Procedural Law: Definition & Example

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  • 0:02 Definition of Procedural Law
  • 1:13 Examples of Procedural Law
  • 2:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

In this lesson, you will learn what constitutes procedural law. Review the definition of procedural law, and examine several examples of procedural law to gain a thorough understanding.

Definition of Procedural Law

Frequently, on legal television dramas, lawyers engage in dramatic courtroom scenes, engrossing the jury and of course, you, as the viewer. Often, however, these scenes leave out the procedural law aspect that is common to every courtroom in the United States.

Procedural law pertains to the law that controls the way a court case proceeds. In other words, procedural law dictates what will happen in the court. In contrast, substantive law pertains to the facts and law of the case and the resolution of the matter at issue. Procedural law relates to how all of the phases of the case will occur and how courts will manage the case. There are procedural law guidelines for civil and criminal cases, and guidelines may also vary depending on if cases are being tried in a federal or state court. Procedural law rules help govern arranging a lawyer if someone cannot afford one, pleading, presenting evidence, and appealing, among other steps of carrying out a trial in court.

The reason for procedural law is to ensure that due process is preserved. Due process is a constitutional guarantee that every American citizen has to be notified of pending legal action and has the right to fair and legal proceedings.

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