Author’s Note: Atomic Law

For those with a curiosity as to why this automatically constitutes three or four crimes rather than one, at least in legal terms, the answer is that the Imperial legal system, unlike ours, works very hard to make its charges atomic. That is to say, each individual part of the criminal act gives rise to one, and only one, charge which can then be conveniently assembled into a proper reflection of the totality, without punishing anything twice or not at all. Apart from avoiding the obvious abusability of overlapping systems – such as our habit of stacking on multiple overlapping charges to ramp up the total sentence and encourage plea bargaining – to do otherwise would be almost painfully inelegant and irrational.

(And when you position as a law provider depends on your ability to convince people of your law-providing arete, that is not an appearance you wish to give. Well, not to eldrae, anyway. Humans seem to have more tolerance for that sort of thing.)

So those three crimes mentioned down there, would be the rape, the battery which enabled you to carry it out (assuming, in this case, the use of violence), and the proximal assault which the battery almost certainly implied. Of course, in other cases, instead of that proximal-assault-and-battery, you might instead see charges of pharmaceutical-mediated battery, if coercive aphrodisiacs or incapacitors were involved, or coercion (in the duress sense), or even fraud, for that matter, because in Imperial praxis, lying your way into someone’s bed is every bit as much rape as any of the others, and they’ll execute you for that, too.

Of course, if we’re being purely pragmatic about it, the fine details of the charging system doesn’t matter all that much where this particular class of crime is concerned. (In the ancient days, it might have made the difference between “we’ll offer you a mercy-draught of hemlock and a fast pyre” and “we’ll smoulder you to death over the course of a couple of weeks just to emphasize how VERY VERY MUCH we disapprove of this sort of thing”, but everyone’s much more civilized now and realizes that this sort of thing is impolite, uncivilized, redundant, and no additional deterrent.)

But justice has to be seen to be done, and it has to be seen to be done right – which is to say, in accordance with mélith, the principle that each shall receive exactly as they merit. And so, one must necessarily determine that – even if the debt they accrue happens to, and is known to, substantially exceed their life.