Legal authority is the authorization granted by state and/or federal government to perform official duties and responsibilities. For example, the legal authority of local police departments to enforce the law is granted by state legislatures, which get their authority from state constitutions, which are the ultimate authority in each state.
A more concise legalistic definition is as follow: "Legally authority is based on a belief in the legality of patterns of normative rules and the right of those elevated to authority infer such rules to issue commands. Under the control of legal authority, obedience is attributed to the legally established impersonal order. It extends to the persons exercising the authority of office under it only by virtue of the formal legality of their commands and only within the scope of authority of the office."
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