Situs refers to where something is physically located. In law situs, refers to the location of property for the means of determining which laws apply to the property. For example, the location or situs of a house in California could subject it to certain laws regarding home ownership, ways of using the property, and so on. In medicine, situs can refer to the location of a body part, as in situs inversus, where the heart is flipped to the wrong side.
Situs is valuable in law because it dictates lex situs, which are literally laws regarding the area in which property is located. In order for lex, or law, to be applied, situs must be determined and recognized. For example property located in an unincorporated area of a city might be subject to different laws and privileges than property located inside city limits.
Situs can also refer in law to the place where someone lives, as for example, someone who owes money or who has committed a crime. In fact situs is invaluable in interpreting how much punishment fits a crime. A crime committed in one state may not be considered as the same offense as that committed within another.
Situs of crime is essential to determining punishment. As well, situs of crime is more important than the person’s residence. A person committing a crime in other than his or her home state answers to the state in which he or she committed the crime.
Situs can also refer to copyrights, patents or intellectual property, or to the area in which ownership of copyrights, patents or intellectual property are respected. Thus situs of intellectual property in one country might not be enforceable in another country.
Situs may also need to be established in order to determine laws regarding property that can be or has been moved, like a car. If a person abandons a car in a certain area, the place where the car is situs or located, will determine what fees or fines would be levied against a person attempting to recover the car. Even if the car was abandoned out of state, the fees, fines or tickets would be issued by the state in which the abandoned car was located.