Civilian Law

Civilian Law

Civilians who commit crimes on the civilian ships, as well as military personnel who commit crimes against civilians, may be tried and punished under the civilian legal system.

Prosecutor's Office

The government's chief law enforcement officer is the Fleet Prosecutor. He represents the government in criminal cases and is charged with defending the public peace. To aid in this task, he is joined by a group of clerks and associate prosecutors and together make up the Prosecutor's Office.

Fleet Police

Subordinate to the Fleet Prosecutor is the Chief of Police. He is responsible for the everyday preservation of law and order and supervises the Fleet's professional, armed police force. The force is functionally divided into stations, with each station (one per ship) commanded by a captain. The ranks of the police are: Chief, Captain, Lieutenant, Inspector, Sergeant, Officer

Defense Counsel

The accused has the right to defense counsel. There is no public defender's office. The accused is assigned an attorney, selected at random from the pool of all attorneys who are not part of the Prosecutor's Office. This attorney is paid for by the government. If the accused wishes to hire their own attorney, they may do so out of their own pocket.


Judges are appointed by a Fleet Council and preside over all trials. To assure impartiality, judges are appointed for long terms and may only be removed for egregious improprieties.


Criminal Charges

In Colonial law, crimes are not committed against individuals but rather against the public peace. Offenders are brought to trial by the Prosecutor's Office, in the name of the government, and not by the offended party. For example: The Prosecutor's Office will be the one pressing charges for assault, not the person who was assaulted.

Civil Suits

At the present time, civil suits (i.e. one person suing another for damages) are not handled by the justice system, only criminal charges. Civil matters may be brought before the Ship Captain or the Fleet Council.


A police officer must get a warrant (signed by a judge) to search private property or arrest someone. The only exceptions are if there is immediate danger (for example: a scream heard from within a residence) or if the officer directly witnesses a crime being committed.

Arraignment and Bail

Once arrested, the accused is arraigned in front of a judge within 48 hours. At the arraignment, the accused enters a plea: guilty, not guilty, or no contest (same punishment as pleading guilty but technically you aren't convicted of the crime). Normally people are released while awaiting trial, so there is really no bail. The prosecutors, however, can argue at the arraignment that the accused is a danger to the Fleet and should be kept until trial. The judge has the final say.


If the defendant pleads not guilty, the matter goes to trial, usually after a few weeks to give both sides time to prepare their cases. Criminal court is an adversarial process in which the prosecutor and defense counsel argue their case in front of a neutral judge. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. The government must prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the accused committed the crime. Because of the Fleet's special circumstances, a trial by jury is not recognized. A single judge hears the case and decides the verdict and the punishment.


With resources limited as they are, having prisoners languish in cells without contributing back to society is problematic. The death penalty is also frowned upon, given the already dismal number of human beings left in the Fleet. Forced labor, fines, limited confinement (i.e., being let out only to work), loss of privileges (like improved housing) and other creative punishments are all possible punishments.

A verdict may be appealed once. A court of appeals convenes as a committee of three judges that hear matters of law and not of fact. For example, a verdict may be overturned if it is found that the prosecutor mislabeled evidence.


With the Fleet as small as it is and military and civilian personnel shuttling back and forth, jurisdiction can be murky.

Genesis Military Police officially have no jurisdiction aboard the civilian ships, nor any official duties. Their rights as police end the moment they leave the Genesis (or any other military installation) with one exception, described at the bottom.

Think of it like a cop from New York traveling to London. He becomes subject to UK laws, so if UK laws say that citizens can't carry guns, he would have to surrender his firearm unless the London Police made a special exception for him. Any investigations he would perform on his own would be purely as a regular citizen, and if the London PD found out he was going around questioning their citizens and collecting evidence without letting them know and working with them, they would be justifiably pissed off.

Now, if they were working jointly on a case, the London PD could allow him to tag along while they went around asking questions and might allow him to carry his sidearm (except that this is London and the cops don't carry sidearms… but that's a separate matter), but that's entirely at the pleasure of the London PD.

Side note: Conversely, the Fleet Police has no jursidicition aboard the Genesis or any of the other military vessels.

The one exception that makes things all murky: MPs do have jurisdiction over military personnel, regardless of where they are. That means they can go over to arrest an AWOL pilot, for example, or a wayward engineer that started a fight in somewhere. If the military person committed a crime against a civilian on civilian ground, there's joint jurisdiction and usually the courts will cede jurisdiction to one side or the other.

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