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From Dark Age Redemption

The Legal Process

For more information on how the legal process works in the Federation, please see Legal Process.

Origins of Mercian Law

The history of legal procedure stems far back to the age of Zeal. Zeal set the foundation for the progression for noble justice and feudal law, and old elements of these laws have survived through the rise and fall of the Kingdom of Mercia, and the Federation itself. In the current age of the Federation, the establishment of the royal justice system is a great cornerstone of civilization made to protect those who have been victims of lawlessness since the time of Mercia's fall.

The intent of the Federation was to prioritize uniform laws that serve the customs of peoples of all backgrounds who have sworn themselves to the Federation for protection. It has been their goal to administer efficient justice consistent with the teachings of the House of Sky.

The concept of felony and crimes against the King were reconsidered and reworked as a response to baronial revolt back during the time of the Kingdom of Mercia. It was changed to account for nobility who flaunted their power by administering their own, wildly differing brands of law and justice. Classically, order was deeply overshadowed by a glaringly slow process of receiving a royal writ, assembling a jury, and waiting for the response from the royal court.

This process was sabotaged by nobility, who found themselves more than capable to administer retribution upon an offender, rather than to allow them more time to prepare false evidence and testimony. It is clear in hindsight, that many of the failures prior to the Vorlorn dynasty were due to extremely slow administration, unclear boundaries with freemen and nobility alike, and many taking law into their own hands. The procedures of Mercia that pre-date Federation law have been categorized below as most are still considered to be valid today:

Informal Mediation

The majority of cases are heard informally by a single noble or officer who will listen to the arguments and render his verdict. However, any freeman may demand a sworn inquest by obtaining a royal writ.

The Sworn Inquest

The basic form for the sworn inquest is for the presiding officer to appoint a sworn jury, usually of prominent neighbors or town aldermen (jurors) to whom specific questions of fact are put. Witnesses may be called, obliged to testify under oath. The jurors’ answer (the verdict) may be from personal knowledge, or from local gossip, but will at least be based on some kind of evidence rather than superstition or raw power.

Trial By Ordeal

Ordeal was formerly in common use at all levels of justice but is now quite rare. The exception is in temple courts where is is still the most common form of trial; ordeal relies heavily on a belief in divine intervention. There are a huge variety of methods used; each temple has its own traditions.

Trial By Combat

A vestige of the vendetta system is the right of the accused to meet the plaintiff in fair combat. It is generally only the nobility, those trained in arms, who attempt to exercise this right. The right to this form of trial is often denied.


The Federation Completed

The establishment of written statutes, and restoration of a semblance of order was a priority during the formation of the Federation. Small offenses committed within the holdings of a particular noble house were to be settled by civil discourse between the affected parties and that house. The King himself would oversee these noble houses and ensure the honest administration of small laws, and the royal court would take a direct hand in larger offenses. The Steel Wardens have functioned as the King's hand in policing these laws.

Due to the nature of Godsworn and their uncanny ability to survive, the alternative punishment of "Branding" was developed. While a Godsworn could come back from death itself, a visible brand could mark even these criminals for life. In an atmosphere where the most of the common populace has grown a deep fear of disorder, Branded often find themselves shunned if not outright outcast. Branding is typically preceded by issued warrant of arrest by the town’s ruler or a private collector. The condemnation by the prosecuting party must be confirmed by the royal house. After the branding is complete, the royal house may also declare outlawry of the criminal, and sent to toil in Portcross Major in hard labor.

What started as a punishment for Godsworn, has since turned into a quick, easy method of 'noble justice'. Many of those Branded that find themselves in Portcross today are not Godsworn, but simply malcontents and those who society simply wished to do without in the greater part of the Federation.

Appendix:

Crimes Against the Federation

The following crimes concern actions against the sovereign, and are deemed the most serious of all crimes. In some jurisdictions, they are the only laws that are enforced against nobles, and are all felonies.

Branding: Broken Crown, Sword and Crown

Treason

Obstructing royal privilege, action detrimental to the crown, sabotage of crown property, membership in a treasonable or seditious organization. Treason can only be committed by citizens of the country; foreign nationals are prosecuted under sedition or espionage laws.

Penalties: Banishment, Death (by various means)

Sedition

Verbal treason. Encouraging others to commit treason, disputing the authority of the crown.

Penalties: Banishment, Death (by various means)

Espionage

Sabotage of crown property, spying, etc.

Penalties: Death (by various means)

Rebellion

Taking up arms against a lawful liege or denying his rights or privileges.

Penalties: Loss of Title, Banishment, Death (by various means)

Regicide

Killing or attempting to kill a member of the royal family.

Penalties: Torture, Death (by various means)

Assassination

Murder or attempted murder of a noble or lawfully appointed official.

Penalties: Restitution, Death


Privilege Crimes

The following crimes concern the abuse or usurpery of some kind of privilege, obligation or right, an offense against the social order. Many of these are considered felonies; those that are not require an accusation to be brought by the offended party.

Branding: Petty Copper Coins, Swirling Tongue, Hands in Chains

Breach of the Privilege of Rank

Bearing chivalric or heraldic symbols without lawful right thereto, impersonation of a noble, ursurpery of the customary or lawful rights of a noble, lack of proper respect for a person of noble birth or rank, or for a lawfully appointed official, and laying hands on such a person in a disrespectful manner or without permission.

Penalties: Flogging, Branding, Imprisonment

Abuse of Trust

Any crime involving abuse of office or position including graft, embezzlement, accepting bribes, failure to properly execute customary or legal obligation, dereliction of duty, etc. Where a royal official is concerned, this is considered a felony.

Penalties: Loss of Office, Title, Property and Privilege, Imprisonment, Banishment, Death (by various means)

Oathbreaking

Perjury (lying under oath) or oathbreaking, breach of contract, etc.

Penalties: Fine, Restitution, Confiscation of Property, Loss of Privilege, Title, Scolding

Obstruction of Justice

Hindering an officer/noble in the performance of his duty. If other felonies are involved or if the obstructed officer is a royal official, this is deemed a felony.

Penalties: Fine, Imprisonment, Pillory, Hanging


Temple Crimes

The following crimes are tried under temple law in religious courts. Only crimes against the recognized Houses of Virtue are dealt with under temple law. Temple courts must obtain secular consent to any branding or fine. The penalties handed out by temple courts will vary from appointed temple authorities of each house. The Bishop of the Church has the final judgment in what is considered to be a crime of this nature.

Branding: Pentagram

Breach of Temple Privilege

Impersonation of a priest/cleric, ursurpery of temple rights.

Penalties: Scolding, Flogging, Banishment, Burning (at the stake), Impalement

Desecration of Church Property

Disrespect for, or theft of, the property of a lawfully recognized church or the relics/artifacts of a lawful deity.

Penalties: Flogging, Mutilation, Burning, Impalement

Blasphemy

Lack of respect for a lawfully recognized deity.

Penalties: Scolding, Removal of the Tongue

Heresy

Denial of a lawful church’s status as arbiter of its deity’s will, denial of the authority of a temple or cleric, disputing church doctrine.

Penalties: Scolding, Removal of the Tongue, Mutilation, Burning, Impalement

Witchcraft

Consorting with demons was thought to have brought the destruction of Mercia. Classicly, magic that is not of God has been thought of as demonic in origin. Conjuring demons, or consorting with demons is illegal, however, the law has recently been amended to permit sworn members of the Minervan Conclave and the Academy of Blackmount to study magic to determine if there is a third classification of magic, neither Divine or demonic in origin.

Penalties: Scolding, Removal of the Tongue, Drowning, Burning


Social Crimes

These are generally crimes of violence against commoners. As a rule, only common folk will suffer the more severe penalties given below; a noble’s liability is usually limited to restitution in coin or collateral, if even. Some are felonies, others require actions by the injured party.

Branding: A Club/Cudgel, Cock (Penis or Rooster), Sword, Ass (Donkey), Shackles, Fork and Knife, Blindfold, Rat

Battery

Common assault, attacking a person causing injury.

Penalties: Restitution, Pillory, Flogging

Rape

Sexual assault of a person. This is a borderline felony.

Penalties: Flogging, Restitution, Imprisonment, Castration, Death by Stoning

Murder

Killing or attempting to kill a commoner without due cause or provocation. This is generally considered a felony.

Penalties: Death by Hanging, Restitution, Fine, Slavery to the Family of the Deceased (Branding: Sword)

Manslaughter

The accidental slaying of a commoner. This is generally considered a felony.

Penalties: Restitution, Fine, Imprisonment

Civil Discordance

Refusing to comply with legal action, summons of a noble person, or desecration of a house or name by inciting riots

Accessory to a Crime

Aiding in the commission or concealment of a crime, e.g. by assisting in planning or encouraging another to commit a crime (an accessory before the fact) or by helping another escape arrest or punishment (an accessory after the fact). An accessory to a crime, unlike an accomplice, does not typically participate in the actual commission of the crime.

Penalties: Fine, imprisonment, Extradition

Accomplice to a Crime

Knowingly, voluntarily, or intentionally giveing assistance to another in (or in some cases fails to prevent another from) the commission of a crime. An accomplice is criminally liable to the same extent as the principal. An accomplice, unlike an accessory, is typically present when the crime is committed.

Penalties: Equal Sanctions to the Main Accomplice of the Crime

Cannibalism

Eating or skinning human bodies. Generally deemed a felony.

Penalties: death by starvation or being thrown to wild dogs, burning at the stake. (Branding: Fork and knife)

Abduction

Detention of a person against his will, without good or lawful cause. Sometimes considered a felony.

Penalties: Restitution, Fine, Imprisonment, Mutilation (Branding: Blindfold)

Obscene Practice

Engaged in some prescribed and immoral act such paying for sex, indecent exposure, etc.

Penalties: Fine, Pillory, Imprisonment

Libel/Slander

False accusation, malicious gossip, etc.

Penalties: Scolding, Removal of the Tongue, Restitution, Flogging (Branding: Rat)

Consorting with Skaven

The intention of association, communication with, or sheltering of Skaven from agents of the Federation.

Penalties: Restitution, Fine, Imprisonment


Economic Crimes

The following are secular crimes that cause only economic harm. With some exceptions, actions must be initiated by the injured party. Most are not deemed felonies.

Branding: Bag and Knife, Horse head, Grain,

Breach of Guild Privilege

Usurpery of the customary or lawful rights of a guild or guildsman, impersonating a guildsman, violation of guild monopoly.

Penalties: Confiscation of Property, Fine, Restitution, Banishment

Petty Larceny

Minor Theft.

Penalties: Pillory, Restitution, Fine, Flogging

Grand Larceny

Major theft. Generally when the amount stolen is the equivalent of 1000 copper.

Penalties: Pillory, Restitution, Fine, Flogging, Mutilation, Hanging

Horse Theft

Usually applies only to warhorses, otherwise considered a larceny.

Penalties: Death by Hanging.

Poaching

Most serious when the act is on royal lands, when it is considered a felony.

Penalties: Restitution, Fine, Flogging, Severing of the Hand, Banishment, Death

Hoarding

Hoarding food in time of famine, violation of any rationing laws that may be in effect.

Penalties: Flogging, Death by Starvation

Tax evasion

Avoiding payment of any lawful toll or tax. A felony.

Penalties: Restitution, Fine, Pillory, Flogging

Forgery, Fraud

Counterfeiting coins or forging documents, possession of same, or obtaining benefits by misrepresentation. A felony, if royal privilege is involved.

Penalties: Fine, Restitution, Pillory, Loss of Property, Privilege and Office, Severing of the Hand, Imprisonment

Smuggling

Engaged in transporting, selling, or in possession of, any proscribed or contraband good. Considered a felony.

Penalties: Fine, Imprisonment, Pillory, Hanging

Piracy, Highway Robbery

Self-explanatory. A felony.

Penalties: Fine, Pillory, Imprisonment, Hanging