collective relationship of all our acts toward each other, as being acts that affirm domestic tranquility, or acts which breach the peace. With our multitude of laws there are no real gray areas of social behavior. Our actions both defend the community structure and maintain the domestic tranquility, or they violate the established law by attacking the community, trying to usurp its powers and defeat its social order.

So where do the courts come in? If no laws are transgressed, then no police or courts are necessary. However, since laws are often broken, we have contrived a system whereby we take collective social revenge upon the persons who commit these injustices. We do this through our police, courts, and prisons. Courts cannot dispense justice, but they can dispense revenge in one manner or another by restricting or denying the freedom to live and work in society. If this revenge or punishment is dispensed in such a manner that society is guaranteed that no further transgressions will be committed, then we may say that society has been returned to a state of domestic tranquility. However, if the courts fail to ensure the proper behavior of those brought before them; if there is little or no revenge sought against those that destroy the domestic tranquility; if there is no guaranteed rehabilitation; then the courts are aiding and abetting future crimes, committing an injustice of their own by preventing society from re-establishing domestic tranquility. Such failure in the courts will lead society away from the fundamental principle of government into a state of anarchy. If we fail to revenge ourselves as a society, we will do it individually. This would be anarchy, and would destroy our social structure.

After the alarm has sounded in the community that a crime has been committed, what are we told to think? "Innocent until proven guilty." Our social-judicial system does not operate under the principle "innocent until proven guilty." In the area of civil law where many frivolous suits are filed, and where degrees of liability are difficult to estimate without legal expertise, we may accept that the defendant is innocent until proven liable; but in criminal law we hire or elect legal expertise in the form of prosecutors to investigate, charge, and prosecute those whom they have sufficient evidence to charge with criminal behavior. The prosecutors are our representatives in the legal system. If they bring charges against someone, it is because they believe that person to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We hire these experts to formulate knowledge of criminal activity, based on factual evidence. If we are to believe the accused to be innocent, then we must believe that our court representatives are either corrupt or incompetent in pursuing the prosecution of innocent people. Though there are instances when officials are corrupt or incompetent, and instances when innocent people are put in prison or worse, these circumstances occur very seldom as compared to the great number of prosecutions ongoing. If the vast majority of criminal prosecutions end in conviction of the accused as being guilty as charged, then the idea that a person should be considered innocent (not guilty) after they have been charged, is ridiculous.

Common sense demands that we support, intellectually and socially, those whom we have hired to represent and enforce our social structure. Criminals and their counselors are defeating our society as a system of law and order. When criminals violate the liberty and property of others, they are making war upon society, trying to defeat the law and order that bind societies. They are much more the enemy of society than foreign armies.

When we are charged with a felony crime against other persons or property, the court requires that we post bail to gain temporary freedom; we are guilty in the eyes of the court even if no other bias is ever shown. At trial, evidence is then presented to the court and a jury, which will then proclaim to society our guilt or innocence. In many cases bail is denied because a judge not only perceives considerable evidence toward guilt, but may also consider the defendant likely to flee from the community to avoid the consequences of being found guilty by a jury. Certainly guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and should never be assumed, especially if no charges are brought against persons except community gossip, hearsay, and fabrication. But when charges are brought, evidence is presented, and indictments handed down from a court, innocence must likewise be proven, if it is truly the case.

Actions in court are not supposed to be a competition of diverging beliefs communicated to the public for the purpose of establishing majority opinion. But rather a merging of testimony and facts, to arrive at the truth that society requires to re-establish domestic tranquility. A mature way to view these concepts in relation to a person charged with a crime is to realize that neither guilt nor innocence applies to a defendant that has been duly charged, until a jury has made a determination.

We sometimes fail to understand that tolerance, which we claim as necessary for ourselves may also be claimed by others, but for their own selfish ends. And that tolerance we would deny others may also be denied to ourselves, with or without due process. There is no law of self-preservation that is part of any social structure, as some would have us believe. The sacrifices made daily to save other persons and property at the peril of life and limb; the many instances of heroic bravery in wars; the lifelong sacrifices of one's comfort and leisure, so that one's children will be better fed, clothed and educated; are proof that we recognize sacrifice to be more noble than self interest. The coward runs from battle to preserve himself. The criminal preys on society for property and money, so that he may preserve himself. The profligate abandons morality and social responsibility to serve himself. Self-preservation only succeeds in destroying social structures. Anarchy knows no peace and guarantees no trust. The tolerance we require, we must also offer; and the social discipline we expect of others, we must also be willing to uphold.

To demonstrate that self is becoming the root cause of our social declension, consider the story from olden times about a survivor of the judgment of Sodom and Gomorra. As the story goes, this survivor was discovered by a caravan, living near the ruins of Sodom. Surveying the destruction all about them, the leader of the caravan exclaimed to the survivor that he must have truly feared the Law of God to have been spared. The survivor replied, "I was not spared because I feared the Law of God, I was spared because I loved the Law of God and I obeyed the Law because of that love and what it means; those who obey the Law are free from the Law." The selves of today are more and more disposed to abandon the principle of community and the preservation of family and society above the preservation of self. The transgressors of the law fear the laws, because they fear society taking social revenge against them, preventing them from doing their particular forms of anarchy and oppression. An important fact of most criminal behavior is that criminals have consciously chosen before hand to abandon their social obligations to support and protect society, and instead have chosen to prey on society without regard to the often-tragic consequences. And yet the increasing numbers of these transgressors, who continually use the current court system to evade accountability, is burying us. They offer excuses for inexcusable behavior, citing their demand to be treated and forgiven according to an established body of law, which they would gladly have destroyed, were it in their power to do so. They exhaust our resources and our access to the courts to deal with less serious transgressions. The criminal justice system is forced to barter with the flood of criminals, in hopes of redirecting behavior by threat rather than by restriction and education.

The majority of citizens have grown up in a society that offers them education and opportunity to labor and contribute to the needs of others. Currently less than half of our population is employed in productive labor, yet we enjoy an abundance of goods and services. We have constructed a penal system that maintains hundreds of thousands of people incarcerated at a very large expense to our society. These people are not put to productive and rehabilitative labor to ensure that they are not a continuing burden on society. They are not coerced to expand their education and skills, to be truly rehabilitated. A population of relatively young men and women, without financial obligations to themselves, their families or victims, should be put to work supporting the prison systems that must maintain their separation from society, until they learn to uphold and promote the community. Rather than being a burden to society, prisons should be fully self-supporting and able to offer help to the victims of crime.

Rights are not things, but instead are the fundamental behaviors that consensus tells us should be tolerated by all members of society. This leaves very little room for selfishness and no room for oppression. The fallacy of civilization is that it has declined from Ten Commandments, into legal libraries containing hundreds if not thousands of books on law (behavior); rather than inclining toward the Fundamental Principle of Government, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!"

There are acceptable behaviors and unacceptable behaviors, which must be learned and passed on to each generation. Failure to learn will result in failure to teach, which will result in failure of social cohesion. The use of the word "rights" will most certainly continue in reference to our behavior; but the personalizing and directing toward self will only continue to confuse our interactions. As individuals we expect toleration of our actions, but that toleration comes from the community, or state, or world, and therefore belongs to the structure of the community, or state, or world. It does not belong to the individual.
Sincerely Craig D. Hanks
Eugene Oregon
The above article is chapter 15 in my book SOCIAL BENCHMARKS. Additional excerpts from this book and a link to purchase may also be viewed at http://beyondfarenough.blogspot.com/

Growth and Development of International Law

International law in an area that has been of great importance in recent times as it regulates the relations of States, IGO's, NGO's and individual persons in their dealings with one another. International law as it is seen in modern times has gone through several developmental states to achieve its present status. There have been several modifications in the scope and subjects of international law as time passes by.

This article divides the growth and development of international law into four main phases. The first phase starts with the peace agreements that was made in Europe after the thirty years war, followed by the second phase with begins after the first Word War and then the third phase which begins after the Second World War and finally the last phase which refers to the aftermath of the Second World War till date. The last part of the article looks at the future of international law and it does this by situating the future of international law in the question as to whether international law is dying or not.

Key Words
International relations
United Nations


The interaction among countries is regulated by international laws and customs and it is for this reason that international law serves a great purpose as far as the international interaction among states is concerned. No country can leave in isolation without depending on other countries for raw materials, national resources, and technological know-how among others and hence there is the inevitable need for countries to depend on one another for survival. This interaction and to a large extent trade relations among member countries, therefore, needs to be guided by some laws which will help to ensure that such interactions are on a peaceful basis with without chaos or possible violence in the international system and hence its essence in contemporary times. Laws that governs relations among states, IGO's, NGO's and individual has developed from one stage to the other with significant improvements and changes in their scope and applicability.

Definition of international law
International law was first developed to govern the relations among sovereign countries and as such it was referred to as The Law of Nations. That is to say that a set of rules and regulations meant to regulate the relations among sovereign and civilized states with their dealings and activities among themselves.
This is a narrow definition and viewed by scholars as the traditional definition of international law. Obviously, there are a lot of grey hairs in this definition of international law as it is difficult to determine which state is civilized and which state is not and more importantly, the scope and subjects of international law have in modern times widened to govern the relations of not only sovereign states but that of Non-Governmental Organizations, International Governmental Organizations, and even individual persons as well.

With the proliferation of Non-Governmental organizations (NGO's) most probably after the WWII as well as the business transactions, agreements and contract among persons, the scope, and definition of international law have widened to cover, NGO's and even persons as well. In modern times it is defined as a body of rules and principles that govern the relations among States, International Governmental Organizations (IGO's), NGO's as well as individual persons in the relations among each other (Egede & Sutch, 2013). This definition of international law is mostly referred to as the modern definition as it expands the scope and focus of international law.

Growth and development of international law
The expansion and development of international law can be divided into four main phases:

The first Phase
The first and perhaps most important phase in the development and expansion of international law began with the Peace of Westphalia which was a peace treaty signed to end the thirty years war that was fought in Europe from 1618-1648. The main participants in that treaty were France and Sweden on one side with their opponents Spain and the Holy Roman Empire on the other side. By the terms of the treaty, each state was to be recognized as sovereign and independent of the Holy Roman Empire making the Holy Roman emperor virtually powerless which subsequently led to the collapse of the Roman Empire.

This event is very important as far the development of international law is concerned as it is seen as the beginning of the concept of sovereignty and independence of states in international law. The treaty conferred sovereignty of all participating states which should be given full recognition by the other members and this concept has remained and perhaps been modified until present times. The Sovereignty and independence of states is a very important concept in contemporary international relations as it entitles each state to be responsible for their internal affairs which should not be infringed upon by other states. By, implication, therefore, it meant that member States are to acknowledge the territorial boundaries of others and not interfere in the affairs of other members in any way.

Also since the thirty years war, which was fought in Europe at that time was both a religious and political war, it was, therefore, important to acknowledge the religious and political freedom of individual as it became obvious that, if individuals are oppressed religiously or politically they will always revolt. The peace treaty which ended the thirty years war thus made provision for such concepts as freedom of association and religion which have also been an important concept in recent international humanitarian laws. Thus, concepts such as freedom of association and religion which form the basic backbone of most humanitarian laws could all the traced back to this peace treaty.

However, the problem that was unsolved by the peace agreement was that the peace agreements reached failed to establish an institution that is expected to be responsible for ensuring that these agreements reached among nation were to be followed without any breach so eventually most of the agreements reached was breached which subsequently lead to Word War 1 and subsequently leading to the second developmental phase.

Second phase
Eventually, the peace agreements hat were reached was not able to maintain the everlasting peace in Europe as expected and as such between 1914 to 1918, there was World War 1. In 1919, the treaty of Versailles was reached between Germany and its allies on one side and Great Britain and it's allied on the other side to bring an end to the World War one. At the treaty of Versailles, a proposal was made to create an independent organization to ensure that the agreements made in the treaty are held up in high esteem by all members and this subsequently lead to the creation of the League of Nations in 1920. An important point to note here is that with the creation of the League of Nations, international laws and standards were agreed by member countries as to how the League of Nations should function which is a shift from international law governing the relations among states alone as it seen in the traditional notion to governing the function and relation of an International Organization which in this case is the League of Nations.

Under this treaty, Germany was made to give full recognition and unconditional sovereignty to Belgium, Poland, Czechoslovakia (currently referred to as the Czech Republic and Slovakia), and Austria. The functions, scope, and operations of the League of Nations was governed by rules and regulations agreed upon by member states. The league of Nation could not maintain world peace as expected with could be attributed to several reasons of which the refusal of a powerful country like the United State of America to join could not be ruled out. The refusal of USA to join the League, in fact, rendered the League powerless leading to its collapse and subsequently resulting to World War II fought from 1939-1945.

Third phase
With the failure of the League of Nations to maintain world peace and subsequently leading to World War II, which was partly due to the fact the Germany was not satisfied with most of the provisions of the treaty of Versailles as Germany was of the view that the treaty was not fair to them and that all effort were intentionally made by that treaty to render Germany powerless and weak (Boemeke, & Feldman, 1998). The Paris peace treaty was therefore signed on the 10th of October in 1949 to bring an end to the Second World War which had led to the destruction of thousands of life, property and materials all over the World. The United Nation was afterward created as an International Governmental Organization to maintain world peace and ensure peaceful coexistence among member countries.

An important point to note is that in this phase as well the scope of international laws has moved from governing the relations between Sovereign states to regulating the conduct and behavior of an International Governmental Organization. It is also important to note that from this phase, with the collapse or failure of the League of Nations, it become important to find out why the League could not perform as expected and several factors were discovered as the reasons for the Leagues failure however, it became obvious that the refusal to get on board powerful countries like the United States was an obvious factor which had a great blow on the powers and function of the League and subsequently leading to its failure.

Also, it was realized that taking decisions quickly on matters of great concern in the League was difficult due to the fact that all members had equal votes in the League and because of different interest by different states it was difficult to reach consensus on an issue that needed immediate actions. It was for these reasons that with its creation, efforts were made to get all powerful countries on board and also the permanent five members of the Security council was created so that these permanent five members could take quick decisions on matters of immediate concerns that needed immediate actions.

Again there was the need to ensure some sought of fairness in dealing with all members in the making of treaties or laws to govern the activities of member states as it was realized that Germany discontentment of the Versailles treaty was also key factor that prompted Germany to revolt as all efforts to seek for reforms in the Versailles treaty was not successful which eventually led to the Second World War. In this regard, during the process of treaty making, conscious efforts are made to ensure that all countries have their national interest featured in one way or the other so that no State will feel been cheated or will have the feeling that their interest has been sabotaged in any way. All these developments have helped shaped and expand its scope in present times.

The fourth stage
The last developmental stage is the period after World War two until the present day. After WWII, the world witnessed a drastic increase in the number of NGOs springing up on a daily basis both locally and internationally. The activities and operations of these NGO's especially the international ones are also to a large extent are governed by International law. These NGO's operate within the larger framework of international and ensures that their activities do not infringe on any international law for that matter. NGO's possesses legal personality and as such they have the right to sue and sued at an international court which therefore implies that if their activities in any way breach any international law, they are liable for their offense and will be held accountable in that regard.

Furthermore, after WWII, the world also witnessed business transactions not between states alone but also between individuals of different nations and as such there was also the need to come out with international laws that will govern such relations between people as well. It is in this regard that a branch of international law called private international law came into being. Thus the need to get standard rules and regulations to govern the relations of individuals from different countries as they trade among themselves on the international level led to the emergence and development of private international law. Different states have their own laws that regulate trade activities and business in the domestic level and this has the possibility of resulting to misunderstandings between business partners as to which state laws should be applied in situations of disputes and hence the essence of private international law.

The point to note here, therefore, is that the scope and function of international law in the fourth stage which refers to the aftermath of the WWII till present day has widened. International law not only regulates the behavior, relations, and affairs of sovereign states, IGO's, NGOs but it also regulates the relations between private persons as well. Day in and day out, there is always an improvement in both private and public international law so as to help maintain the relations of all the subject of international law in a peaceful and cordial manner.

The future of international law
The future of international law can be analyzed from two different perspectives and in order to be able to give a detailed account of these perspectives, we will ask the question "Is international law dying? The first perspective on the future of international law is the school of thought that believes that international law is dying and the reasons that this school advances to support their arguments are:

Firstly, this school of thought argues that the current world order is in flux: The United State of America, for example, is been at war continuous since the beginning of the twenty-first century and in most cases the reasons advanced by the United State of America to support such war is the belief that such wars are in their national interest or when the USA feel that their National interest is threatened or is at stake if such wars are not carried out. A typical instance, in this case, is the USA invasion of Iraq in 2003 even when the USA was not granted the rectification to go-ahead to embark on that war. There is probably little chance that the state of continuous war will end anytime soon and that the world has to kind of adjust to the notion that there is always the possibility of the occurrence of war. The consequence of the possibility of the occurrence of such constant war between states in international law is that Military solutions in setting dispute will be given much priority than diplomatic means of settling a dispute which is not what international law advocates for.

Also, the European powers that were one of the strongest world's nations have now come together to form the European Union to maintain some influence on the state of the world by way of increasing economic integration and strengthening corporation among member states and to a large extent protect the interest of Europe. One cannot predict the ideas of what Russia wants or what it intends to become in the near future. Tracing the relation between Russia and the USA back to the Cold War era where there was a great tension between these two countries and Russia eventually collapse leaving the USA to be the Worlds super power. Some years later, however, there was a much more peaceful corporation between the USA and Russia who was more or less like allies but in recent times, that corporation is no more but rather a kind of antagonistic relation between the two countries. The future intention of Russia in this sense is unpredictable. Is it going to be Russia and Europe or Russia has the intentions of rising up again against the United State in the future?

A country like the Peoples Republic of China which in recent times has emerged as a strong economic power in the world also might have its intentions as far as becoming the world's superpower is concerned. Would china be rising up to contest the USA in becoming the World's super power? What do countries like The People's Republic of China, India and Russia want to become or achieve in the near future especially with regards to the current state of USA as the world's superpower is not certain. The Middle East is in a constant state of turmoil which is not likely to end in anytime soon.

A critical observation of all these events and occurrence happing in the world proves that the system of the world that international law sought to create after world war two is not what is been seen in modern terms and as such this school of thought argues that international law is dying because the systems that it is based on are gradually fading away.

Secondly, international law is primarily based on western ideas. It was based on Western principles and ideas. Sources of international law have primarily been western in nature. For example, when we talk about customary international law, we are actually referring to customs that happened in the West and not what happened in Asia, Africa or other parts of the world. Again when we talk about general principles, we are talking about the general principles of the West and not that of any other countries outside the West. So basically international law was based on Western legal traditions however in the current world of one hundred and ninety-two (192) countries, the relevance and influence of Western ideas and beliefs on which international law is built on is to a large extent of no influence anymore and as such international law is dying because the basis of its foundation is dying.

Also, the Sate which previously used to be an important institution as far as international law is concerned is primarily fading off. That is to say that the state used to be the main actor in international laws but increasingly becoming less important as its role as gradually fading off. For example, the attack on the USA on 11th September 2001 was carried by a non-state entity, a group called Al-Qaida to be specific. Al-Qaida operates across state borders and as such one cannot empathically point to one state has been responsible for harboring such groups. After the incident on 11th September 2001 for instance, the foreign policy of USA changed from placing emphasis on State oriented policies to a more individual or groups oriented policies to the extent that a huge sum of money was placed on the head of Usama bin Laden to be given to any person or individual who could provide intelligence on the whereabouts of Usama bin Laden. Bin Laden was in fact placed on the ten most wanted fugitive list of the United States.

The above-stated points and others perhaps are the reasons been advanced by some scholars that international law is dying.The second school of thought argues that international law is not dying but rather is becoming much stronger than it even used to be.

Firstly, this school of thought argues that European countries, for instance, has over the centuries been at constant war with one another but in recent times, a great harmony exists between European countries to the extent that the Europeans countries have come together to form a Union governed by International laws. Despite the fact that the European countries are facing some problems with single currency: Euro, countries are willing to even give part of their sovereignty away so as to be part of the European Union. The point here is that this corporation between several countries in Europe will probably have not been possible some centuries back. Before the introduction and acceptance of international law in Europe, the continent was in turmoil to which one could hardly think of getting a possible solution to it but now the region has experienced constant peace and corporation over the years.

Also, a powerful country like the United State of America which is the world's superpower and with a strong military and army which they could use to wage war on any country is not probably able to do so because it is constrained by some international customs and conventions. An instance is when the United States went to the Security Council to seek a resolution so as to enable it to go to war in Iraq in 2003 which to a large extent the USA in previous time will not have done. The argument here is that before the introduction of such laws and conventions, the United States as powerful as, will wage war on a country without going to any IGO to seek a resolution before it could that.

Although the USA was refused that resolution, it still went ahead to invade Iraq in 2003, whenever scholars accuse the USA of breaching international norms and conventions, the USA almost always comes out to defend their stands of not breaching any laws but their actions were informed by the threat on their National interest and probably their intelligence was wrong. Thus, international customs restricts countries in their behavior or relations with other countries in modern times which were not the case some years back. Additionally this school of thought argues that at the initial stages of the introduction and development of international laws, strong countries like USA and Russia during the cold war era will either openly or secretly support a rebel group to overthrow a democratically elected government in order to get such countries to practice their ideologies, however, in recent times, such countries cannot act in this manner anymore as it will be seen as a breach of international accepted standards of state behavior and the whole World will frown on such acts.

Furthermore, the economic corporation in recent times is higher than ever. International rules and regulations that govern and regulates trade among countries are much stronger than it is used to be. For example, a treaty called the Convention on Contract for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) signed in 1980 which is the treaty that governs that worldwide sale of goods and has created a legal infrastructure that supports the global economy (Lookofsky, & Bernstein, 2002). Thus, commerce has increased in a much more peaceful and corporative manner with the presence of international laws. Free trade is seen by many as the best and most effective way of trade and in recent times, one can argue that with institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO) among others, there is an increase in free trade than before.

Additionally, international law is flexible and its flexibility, therefore, implies that it can adapt to cover the changing circumstances and occurrences in the world. That is to say that if there are certain events or some specific new developments in the interaction among states and other subjects of international law that are not covered by international conventions and agreements but it has become necessary to have rules and regulations to cater for those areas, then its scope of will expand to cover those areas. Treaties could be reached between countries to cater for certain aspects that previous treaties could not cover. For example International Commercial Terms (INCOTERMS) were first introduced in 1936 by International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to govern the responsibilities of sellers and buyers in international contracts of sale however due to new developments and changes in trade that occurs as times passes by, INCOTERMS have been revised in 1953, 1967, 1976, 1980, and 1990, 2000 and currently in the year 2010.

Finally, the argument that the state is dying or fading away is also a fraud because the state is not dying and cannot fade away. The institution of the Nation or the State is the principal means of governance around the world and there is no indication that the State is going to end anytime soon. The states continue to be the major player in the international system and its role is still important as far as international law is concerned.

In conclusion, therefore, one can argue that international law is of great importance as far as interaction on the international level is concerned as it governs and regulates the behavior of sovereign states, inter-Governmental Organizations, NGO's and individual persons in the process of dealing with one another. Its development has gone through a number of stages as it is currently seen in modern times and to a large extent, international law is becoming much stronger than it used to be at its initial stage of introduction. This is evident in numerous instances as all States, IGO's, NGO's and persons give recognition to the existence of such international law and conventions which they try not to breach.

Boemeke, M. F., & Feldman, G. D. (1998). The Treaty of Versailles: a reassessment after 75 years. Cambridge University Press.
Egede, E., & Sutch, P. (2013). The politics of international law and international justice. Edinburgh University Press.
Lookofsky, J., & Bernstein, H. (2002). Understanding the CISG in Europe 2nd. Kluwer Law International.