The Trial Process
When a law is suspected of being broken in ME there are specific rules for opening and prosecuting that crime in any Kingdom’s Court of Law. The four roles who are integral to this Trial Process are the Judge, the Prosecutor, the Defendant and the Witnesses.
The Judge is the one appointed IG; he/she is the President of the court of justice and is responsible for delivering the final verdict of every trial. Verdicts given by the Judge should attempt to impartially weigh the Kingdom’s posted Laws against the body of evidence provided by both the Defense and Prosecution. The Judge must be present in the region where the trial is made for all the duration of the Trial.
The Prosecutor is the person or institution who arraigns the Defendant. The Prosecutor can appoint a Barrister who will pursue the prosecution. The appointed Barrister can be chosen only among the citizens of the country in which the trial is made or among the citizens with the same nationality as the Prosecutor. It is not necessary for the Prosecutor/Barrister to be present in the region where the trial is made.
NOTE: In case of crimes against Institutions, the Prosecutor can be the Captain of the Guard, the Vassal or even the Regent himself or any other role that represents the institution. They can still appoint a Barrister.
The Defendant is the person or Institution which is accused of committing a crime. The Defendant upon receiving notification of his trial may choose to defend himself on the forum, or he may appoint a Defense Attorney to act in his place. The role of the Defendant or Attorney in the trial is to present facts or evidence which will refute the Prosecution’s case against them during the Trial. The appointed Barrister can be chosen only among the citizens of the country in which the trial is made or among the citizens with the same nationality as the Defendant. It is not necessary for the Attorney to be present in the region where the trial is made.
NOTE: In the case of crimes committed by Institutions, the Defendant can be the Captain of the Guard, the Vassal or even the Regent himself or any other role that represents the institution. They can still appoint an Attorney.
When and how is a Trial opened?
Any person who is a witness to a crime, a victim of criminal activity, or a victim of unfair treatment may contact a Judge of the Kingdom where the crime is committed to present all relevant facts and evidence. The Judge then decides whether the facts and/or evidence provided against a suspect merit the opening of a Trial. If so the Judge then opens that trial in the appropriate Kingdom Court of Law sub-forum. He must then notify both the Defendant and the Prosecutor via PM of the trial along with a URL link to the pertinent trial post.
Also the Judge of the Kingdom where the trial is taking place must use the in-game functions of the Court House building menu to create the Crime Procedure. In the form he needs to fill out:
- The name of the Defendant
- A summary of the crime(s) he is accused of
- The URL link to the Trial
Once submitted, the Judge can go back to the Court menu to view and administer the Crime Procedure. When the trial has ended it is from this screen where the Judge sends out the Arrest Warrant, cancels the procedure, and/or imprisons the defendant.
In order to keep the defendant from leaving town during his trial, the "victim" (or the Judge, when opening the trial) can contact the Guard Captain, who may at any time choose to perform a Restrain act upon the defendant in order to keep that defendant within the country for a period of up to 168 hours.
NOTE: Even if the max duration of a Trial should be 144 hours, it is possible for the Trial to continue past the 168-hour window of a Restrain act. Once a Restrain act has been lifted, the defendant should not leave town while his Trial is still active or the Trial will end immediately with a Guilty verdict automatically administered.
The Guard Captain may also choose to perform a Confiscate the Market Goods act(s) upon the defendant if the laws of the country give him that authority. In that case, the Guard Captain holds those goods for safekeeping during the trial pending the resulting verdict.
The maximum duration of a Trial is 144 hours. A trial schedule may be shortened or increased if all the involved parties agree.
The Trial must live as a Role-Play in the appropriate Kingdom High Court sub-board. Every Trial concerning cities of each Kingdom will take place in this sub-forum. Each step should be concluded within 24 hours of the previous step.
NOTE: If the Prosecution or the Defense does not post within the expected time for a given step, the Judge MUST proceed to the next step in the process as soon as he can.
If the Judge does not post within 12 hours more then the expected time, the Punishment must take into account the longer restrain (the Defendant should not leave the Kingdom until the trial is closed) and will be reduced.
If the Judge does not post for more than 48 hours, then the Trial must be considered not valid.
If there is a suspicion that longer time has been voluntarily used, the trial could be considered invalid by the Supreme Court.
The seven Trial steps are as follows:
1: Starting the Trial:
The Judge starts the Trial. He must present the Defendant and the Prosecutor and ask them if they want to appoint an Attorney (Defense) or a Barrister (Prosecution).
NOTE: In case that any of the characters involved in the trial were already in meditation before the trial started, the Trial can't be opened and the judge should open a pre-advice (a post where is a reminder that a case has been opened). If the accused goes in Meditation AFTER the Trial is open and AFTER he has been informed about the Trial, the trial can go on.
The Defendant and the Prosecutor must declare if they want to appoint someone or not, and tell the Judge who they are appointing.
Also, if the Defendant and the Prosecutor can’t find lawyers and can’t speak the native language of the Judge or of the other Parts, they can ask to have a “Basic English” trial, so that it could be understood using common translating tools.
This whole step must be done within 24 hours from the Judge’s opening post.
NOTE: If the Defendant and/or Prosecutor choose to appoint an Attorney and/or a Barrister, they won’t take part in the process anymore if not called as Witnesses.
2: Opening remarks by the Prosecution:
The Prosecution should open the trial with a presentation of the facts of the case, and a listing of what laws were broken by the Defendant. All evidence should be presented at this time and may take the form of a Screenshot (see sidebar).
The Prosecution can call up to two Witnesses, who will present their witness.
This whole step must be done within 24 hours from the Prosecutor post.
3: Opening remarks by the Defense:
The Defense should state their side of the case at this time and present any evidence which they have that refutes the facts or evidence which the Prosecution has presented. All evidence should be presented at this time and may take the form of a Screenshot (see sidebar).
The Defense can call up to two Witnesses, who will present their witness.
This whole step must be done within 24 hours from the Defense post.
4: Judge reflections:
The Judge can ask some more explanation to the Parts. Answers will be given in the following steps.
Otherwise, the Judge can simply say to go on with the Trial.
These steps must be done within 12 hours.
5: Closing remarks by the Prosecution:
The Prosecution then may attempt to refute the presented facts/evidence of the Defense and may also ask up to 3 direct questions to the Defendant for which to answer. The Prosecution will then finish with their closing remarks.
This step must be done within 24 hours.
6: Closing remarks by the Defense:
The Defense then may attempt to further refute the presented facts/evidence of the Prosecution and may answer any of the questions that the Prosecution has asked. The Defendant is not under any obligation to do so, however, failure to answer questions could be interpreted by the Judge as an admission of guilt. The Defense will then finish with their closing remarks.
This step must be done within 24 hours.
7: Verdict by the Judge:
The judge then weighs the facts and evidence presented by both parties and renders the Verdict. The Verdict can either be Guilty or Not-Guilty.
If the Judge delivers a Guilty Verdict, he must then notify the Guard Captain of the Verdict and the terms of the penalty in order to proceed to the Imprisonment or Arrest Warrant.
If the Judge delivers a Not-Guilty Verdict, he must order the Guard Captain to release and/or reverse any Restrain or Confiscate the Market Goods acts which have been performed on the Defendant.
The Trial now is officially closed.
Closing of the Trial and Crime Procedure
Once notified of the Trial’s end, the Judge then administers the Crime Procedure and in the case of the delivery of a Guilty Verdict he then can Imprison the Defendant directly or if the Defendant has left town then he may issue an Arrest Warrant for which to return him to town.
Upon receiving an Arrest Warrant the Guard Captain can now perform an Arrest act anywhere in Europe upon the guilty Defendant which will transport them both back to the Court House city/town and automatically Restrain the Defendant for 168 hours until the Judge is able to Imprison the Defendant. More information on the Arrest Process can be found in the associated [Court#Arresting_a_criminal|Arrest Article].
In the case of a Not-Guilty Verdict the Judge simply closes the Crime Procedure and the Defendant is free to go.
- Only the Magistrate, Prosecutor, Defendant, appointed Prosecution Barrister, or appointed Defense Attorney and called Witnesses may speak during a trial. Whoever speaks without permission can be fined 100 silver coins at the Judge's discretion, and they could be even punished for breaking forum rules. The fine will be collected by Guglielmo di Valenza, by force if needed.
- Trials that don't follow the hereby described procedure may be considered void by ME Administration and the Supreme Court of Europe.