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Legal System

The Legal System Channel features information related to how society deals with crime, criminals and law enforcement. Learn more about how governments operate their legal systems.

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Learn More / Page 6

How Miranda Rights Work

Any viewer of a TV cop show knows the Miranda rights. They include the rights to remain silent, to have an attorney and so on. Why are they called the Miranda rights, and why must U.S. police recite them to arrestees?

How Firearm Background Checks Work

The Brady bill of 1993 established mandatory background checks for firearms purchases. But that only applies to Federal Firearms Licensees, not to private sellers. What's involved in a background check – and would expanding them lessen gun crime?

Why are most mass murderers men?

You've heard the stat reported by the Mother Jones team: Since 1982, there have been 62 mass shootings in America, crimes like the one that James Holmes is accused of. Only one of those shootings was carried out by a woman. Why?

10 Last-minute Stays of Execution

Most people sentenced to death in the U.S. get at least one stay of execution. In one case, the stay came a minute too late because of a misdialed phone number. Here are 10 of the most unusual cases.

10 Uses of the Insanity Defense

It's not always easy to convince a jury that someone didn't know right from wrong. Here are 10 of the world's most notable insanity defenses.

Can a felon own a gun in the United States?

It's a pretty straightforward question with an obvious answer, right? Well, yes, until you start peering at both federal and state laws. That's when things start to get interesting.

10 Big Questions in the U.S. Gun Control Debate

Several recent high-profile mass killings in the U.S. have stepped up the very heated gun control debate. With so many studies and arguments out there, we inject some impartial facts in the gun control debate.

Does news coverage of mass murders lead to more mass murders?

Copycat crimes aren't a 21st-century phenomena. Some of the first ones were documented during the late 19th century, when cases like Jack the Ripper held the world's attention. What's new is the inordinate media attention. Does it change the game?

Do countries with stricter gun laws really have less crime or fewer homicides?

Ask a card-carrying member of the NRA and you'll get one answer. Ask a participant in the Million Mom March and you'll get another. Ask us and you'll get the research that underlies this controversial topic.

How Al-Qaida 3.0 Works

The terror network responsible for 9/11 has been around for decades, but it underwent a rapid transition after the death of its original leader, Osama bin Laden. What does the third act look like for al-Qaida?

What happens when a state law contradicts a U.S. federal law?

In Nov. 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington state voted to legalize marijuana, even though use of the drug is illegal under federal law. How will this be resolved and what's happened in previous cases with these kinds of contradictions?

10 Completely Archaic Laws Still on the Books

Dive into the darkest corners of the world’s aging legislation and you’ll find statutes that will puzzle even the most lawful citizen. Case in point: prohibiting pretzels with beer.

10 Most Common Attractive Nuisances

Sometimes the things that fascinate us most are dangerous. Attractive nuisances draw the attention of children and often cause injuries or even death. What everyday neighborhood features are likely to harm kids?

How Riots Work

Riots may garner attention for people who feel frustrated and oppressed, but are they really effective? Here, we'll examine how riots work.

Timeline of the September 11 Attacks

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had a profound effect on the United States -- and the world. Trace the progression of events in this timeline.

How Narco Tanks Work

Drugs are serious business, especially in Mexico. In fact, Mexican cartels have gone to great lengths to protect their turf, building Mad Max-style armored vehicles. What's the deal with these so-called narco tanks?

5 September 11 Conspiracy Theories

The confusion and terror following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center left many searching for answers. Some conspiracy theorists point to conflicting reports and murky political agendas in their alternative versions of the event.

Who were the September 11 hijackers?

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, left America and much of the world wondering who could have been responsible for the devastating attacks. Who exactly hijacked and flew the planes, and how did they get involved with the plot?

How Human Trafficking Works

If Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in the United States, why is so much money still being made to sell others into bondage? Here, we'll examine how human trafficking works.

How Police Sketches Work

Police sketches may be a routine part of law enforcement investigations, but they've been key to solving some extraordinary cases. How do forensic artists create these renderings, and how reliable are they, really? Find out in How Police Sketches Work.

How a Memorandum of Understanding Works

Say you're a government agency or a company of some sort and you want to negotiate the terms of a working relationship with another group or agency. However, you're not too enthused by the idea of lawyers, contracts and legalese. That's where Memoranda of Understanding come in. What are these MOUs, exactly, and who uses them?

Is it legal to sterilize addicts?

In the starkest terms, abuse and addiction cost money. It's expensive to treat and rehabilitate addicts, and it's costly to help the children affected. So, why have efforts to sterilize addicts come under fire?

Why are eyewitnesses unreliable?

Eyewitness testimony can play a big part in a criminal trial. The problem is that eyewitness accounts aren't always accurate. What makes them so faulty?

What makes a killer?

In murder-mystery TV shows, detectives look for clues to find the killer. Part of that involves getting into the murderer's mind-set. What factors make it easier for one person to take the life of another?

What is justice?

The word "justice" appears in many of the United States' most important documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But for a word that's used so often, its precise definition is still a topic of debate.

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