Also, in a democracy, the laws that are passed must be obeyed. In a republic, such as ours, the law is interpreted by the third branch, the Judicial System. Thus, even if an oppressive government passes a law, if the people find that the law is unjust, they may claim the indicted is innocent.
That is why older laws (the goofy ones like in there shall be no more cakes and ale?) sometimes aren't take off the books, they are merely ignored. No jury in the country would convict you for looking at a moose out of a airplane window flying over Alaska, even though (at least, last time I checked) it is a punishable offense.