Note: This is a 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.
In Stormwind Law, Legal Defence refers to the four principal defences that can be pled by a defendant in a Stormwind criminal court. Upon a certain charge he will be allowed to respond with a request that they be taken into consideration. Each, however, carries its own standards of proof and circumstance.
Provocation is a partial defence to murder, formulated thus: “Wer upon a charge of murther the courte shoulden find, the accusen was prouoked (wer that by words, by deedes, or by both together) to lose control of hym selfe, the courte shall therfor ask wer that the prouocasiun was suffiycient to make a reasonable man do as dyd the accusen, and, findyng that it was, shall reduce his charge to that of man-slaughter.”In sum, this resolves into two elements:
- The accused must be shown to have suffered a sudden and temporary loss of self-control, rendering himself so subject to passion as to prevent him of being master of his mind.
- The provocation should be such that a reasonable man would would also have suffered such passions.
Provocation may also be used as a defence to offences upon the person (such as assault), in which case a successful defence should serve to lower the sentence.
Self-Defence is a complete defence to all types of assault and to murder (by convention; there is no precedent preventing it from being pled to any other violent crime). Any citizen is entitled to use force, which is truly reasonable in the circumstances as he believes them to be, in order:
- to protect himself, others, or his property from unlawful and imminent danger;
- to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
- in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling an imminent riot or insurrection.
The question of whether the force was 'reasonable' or not is an objective one, while the question of what the accused believed the circumstances were is a subjective one. That is, it is no defence that he believes (wrongly) that his force is reasonable, but it is a defence that he believes (wrongly) that he needed to protect himself.
Courts have tended to interpret “reasonable force” as “tit for tat” - if a man is attacked with a blade, he is usually held to have the right to draw his own, but will not usually be acquitted for stabbing another who has tried to slap him in the face.
Duress is a complete defence to most offences, save for murder and any form of treason. Under it, a citizen may claim that he did not have the guilty mind for the charges which he faces, because an unlawful threat or coercion was used to induce him to act in a manner which he otherwise would not have.
However, in order to prove duress (and the burden of proof lies with the accused), four requirements must be met:
- The threat must be found to have been of serious bodily harm or death, either to the accused, or to one of his close family.
- The harm that is threatened must be greater than the harm caused by the crime.
- The thread must be immediate, and inescapable.
- The accused must have become involved in the situation through no fault of his own.
This is a full defence to almost all crimes, and came about as a legal doctrine in order to deal with criminals who were possessed, insane, or otherwise driven against their will to commit offences against the King's Peace. Essentially, a citizen who commits an offence under a 'malign influence', which completely overpowers his reason, will be held to be free from prosecution for actions which were not truly under his control.
The burden of proof rests with the accused to show, firstly, that he was not responsible for the actions that formed the commission of an offence, and, secondly, that he was not responsible that the circumstances which led to his being influenced to commit such actions. Note that he must show he was not responsible for the specific actions; showing that he was generally not responsible at the general time that the offence was committed is not necessarily sufficient, although is usually counted as strong evidence in his favour.
If the accused can show that he attempted to resist or 'break free' of the influence, this will greatly help his case.
Though succeeding in this defence will absolve the citizen of his crimes, he will also be bound to be confined in the Holy Cathedral (or in other care, for instance a mage or physician, by approval of the Lord Magistrate) until he is deemed to be no threat upon his release. His keepers shall have the right to use reasonable methods in attempting to free him of whatever influence he has been under.