Crime, punishment and related subjects
Though the human social conditions of over crowding and boredom make ripe breeding grounds for criminal activity, it would seem that the same close confines, combined with ever present technology, would make such activity almost impossible. Such an assumption does not give full credit to human ingenuity. Though the advanced technology of the ships and the Security Patrols make criminal activity difficult it is by no means impossible.
The most common criminal complaints and issues addressed by Security are as follow…
Public Drunkenness or Intoxication: Though not serious it is very, very common especially in the civilian quarters. Penalties are usually fines or loss of privileges rather then imprisonment. Repeat offenders can find themselves sentenced to ‘Therapeutic Rehabilitation’ using various Avoidance Medications.
Theft: By far the most common crime, both from individuals and businesses and from Fleet Supplies. This can range from pickpocket activities, breaking and entry of personal storage or quarters, theft by fraud and deception, shoplifting and pilfering of goods.
In general there are different degrees of Theft and the charge can be compounded by other crimes.
Simple Theft: Goods of value less the 100 cubits. No violence or Breaking and Entering.
Theft: Goods of 100 to 1,000 cubits in value and ANY theft that involves Breaking and Entering.
Major Theft: Goods of 1,000 cubits in value and ANY theft involving Violence.
Breaking and Entering: Unauthorized entrance into living quarters, restricted areas and personal storage lockers and containers.
Contraband and Illegal Substance: Individual distillation of alcoholic beverages is restricted both from a revenue issue (The Fleet Government makes much of its revenue from the sale and taxation of alcohol) and from a safety issue. Improperly distilled alcohol can be dangerous, but more of an issue is the chance of explosion or fire from the manufacturing process and the fact that the organic materials processed in these various stills are usually stolen.
The processing, manufacture, sale and possession of illegal drugs, hallucinogenics, amphetamines, and various other ‘mood’ enhancers is forbidden primarily from safety concerns. In addition to quality and manufacturing issues akin to those with alcohol, individuals who are ‘high’ or ‘tripping’ or otherwise intoxicated, comatose and irresponsible are a positive danger to a society that relies on all its members to be ready to fulfill critical duties in the event of an attack or emergency.
The illegal Drug and Alcohol trade is prevalent through out the Fleet and is winked at by many in all walks of life. When asked most people will tell you that without some type of ‘assist’ the day to day life in the Fleet is so mind numbingly dull that people would go rapidly insane. As a rule of thumb, Security Officers don’t bother making too much of a fuss about someone who is high or buzzed, as long as he or she is not on duty, being a nuisance or creating a danger. Similarly possession of a dose or two of an illegal substance for personal use generally results in confiscation and a lecture or at most a small fine.
The degrees of severity are as follows.
Simple Possession: Having a supply for personal use. Generally confiscation and a warning is the penalty, but if Security thinks the person may be transporting or holding for sale, then they will impose fines.
Possession to Sell or Distribute: Larger quantity then personal use. Can have major fines and prison time.
Manufacture: BIG fines and much prison time.
Simple Assault and Brawling: In the close confines of the ships tempers often flare and things come to blows. As long as there are no weapons used and the participants are evenly matched the Security officers usually won’t do much more then put a stop to the fight and try and help the parties to work it out. On the other hand, beating up a child, or a man attacking a woman, or someone clearly of no match for the attacker, or repeated and escalating incidents are another matter. Penalties can range from fines and mandatory therapy, to imprisonment, depending on the severity. Assaulting a Security Officer is a BIG ‘no, no’ as well. The defining issue of Simple Assault vs Assault is if a weapon is involved.
Assault, Attempted murder, Murder, Manslaughter and Accidental Death
Assault is any violence that occurs and employs a weapon. This can be a knife, a chair leg, broken bottle or a blaster.
If BOTH parties are using weapons and no one gets killed the charges in that case will be Assault.
If ONE party employs a weapon and the other does not, but no one gets killed, then the charge CAN be upgraded to Attempted Murder.
If BOTH parties are using weapons and someone does get killed, the charge can be EITHER Murder or Manslaughter as the situation warrants.
If ONE party uses a weapon to kill an unarmed individual the charge is usually Murder (though there can be mitigating circumstances.) Or, if the deliberate and reckless acts of an individual, in clear violation of safety and regulations, kills some one. The charge can be Murder.
Accidental Death is when the actions of a person has the unintended consequences of killing someone.
Self Defense or Defense of Others: This is an acceptable defense and can apply in a number of cases.
Gambling: There are no moral or ethical issues with gambling in Colonial culture (There are cultural groups that feel otherwise though), Chanceries (casinos) exist on a number of ships and formal and informal lotteries and pools are run on many ships. The problem with most unofficial private gambling, as far as Security is concerned, is the side effects of theft and violence that often result from gambling. Some ships prohibit private gambling entirely (depending on the mores of the bulk of the passengers) in most though as long as there are no more then five players and the ‘pot’ or prize totals less then 100 cubits, the Security Officers will ignore it.
Prostitution: Like gambling, most Colonial culture does not regard prostitution as a crime, though there are religious and cultural groups who do. And like gambling the attitude of the authorities often various from ship to ship. In general, if it is not prohibited completely, the rules concerning prostitution are simple. Both parties must be willing, consenting and competent adults. No underage individuals. If one party in inebriated, high or incoherent they are not consenting or willing.
The law DOES NOT view Socialators as prostitutes.
Conspiracy: A charge that is added to two or more people who participate in a crime.
Reckless Endangerment: An act of stupid negligence that could cause injury to others. Example, failing to lock a restricted area.
Risking a Catastrophe: A DELIBERATE act that puts others at risk. Example, turning off Fire Suppression systems. (Which is often done to operate Stills.)
Disorderly Conduct and Public Nuisance: These catch all charges are used to control behavior that otherwise does not fall under other charges.
Possession of Instruments of Criminal Activity: A number of items fall into this category. Unregistered Blasters, concealable blasters, concealed Numos, Bone Knife, Scan Proof containers, Electronic Lockpick, manual lockpick, Hacking Computer, Secured Scrambled Private Communicator, Override Codes, CTC Cracker, False Id, equipment for manufacturing illegal substances, unauthorized possession of a Security Scanner.
Depending on the item and circumstances, the penalty can range from minor fines to major prison time.
Rape and Sexual Assault:
Considered a special instance of Assault it is punishable by imprisonment and mandatory Therapy and Catharsis Treatments.
Extortion: Using violence or the threat of violence to self or others to induce payments or other coerced activities.
Bribery: (Accepting, Soliciting, Inducing) Paid to public officials to induce favors
Tax Evasion: There are taxes in the Fleet, but they are primarily consumption based and take the form of sales taxes. Most evaders are merchants and craftsmen. Punishment is generally a fine and confiscation of withheld taxes and goods.
Powers and Limits of the Security Officers
Open and search any unlocked or unsealed container or public storage area (such as a broom closet, equipment locker etc.)
Scan any sealed or locked container and area.
Scan any individual.
Physically search any individual IF they have reason to suspect concealment of contraband, weapons, evidence or unlawful devices. Reason includes a positive scan result, information or suspicious actions.
Arrest, restrain and detain any individual suspected of or involved in a crime or criminal activity. Or anyone for whom an Arrest Warrant has been issued. And employ any force needed, up to and including Deadly Force to accomplish this goal.
Monitor any and all electronic communications.
With a Warrant, search any living space or locked or sealed container.
May hold a suspect up to 12 centars for ‘Informative Detention’ before charging them.
A suspect in custody MUST be permitted Legal Representation if requested.
Physical Torture is prohibited.
With a proper ‘Interrogation Warrant’ questions may be asked with a suspect being Truth Scanned and/or with the administration of Brain Scan and Truth Serum. A legal representative of the suspect must be present. All proceedings must be recorded and medical assistance must be immediately available.
Warrants are issued by Magistrates upon request of the Security Protector (Prosecutor) they must be issued for specific individuals, purposes and of limited duration and expanse. A valid reason must be documented for issuance. In general, Search Warrants are easily obtained though it is time consuming. Interrogation and Arrest Warrants are much harder to get.
Citizens Rights & Duties
A Citizen has a,
Right to Protection by the Law and the Fleet.
Right to Reasonable Privacy: Warrants are required to search belongings
Right to Freedom of Faith
Right to Freedom of Assembly: For Lawful Purposes
Right to Freedom of Speech: Within limits of libel, slander and public safety.
Right to Representation: Having legal counsel, an Opposer, present during proceedings.
Right to Due Process and Just Compensation: This includes a Jury Trial in certain instances.
Right to Vote
Right to Basic Needs: GA, air, water, food, living necessities and medical treatment.
Duty to Obey the Law
Duty to Protect the Ship he or she lives on
Duty of Racial Preservation: This means that every adult human must do one, or if possible both, of the following. Produce a child or children in their lifetime. OR provide sufficient Genetic Material (Sperm Eggs, cells) to allow offspring to be produced or a Clone created, at some time in the future. This Duty was imposed by the Council to ensure that adequate Genetic Diversity would remain to rebuild the human race when the Fleet finally found a new home world.
Military personnel and Auxiliaries are answerable to Commander’s Court. Civilians are brought before Magistrates.
A Magistrate has the authority to sign Warrants, bind over for trial and conduct a Criminal or Civil Trial.
Most large ships have at least one Magistrate on them, along with appropriate clerks, etc. Small ships fall under the jurisdiction of one of these Magistrates or one located on the Astral Queen.
Minor crimes are heard directly by the Magistrate while in major cases the accused has the right to request a Jury Trial.
A Jury Trial employs six Citizens and three alternates, to decide Guilt or Innocence.
The Protector (Prosecutor) represents the Law/Fleet/The Council etc. He or she presents the governments case to the Magistrate and Jury.
The Opposer (Defense Attorney) represents the accused. He or she defends the accused against the charges.
Fines can be small, from about 25 cubits ($25) to enormous, 1,000,000 cubits or more.
Prison terms, served on the Astral Queen, are generally for 2 hetari or longer. Shorter sentences are often carried out using the brigs on other ships.
Loss of privileges usually refers to travel between ships, restricted communications or access to recreational facilities.
Additionally sentences may include mandatory therapy, Catharsis Treatments, counseling and can include Public Service and labor.
The Astral Queen
The ship houses much of the legal bureaucracy of the Fleet including, Security Headquarters, Maximum Security prison, Seat of the Appeals Court and Superior Court as well as many regular Magistrates.