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Justice, Court, Punishment Illustration

Maya Empire for Kids
Justice, Court,
Punishment

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In the Maya Empire, in each city, the laws were the same. Laws were fair. Nearly everyone was subject to the same laws, even the lesser nobles. If you broke a law, a judge would hear your case. Evidence was provided for you and against you. You could help collect evidence that proved you were innocent, just as the other side could collect evidence to prove you were guilty.

Should you be found guilty, you were punished. Punishments varied with the crime. If you were found guilty of stealing from someone, you became a captive of your victim. Sometimes the punishment was to have your hair cut very short. Until your hair grew out again, everyone who saw you knew you had committed a crime. It was very embarrassing.

That was the system and that's how things were supposed to work. But in reality, the nobles could afford to bring little gifts for the court. That might help them, it might not. The murder of a slave was not treated with the same importance as the murder of a farmer or a nobleman. But most courts tried to be fair to everyone.

Murder was rare because the punishment was so severe. If found guilty of murder, murders could be killed or suffer the same fate as their victim. But, the family of the victim did have the option of an award in goods or land instead. They could even be awarded a family compound, complete with goods, cattle, and fields, and leave an entire family with no place to live as the result of a found guilty verdict against one member of that entire family.

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