King Richard III’s Law

King Richard’s reign as a king may have been cut short for many to fully realise the rules that he created would have a significant influence to the criminal legal system. Those that were introduced are still applied in present day.

What laws were initiated?

The bail system

This was first introduced by the king to protect suspected offenders from imprisonment before trial. The King did not think it was appropriate for offenders of small crimes to be denied of their liberty before trial. In medieval times not all cases came to trial, therefore, this saved suspects from being imprisoned indefinitely.

Proceeds from Crime

The King made it illegal to seize a man’s property until he was convicted of his crimes. This ideal is still present as part of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. This Act provides for the confiscation criminal or civil recovery of the proceeds from crime.

Jury Service

The King ensured that only men of good character and owners of property could serve on a jury. Before this was introduced, the jury system was corrupted and full of bribery.  His influence has helped scope the jury service system today as part of the eligibility criteria.

Legal translation

Thanks to the King, he had statues translated from Latin and French into English. The new translation was then published and displayed in public areas to ensure everyone was able to understand the laws and statutes that governed them.

Sentencing

The King instructed his judges to issue justice without regard to a person’s wealth, power or position in society. This was to ensure justice was imposed on an unbiased basis.

Legal Aid

Richard instigated what would become known as the ‘Court of Requests’ by making himself accessible to the poor who could not afford legal representation. Today, access to legal representation for those who are unable to afford legal assistance is in the form of Legal Aid. This system is the lynchpin to providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and a right to a fair trial.