Warhammer 40k Forum and Wargaming Forums banner

21 - 22 of 22 Posts

Bruva I am hit!
582 Posts
Discussion Starter #22
I should point out that, in classic fluff, the Adeptus Arbites did not prosecute normal crime. They only prosecuted crime that was committed against the Imperium, and could not care less about crime - to include felonies or even capital crimes and such - that fell under the planet's "jurisdiction".

This is the reason why Precincts were typically described as having only a hundred or so Arbites and perhaps only one Judge per planet. The sort of crime I can imagine them investigating?

1. Crime against any branch of the Adeptus Terra.
2. Crime that interferes with the planetary Tithe.
3. Crime committed by members of the planetary government (rebellion, piracy, interstellar smuggling, etc.).
4. Crime committed against the planetary government (protests, sedition, rebellion, piracy, interstellar smuggling, etc.).

Know what I mean? It would have to be pretty heavy stuff - or, ironically enough, even petty crime... so long as it involved the Adeptus Terra or other authorities of the Imperium. Local cops (perhaps modeled after the Adeptus Arbites) would handle anything that started and ended within the planet and didn't involve Imperial authorities. I'm not saying an Arbites would watch a murderer gun down normal people and do nothing. If someone ran out of their shop screaming that someone robbed them, though? I doubt the Arbites would bat an eye.
That was my impression as well; with limited resources and personnel, the Arbites have to prioritize violent crimes and threats against the authority of the Adeptus Terra. Millions of crimes against the Emperor is still a lot though, needless to say. It got me thinking (and leave it to me to cause a storm about legal matters in the Imperium).

1. What room then is left for the planetary government to enact penal law? Given the amount of autonomy planetary governors are given in running the planet, it seems like there's little left to handle except for sumptuary law, weregild, etc. depending on the classification of a world. And there's the Ecclesiarchy to take into consideration regarding morality law...

2. In Dr. Reginald Shareef's Free Riding: Why MBA's Rule The World (which is primarily about a different subject altogether), there is a discussion about the limited resources of police departments and how most of these resources are allocated towards the stopping and prosecuting of violent crimes. Morality crimes such as prostitution or adultery get far less attention because there is not enough economic incentive for police to arrest and for attorneys to prosecute people over them. For example, in Virginia, adultery is a class 4 misdemeanor, the lowest class of misdemeanor, and is punishable by a maximum fine of $250.

I find it ironic that the Adeptus Arbites would be facing a similar issue regarding "morality" law, heresy and rebellion notwithstanding, and the prioritization of violent crime and crimes against the Adeptus Terra. Strictly speaking, do they?

3. All of this should be completely obvious to me - the Imperium is a dominion of brutal and draconian law where individual life holds negligible value. However, I was genuinely surprised when I saw the list of crimes against the Emperor. I'm starting to feel like the Imperium's harshness is told more often than it is shown. Sure, you have the use of Exterminatus against planets about to fall to Chaos or Xenos incursion with no chance of reclamation, or the killing of Imperial subjects on account of xenos or warp taint, but of the lowest levels of Imperial life, I have seen little. Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough - is anyone able to point me somewhere where I could learn more? Thanks in advance!
21 - 22 of 22 Posts