“Understand this: we have only one crime in the Empire. That crime is choice-theft.
“Underlying every principle of our law, more fundamental even than the Contract and the Charter, is jírileth – the principle of liberty. The principle that all sophonts, all with reason and will, should be afforded the greatest possible scope within which to act in accordance with their qalasír, so long as by doing so they do not impair the scope of another so to act. Thus, the nature of all crime is to deprive one’s fellow soph of some portion of his scope of will.
“Of course, there are eighty enumerated charges defined by the Convention and later law, not simply one charge with myriad variations, but you should understand that these exist merely for administrative convenience. Examine the five divisions, beginning with the three major:
“To kill, injure, constrain or coerce someone directly is an obvious impairment of their will; these are the crimes against the person, and they are all types of choice-theft.
“To steal, destroy, damage, trespass or meddle is to deprive a person of the full use of their property, and in turn – since all one’s goods, tangible or intangible, agent or chattel, serve as tools by which one may expand the scope of one’s will, and wealth most of all – to deprive them of the full range of choices which they might make, again impairing their will; these are the crimes against property, and they, too, are all types of choice-theft.
“To default, defraud, defame, counterfeit, or deceive is to deprive a person of obligation or truth, those contracts upon which they might rely in choosing their future course, and that knowledge which they need to make valid choices, which again both broaden the scope of the will, which is in turn impaired by breaches and lies; these are the crimes against contract, and they once again are all types of choice-theft.
“And finally, the minor orders, the crimes against the Charter and against order, which concern themselves with violations of the obligations which citizen-shareholders take upon themselves upon signing the Imperial Charter, whether directly, in the former case, or where the Empire’s management of public volumes and utilities is concerned, in the latter. These are no more than special cases of crimes against property or contract, and so, like those, are all types of choice-theft.
“On this all else is based. You will study all of the enumerated charges and their combinations and variants in your time here, and you will go on to address many of them in your future careers, but you should never forget this simple truth. Despite the complexities of one precedent chain or another, of one set of specialized rules attached to a particular implementation of a particular extended charge, or of any particular case, ultimately, the Curia and its courts care about two simple questions:
“Was there an intent to remove someone’s choices?
“Whose choices were removed, and to what extent?
“Address yourself to these two, simple, fundamental questions rather than the technicalities, nail those answers down, and speak them clearly, and you will prosper in the profession. Thank you.”
– Ephor Valarian Elarios-ith-Elarios. matriculation address at the Bar Iseléne Academy of Principle