No, /I/ am Spartacus
No! I did it!
…I just felt like participating.
No, I did it!
(If I confuse things enough, they can’t convict anyone and we’ll ALL go free! That guy deserved what he got anyways.)
(In the billiard room, with the candlestick)
“No, I did it!”
(No one will expect ME to confess! I don’t even know what the crime was!)
*stays very quiet in a corner*
OMG WE FOUND THE GUY WHO ACTUALLY DID IT.
(There’s no telling what the Mob will do to me if I don’t take the rap!)
(perjury, that is… I didn’t kill anyone)
However, if I may be insufferably pedantic, peine forte et dure was not used as torture to exact a confession, but rather to force you to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty (so the official proceedings could take place). But I’m getting ahead of myself…
So, if I don’t enter a plea, official proceedings can’t take place? Or was that only back then? When’d it change?
Yes, a plea is a necessary formality. Back in the old days, if you didn’t plea one way or the other, they’d pile rocks on your chest until you did or died. Some preferred death — if you pled and lost, for example, all of your property could be forfeited, but if you refused to plea and died, at least your family got to keep your lands and stuff.
This was a really impractical way of doing things, and eventually courts started entering a plea FOR you if you remained silent. At first it was a plea of guilty, but that was kinda harsh, so eventually the default turned into a plea of not guilty.
Since then, a plea of “not guilty” has become a necessary form. In many jurisdictions, nothing can happen until you’ve pled not guilty. You can’t even take a guilty plea until you’ve first pled not guilty.
And we’ve all forgotten the reasons why the formality is required in the first place. It’s just “the way we do things around here.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
So, it’s required to make a plea, and silence, (due to the ‘silence is construed as consent’ maxim of law), results in the court filing a plea of “not guilty” for you, and it’s required to plea “not guilty” before pleading guilty.
Can’t we just plea “innocent” of all charges, and be done with the proceedings?
The reference, for those unfamiliar is from the Salem Witch Trials (or at least Arthur Miller’s depiction thereof in The Crucible) when Giles Corey chose not to enter a plea.
If he pled guilty, he’d be executed. If he pled not guilty, he’d be convicted anyway and executed. Either way, the state (or Puritan equivalent) would have seized his estate. By not pleading, he was tortured to death but his children kept his assets.
Actually, most of his property had already been seized. He refused to plead as a protest.
Is this clarified/explained later?
Slight change of topic, if I’m guilty, aren’t I technically lying if I plead not guilty? I know it’s a legal term, but…
*I* did it! Yeah, that’s right, the cow! And I feel great!
The comment thread of “I did it!” is so very Spartacus. I love it.