List of Criminal Offences
The definitions of the crimes are brief, but this reflects the laws of the setting. Crimes are based on simple principles and are addressed by following the spirit of the law rather than complex technical arguments. The magistrates will do their best to interpret and apply the law with the pursuit of justice and the imperial interest as their goal. Justice is intended to be swift but fair and to be available to all without the need for lawyers to interpret what the law means to the ordinary citizen. Please note that the law usually refers to a "person" but who actually benefits from protection under the law can be found here. Any exceptions to this are referred to explicitly in the definitions below e.g. for treason.
Crimes against the Person
- Murder: Unlawful assault or other action against a person with intent to kill and which results in someone’s death.
- Manslaughter: Unlawful assault or other action against a person which results in someone’s death.
- Assault: Unlawfully striking a person.
There is a traditional defence to an assault charge which applies where unwelcome visitors who refuse to leave your camp are cut down, removed from camp and then provided with sufficient medical assistance to avoid permanent injury. One who is accused of assault but wishes to claim this defence should plead not guilty if it goes to trial. However, if the magistrate decides that the accused’s behaviour was unreasonable they will be found guilty.
Remember that persons who consent to do so can fight each other without fear of legal sanction, provided that nobody is seriously hurt and they are not causing a public order issue.
- Mayhem: Unlawfully maiming or mutilating a person.
- Poisoning: Introducing or applying a poisonous substance or effect to a person which causes them harm.
- False Imprisonment: Unlawfully detaining a person against their will. Suspects must be directly supervised during any period of lawful custody.
- Malsanguino: Willfully preventing someone from receiving medical attention with the intention of causing them harm.
Note that malsanguino does not apply where somebody simply refuses to provide medical attention.
- Slavery: Unlawfully holding the power of life and liberty over any person. The direct purchase and sale of slaves is also illegal but this does not encompass the repatriation or ransoming of Imperial citizens.
It is worth noting that orcs were redefined as people when they became a nation of the Empire. Whether a person is a citizen or not is irrelevant, so it is also illegal to enslave barbarian orcs. In Winter 382 the constitution was amended as part of the Liberty Pact to define hylje and daeva as people.
A note on piracy: Although there is currently no crime specifically relating to acts of piracy, in practice this activity falls under the crimes of assault, theft, criminal damage, murder and so on. Be aware that acts of piracy committed against foreigners by imperial citizens will be investigated as criminal acts.
Crimes of Property
- Theft: Dishonestly appropriating property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it. The burden is on the accused to satisfy the magistrate as to their intention to return the property.
- Handling Stolen Goods: Receiving or disposing of goods which you know or believe to be stolen.
- Counterfeiting: The falsifying, or unlawfully creating or amending of an imperial document or legal tender.
- Criminal Damage: Unlawfully destroying or damaging any property either belonging to another person or to the Empire. Magistrates often refuse to bring to trial cases involving accidents or claims of negligence, preferring such cases to be held in the civil courts. Criminal damage to Imperial property is almost always dealt with in the criminal courts however.
- Possession or supply of controlled substances or items: this includes both illegal narcotics and items. It is illegal to carry the substance gutwrench. The poisons created by apothecaries using the lores of The Assassin's Gate and The Winter Moon are likewise illegal. The blasphemous musical instruments known as Drums of Strife, Harbinger of Chaos, and Horns of Madness are also illegal. The drug "Bite" is also illegal. Scorpion's Sting daggers were legalised in Winter 378.
- Vallorn cultivation: It is illegal to cultivate vallorn. Note: Magical interactions with Vallorn may fall under the Conclave's constitutional remit to ensure the fit and proper use of magic in the service of the Empire. Magistrates who investigate a potential offence of Vallorn cultivation will seek expert testimony from the Conclave in cases where the position is unclear. For example, planting or tending a vallorn is very likely to be interpreted to be vallorn cultivation but harvesting magical ingredients from a naturally occurring vallorn pod may or may not be.
- Trade of True Liao to foreigners: It is illegal to trade True Liao to anyone who is not an Imperial citizen. However, the distribution of True Liao by the gatekeepers of virtue, for no payment, does not constitute "Trade" for this purpose.
- Ban Liao trade to the Iron Confederacy It is illegal for imperial citizens to sell or trade liao to the Iron Confederacy via ports or the Suranni-Imperial border.
Crimes of Position
- Treason: Aiding barbarians, eternals or foreign powers to act against the interests of the Empire. Committing an assault against the emperor or empress. Only citizens and former citizens of the Empire may be charged with treason. There is some magistrate's guidance on interactions with eternals here. We do not prosecute bona fide ransoms for exchange of prisoners as such prosecutions are judged not to be within the imperial interest.
- Impersonation of an Imperial Official: Falsely and dishonestly claiming to be a senator, civil servant, member of the militia etc. Any person who with intent to deceive impersonates an official of the Empire or does any act calculated falsely to suggest that they are, shall be found guilty of this crime.
- Dereliction of Duty: Volunteering for an imperial duty and then failing to carry it out through neglect or cowardice. Members of the Militia are expected to act in accordance with their duties when they observe a crime in progress or about to occur. Those who take the battlefield and then show conspicuous cowardice in the face of the enemy may also be tried for this offence. This offence does not relate to the abuse of an imperial position, which is within the remit of the Synod.
- Membership of the organisation known as the Vyig is illegal. Furthermore, possession of Vyig tattoos is illegal and such tattoos will be defaced in addition to any other punishment.
Crimes against the Processes of the State
- Contempt of Court: any behaviour which impedes the proper operation of the legal process. For example, being disruptive during a trial or disrespectful of the magistrate's authority, failing to attend court (or any other relevant meeting with a magistrate), and failing to obey the lawful order of a magistrate.
- Perverting the Course of Justice: any behaviour calculated to unduly affect the course of the judicial process. For example, bearing false witness, making false allegations, concealing offences or assisting others to evade arrest, interference with witnesses or evidence and evading, withholding or perverting a lawful punishment.
- Subverting agencies of the state: any behaviour which contravenes or subverts the constitutionally protected procedures or powers of an agency of the state.
For example: rigging or ineligible participation in the national election of senators (such as a yeoman disguising their identity to enter a tourney to determine the person who may select Dawnish senators), a senator entering the General’s tent to interfere with their military strategies, a member of the synod being refused the right to witness (without cause), a failure to attend lawful inquisition and so on. This crime does not apply to the abuse of constitutionally granted powers by the person or body who is entitled to wield them.
- Resisting Arrest: Any course of action with the intent to oppose a lawful arrest.
- Contravening a Declaration of Sorcery: breaching the prohibitions placed upon a sorcerer is a serious crime.
- Contravening a Declaration of Interdiction: breaching the prohibitions placed upon interdicted magic is a serious crime.
- Improper placement of an aura on the senate building: The placing of an aura on the senate building without prior explicit permission from the Senate.
- Improper placement of an aura on the civil service hub: The placing of an aura on the civil service hub without prior explicit permission from the magistrates and civil servants.
Religious crimes are tried by a magistrate but are raised by the Imperial Synod.
- Idolatry: Subsuming human will and destiny to any inhuman entity or force. This includes the worship, veneration or exaltation of any such being or power.
- Blasphemy:The denigration of the paragons and the paths of virtue. This includes promoting false virtues and the teachings, or example, of false exemplars or False Paragons.
- Heresy: The willful rejection, or perversion of, the orthodox Doctrines of the Faith as laid down by the Imperial Synod, or actively teaching and promoting false doctrines.
- Abuse of Powers: The misuse, or abuse, of the powers of a priest. This includes the powers of the Synod, as well as liao ceremonies.
- Desecration: The removal of spontaneously created virtuous auras such as legacies of ascendance to paragonhood. This includes such auras arising on areas and objects, and on those people who do not wished them removed The magistrates' interpretation is that in order for this law to accord with constitutional principles it must be tried as a religious crime and accordingly any prosecution requires condemnation by the appropriate synod assembly.
What isn’t a criminal offence?
- Fraud: Dishonesty calculated for personal gain. However be aware that a victim might raise a civil case in these circumstances.
- Blackmail: Using threats to make a gain or to cause a loss to another.
- Slander and Libel: Making disparaging and false statements about another in public.
- Use of magic: Using magic on another person is never in and of itself a crime. However if the effect of the magic meets the definition of a crime then the fact that this effect was achieved by magic is no defence. For example, a curse of poverty doesn't meet the definition of any criminal offence but a death curse most certainly does. The Conclave are responsible for overseeing the proper operation of magic and have powers which allow them to take action against those who use it inappropriately.
Five things about criminal offences
- Attempt to Commit a Crime: An attempt to commit a crime will be tried in the same way as if they had committed the crime but may (or may not) result in a lesser sentence.
- Aiding and Abetting of Crime: Encouraging, soliciting or helping with the perpetration of a crime. This will be tried in the same way as if the accused had committed the crime but may (or may not) result in a lesser sentence.
- Consent: It is possible for willing participants to give consent so that what would otherwise be crimes being committed against them are not. For example: two individuals who have agreed to spar with weapons would not be guilty of assault for striking each other. It is considered wise to make such terms clear in the event that there is a disagreement later. While duelling is permitted it is not possible to consent to your own murder (but a priest for the surviving party might make a plea for clemency based on the reasons for the duel).
- Lawful Arrest: If an ordinary citizen or member of the militia who believes another person has committed a crime apprehends them, then the law provides some protection against crimes (for example, assault) associated with this act. However, if a magistrate decides that their actions were disproportionate or that it was not reasonable to believe that the person apprehended had committed a crime then this protection will not apply. If a citizen wishes to claim this defence at trial then they should plead not guilty.
- Self-defence: If a person reasonably believes that their property or the safety of themselves or others is in immediate jeopardy then they may use reasonable force in order to protect them. If someone wishes to claim this defence at trial then they should plead not guilty. The magistrate will determine whether their behaviour was reasonable and if she decides that it was not then the accused will be found guilty. Claims of self-defence will also fail where the accused is already engaged on a course of criminal activity or is subject to lawful arrest. Using a claim of self-defence to justify protecting a barbarian will very likely fail unless the Magistrate is satisfied that the accused reasonably believed that the victim was entitled to protection under the law.