Integrated Wisdom

Suing in Ancient Rome

The trial was usually held outdoors — as we said, street theater. At this point you can have a lawyer step in to argue your case, and you probably would have bribed a few witnesses to give yourself a little advantage. Witnesses did not swear an oath, so they didn’t have to tell the truth by law. If caught lying, the punishment was probably something they could live with — they weren’t allowed to serve as a witnesses ever again.

It is now up to you to prove this was a crime and not a mistake, that is, your cell phone was stolen, not just found. You bring in evidence, present your bribed witnesses, and talk about the defendant’s family background, because bloodline is everything to Romans, just as with thoroughbreds. Of course, since the defendant is doing the same thing, deep pockets will be needed to “prove” your case — pay for more evidence and witnesses, etc..

If the magistrate rules that it was a mistake, not theft, then the defendant might still have to pay a fine. If theft is proven, then the he is guilty of a criminal offence, and he could be subjected to a variety of penalties. He might also have to reimburse you with coin, usually about 4-5 times the value of the stolen item. However, even if you won the case and were awarded cash, you would be responsible for collecting the damages.

Good luck with that.

To Learn more about the Roman legal system, go to crystalinks.com  or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_law

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