Note: This is an OOC document produced as part of the Purple Monday project, borrowed for the purpose of enhancing Stormwind City's roleplay on Moon Guard US. All credit should be given to the Purple Monday group of the Earthen Ring EU server. Everything presented is only a proposition.
The Process of JusticeEdit
One moment you're walking the streets, minding your own business, and the next you're surrounded by a jeering crowd with a rope around your neck. It's a funny old life. But what happens in between? How does a free man go from being arrested to being held, tried, or sentenced? We hope to elaborate here, following the accused from the moment of arrest right up to the moment of conviction.
It's desirable that structure is provided to roleplay and that both guards and thieves alike are able to consult and play to a written code of justice. At the same time, that code must be as conducive to RP – which includes being loreful – as it can possibly be. Therefore, our intention, as in the Punishments document, has been in part to minimise downtime; roleplaying a criminal shouldn't mean you have to stop roleplaying. Getting arrested should be part of the game, and as fun (or at least almost as fun) as getting away.
A citizen is under arrest as soon as a guardsman tells him so. Guards might place someone under arrest on suspicion that the law has been or is being broken, based on behaviour and circumstances that they might witness, on knowledge of past offences, or simply on a warrant that is issued by a magistrate. In any case, they should always verbally demand surrender first, and once that's done, they're entitled to use reasonable force to bring the perp in if he refuses to come quietly. The advisable form for verbal arrest is “[Citizen's name], I am placing you under arrest for [offence]” - but “you're nicked” will also do in a pinch.
The citizen is then brought to the Command Centre, whereupon he is held - probably in the cell there - until he is formally charged with an offence (while held, citizens have few protections against Guard treatments, but that serious physical force must be authorised, and that a healer must be provided when a suspect or a prisoner's life is in peril).
Accompanying a guardsman to the Command Centre doesn't mean you're being arrested – as we said, you have to be told that specifically. Guardsmen can also ask citizens to come along to give a witness statement, or to be brought in for questioning. They can technically refuse both, but in the latter case, they could be charged with obstruction of justice if they don't oblige.
Because citizens in Stormwind have the right of Habeas Corpus, they can't be held for more than one hour without formally being charged with an offence against the King's Peace. This should be enough time for guards to work out their evidence and what charge to bring, especially since there aren't any solid guidelines as to when they can and cannot charge someone (as in the real world). You don't need much evidence to bring a charge, whereas you need quite a lot to get a conviction. If the guards can't come up with a charge, the perp goes free. Note that the hour begins when the perp enters the Command Centre.
A useful tactic suggests itself here. Guards can arrest a citizen, and then simply release him without charge after an hour has passed. It's a good method for shaking people up, or impressing upon them the importance of lawful conduct, without actually going through the rigmarole of prosecuting them. It could also be used to break up demonstrations or suspicious gatherings. Best of all, it reduces the workload for magistrates.
Once the citizen has been charged, there are three ways to treat him.
Although offences are not formally identified as being on any particular level – we want magistrates to have flexibility in punishing, oh, we don't know, serial loiterers – there are three 'layers' of crime for the purposes of how the accused should be handled.
Petty crimes are those unimportant offences which require no magistrate to judge them. Instead, a guard officer can decide them very quickly and according to the law, after which he can hand out either a caution, a fine, or a confiscation on the spot (see 'Stormwind Punishments'). The proceeding should be briefly recorded.
The majority of crimes, up to and including murder, for which corporal punishments and capital punishments may be given. In these cases the accused should either be let out on bail, or detained in prison – both of which we'll get to later. At some later date, then, they will go before a magistrate, who will judge them in a trial of inquisition (see 'Stormwind Courts').
There should be some area set aside for these proceedings, and we don't think it should be in the noisy old CC. Good locations might be the top-floor office of the Town Hall in the Cathedral district, or even a cleared cell in the Stockade itself. The proceedings should always be attended by at least one Guard, and the accused should be thoroughly searched before entering them.
On the recommendation of the guard or a magistrate, and with the permission of the Lord Magistrate, indictable crimes can be tried with the adversarial system, in public or otherwise.
The gravest offences, including serious crimes against nobles, any crimes by nobles, and any type of treason. These must be tried by the Lord Magistrate, who will conventionally use the inquisitorial system, but may use the adversarial system (in public or otherwise) at his discretion.
Commoners accused of High Crimes are always jailed, while nobles are always bailed.
When a citizen has been charged with an offence, a guard officer may decide whether or not to let him out on bail. A citizen who has been bailed is free to get back to whatever he occupies his dirty little life with – until his arranged date and time of trial, when he must turn up to receive judgement. However, the citizen will be asked to put up an amount of money, or some property, against which the bail will be 'secured'. If he fails to turn up, or to abide by the conditions of his bail (for example, to stay within the city walls), the money will be taken by the crown.
Usually the bail will be paid by a citizen's friends, or by himself, and although there is nothing to stop a random philanthropist volunteering to put up the sum, there is also nothing to stop the guard from setting the price of bail at some excessive rate which would be difficult to pay. We're quite aware that any roleplayer can simply emote that they have over nine thousand gold, and, further, that they can afford to lose that by breaking bail. Although we've made breaking bail an offence in order to try and discourage such behaviour, we ultimately feel that people can emote anything they like. The question is whether anyone else will bother to acknowledge them.
Furthermore, guards are entitled to be capricious when deciding to grant bail. If they feel that the person in question is, to be blunt, an arsehole, they may simply refuse. Good reasons for refusing to grant bail are: if the citizen has committed a very violent or very serious crime; if the citizen has a history of breaking bail previously; if they have good reason to believe that the citizen will be a danger on the streets; if they have some evidence that the citizen will not turn up for trial. They can also impose conditions on bail – for example, the citizen might have to remain within the city walls, or report to a guardsman every day.
There's an additional OOC circumstance which might affect how likely the guards are to bail someone. That is: are they, the guards, able to do gaol time?
Currently, being put in 'prison' or 'gaol' tends to mean one of two things. Either you have to stop playing your character for a while, or you have to hang around in the chaotic SWG cells. Neither alternative, to our minds, is very pleasing; hence this proposal.
At a regular date – perhaps every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday – the Guard would hold a prison night. These would be staffed by volunteers or according to a rota or a combination of both, whichever works better, since in practice some guards may love the duty and others may hate it. When a criminal is caught who can't be punished on the spot or on the day, he's asked if he's willing to wait until the nearest night. It shouldn't be too far away; perhaps he can level OOC in the meantime. Then, at the appointed time, the appointed guards clear out a big chunk of the Stockade. They then go together as a raid group into the instance with everyone who's been put in prison, whether it's pending trial or even serving a custodial sentence.
The criminals are allocated to cells, preferably more than one per room, while the guards patrol the corridors. Felons are dragged out to go before a magistrate, or to be interrogated, even tortured, while the occasional visitor might be allowed. The magistrates themselves will concentrate on resolving all the cases that have built up since the last prison night, talking both IC and OOC with criminals to arrange a punishment that will be executed at an arranged date and that'll be amenable to both parties. Those who want or warrant a trial can arrange when and where to have it. Any criminals captured by guards on the 'outside', meanwhile, can be thrown straight in gaol and have people to RP with.
What's nice about this is that it provides roleplay for everyone involved, and puts escape attempts in perspective a bit: there's a genuine, proper space in which they might happen by stealth rather than by retarded combat. It also makes long custodial sentences a more attractive option. Being sentenced to two weeks in gaol is rather more palatable if that gaol will be regularly populated; indeed, the opportunity is there to become a permanent gaolbird. Moreover, bail and prison nights compliment each other perfectly. Where the guard do not have the resources, the people or the time to arrange a prison night, they can hand out more bails. When prison nights are possible – which will hopefully be often enough to be worthwhile – they can make good use of them.
That essentially concludes the process; whether our hypothetical citizen has been bailed or gaoled, he will undergo trial, and be found innocent – in which case he may go back to his grubby little life – or found guilty – in which case the time for punishment has come.
As you can see, we want to dispel the feeling that being arrested automatically entails being bent over a desk and vividly ruined, and, doing so, cancel the necessity – that some people seem to feel they are under – nay, the obligation – to violently resist arrest. The speed at which people make their chances even worse by adding 'resisting arrest' and 'attempted murder' to their charge sheet can be truly astounding.
We also want to avoid the OOC motivations for such responses. We hope people will be less likely to act so ridiculously if we minimise the instances in which they are asked to sit tight, stop playing, wait for a magistrate, or whatever. When there is a structure to how criminals can and can't be treated, and where there are opportunities for responses other than fight, flight, or get screwed, RP will develop. It should be allowed to develop at all stages of the process, and all stages should allow for its development. We'll take this principle with us into the next stage of reform: Stormwind Punishments.