Certain obligations must be fulfilled by people otherwise they may be penalized by virtue of the law. Such obligations are usually written down in a formal, legal, binding document ensuring that these obligations are carried out lest the parties involved may be subject to some form of legal punishment. These types of obligations are referred to as legal duties.
Legal duties are often derived from written laws, case laws, statutes, or other forms of law. These legal duties often coincide with social, moral duties that are inherent in human behavior. For example, if a person sees another individual in danger, he or she is morally compelled to help such an individual until the danger has passed. However, if the situation was in some way caused by the person, then it is the legal duty of the person to help the individual in danger.
Paying taxes at the appropriate time and place, avoid drinking and driving, and maintaining honesty in business dealings are also considered legal duties. When a person does not pay his or her taxes, he or she may be subject to some type of fine or commensurate punishment. Thus, the breach of legal duties always involves a form of punishment, whether it is fines, imprisonment, community service, or other criminal or civil sanctions. Civil sanctions may exist when a homeowner invites a person to his or her house, but places the person under risk and danger by doing so. The person may file for damages and the homeowner may have to pay restitution.