There is no strict or complicated legal code that must be applied to the letter, rather a set notes and guidance for the magistrates that are appointed to keep the peace. The Southern Legal Charter lays out how this legal framework should operate.
Application of the law is delegated to Magistrates who are required to Keep the Peace, rather than to impose a strict regime. It is the magistrate job to decide on a fair compromise or solution that most people can agree with and will stand up to scrutiny by a superior. There are descriptions of crimes, a list of possible penalties and some guidance notes - beyond that it is the magistrates decision. Magistrates are normally members of the Southern Chapter.
There are four grades of Magistrate.
In the first case, most decisions will be made by an Assistant Magistrate - possibly in a formal Court Building (in the towns) or, much more likely, as part of their every day duties. There is generally a right of appeal to a higher court (ie a higher ranking magistrate) - but if the higher court thinks you are wasting their time, they may well impose an extra fine to cover their costs. Senior magistrates also have more severe penalties that they can hand down.
Any Magistrate may detain any criminal that refuses their lawful instruction. If a criminal resists detention, the magistrate will not be guilty of a crime, if the criminal is injured wounded or killed.
Based on a code of law developed by a sage, Peter Gasgano, the Lex Gasgana defines a list of crimes, a list of punishments and gives guidance on how they should be applied. That framework underpins the decisions of the magistrates.
|Crimes against the Person|
|Public Insult||Name Calling, Libel, Defamation, Slander.|
|Assault||Pushing, Shoving, Punching, Kicking, Minor Fight|
|Wounding||An assault with weapons that causes physical wounds|
|Kidnap||Includes wrongful imprisonment and similar crimes.|
|Crimes against property|
|Housebreaking||Entering someone's property without consent.|
|Theft||Taking something that isn't yours.|
|Arson||Burning something that isn't yours|
|Damage done to Crops||-|
|Injuring or killing Animals||-|
|Crimes against Society|
|Public Disorder||Anything from swearing in church to urinating in the street|
|Threatening Behaviour||Threats of Violence|
|Affray||Mass public disorder – Street Fights, Riots etc|
|Non-Appearance at a court||-|
|1||Restitution||Repayment of value of item stolen. Public Apology. Etc|
|2||Compensation||Extra payment to the victim for trouble caused (cash, labour, hiring a bard to apologise)|
|3||Community work||Minor work carried out, unsupervised, in the community. Repairing local roads, weeding the park, painting the town hall, cleaning grave stones. etc|
|4||Fine||Normally Cash – paid to the court, state as a penalty.|
|5||Stocks||Public Humiliation - put on public display along with details of the offence. May well be pelted with rotten fruit ….|
|6||Flogging||Corporal Punishment – normally up to a dozen lashes. Often left on public display for an added element of humiliation.|
|Punishments below this line may only be handed out by a Senior Magistrate.|
|7||Indenture||Contracted to an employer for a fixed period (often years) paid a minimal wage while the rest goes to meet fines, compensation etc. However, the punishment allows the convict to live with their family, albeit in very poor conditions.|
|8||Hard Labour||The closest we get to prison. Mainly for debtors we don't trust. Supervised labour, often in a mine, quarry or galley – for a fixed period. The convict is generally chained and lives at their site of their work, in very basic conditions.|
|9||Branding||Last Chance Saloon. If a person with a Brand is found to be responsible for a serious crime it is exile or the death penalty next.|
|10||Exile||Stay out of the land. Even setting foot here is worth the death penalty.|
|11||Death Penalty||Normally by Sword or Axe.|
Notes: Start with lower level penalties and work upwards. We do not send people to prison, remove limbs or disfigure them as a form of legal punishment. more
Give careful thought to the crime that you try an offender for. Sometimes more than one crime has been committed at the same time; the mugger who knocks a man to the floor and steals their purse has committed assault and theft. Sometimes there might be three, four or even more crimes to be considered.
You primary role is not to punish a criminal, but to heal the harm that has been done to the community and discourage any repeat performance. That doesn't mean to say you should let an offender get away unpunished - just that any punishment should be proportionate and appropriate, and work in favour of the community rather than against it.
Community Service might be more appropriate than a fine, for a peasant or young person. Although, that might not be an appropriate penalty for a businessman or noble. You can stack punishments as well. A suitable penalty for a youth who steals a loaf of bread as a first offence might be an apology and community work. For a hardened pickpocket, it might be restitution, compensation and a fine.
Indenture, Hard Labour, Branding, Exile and the Death Penalty should only be handed out by a senior magistrate as they are either severe or cannot be appealed. However, a branded criminal who is caught red handed or one who is killed during the prevention of a crime, will be considered to be a legal application of the death penalty.
Terms and Definitions - This document describes some of the terms you may find in these documents.
Letters Patent - Letters Patent are a way for a ruler to assign titles, land or a privilege to people, groups or families. In many cases they can be granted by a representative on behalf of their ruler. The different types are described in the Letters Patent Directory.
Land Ownership - Nobles can 'own' their lands in many ways, these are listed in The land Ownership Directory.
Other contracts are generally drawn up and lodged with The Cathedral of Abadar. There is a fee, of course. Each signatory gets a copy of the document and an extra copy is lodged in the cathedral's vault.
Wills - Everyone, especially those who live a dangerous or adventurous life, should draw up a will. The Midmarch Standard Will has clauses that deal with being brought back to life and how to dispose of property and estates. If you die without a will, the magistrates, in conjunction with the priests of Abadar, will make an appropriate judgement. However, they will be required to take any known wishes, of the individual, into consideration.
Property Ownership - There are number of different ways that property can be owned, and they can be found in the Property Ownership Document. They apply
Incorporation - This is just a type of contract that recognizes groups as a legal entity. It could be a Family (leMaistre), Company (Winter Sun merchants), Charity (Three Ladies Schools), Administration (Tusk Council) or a whole community (The Hamlet of Bunbury)
Marriage - while many other faiths offer marriage ceremonies few offer marriage contracts in the same way as the Church of Abadar. While details of the contract are worked out in advance, it is traditional to sign the contract as part of the marriage ceremony. Some contracts are signed by the bride. Groom, their parents and representatives of the Families.
Adoption - A contract that recognizes the adoption of an individual into a family. This is a device often used by noble families to reward service or special deeds. This contract binds the lord to reward and honour the new member of their family, while the adoptee promises to be a loyal member of the House and serve the lord loyally. Adoption must always be agreed by the head of the house, and signed by their representative.