This is a working page for what will eventually be a comprehensive "Law" article. Please feel free to provide comments on the Discussion page.

"Earth people glorified organized violence for forty centuries, but... imprison those who employ it privately."

- Spock, 2266 (TOS: "Dagger of the Mind")

"The law? Commander, laws change depending on who's making them... but justice is justice."

- Odo, 2369 (DS9: "A Man Alone")

What is "Law"?Edit

The fundamental nature of law itself is a philosophical question, with more answers than the number of species in the galaxy. Many different planetary societies have independently created sets of specified or commonly understood rules or guidelines which require, encourage, restrict, or allow behavior by sentient beings; broadly defined these can all be said to represent laws. They also frequently have associated with them the manner for interpreting and enforcing those laws, such as trials or challenges. What follows is an overview of those laws, how compliance with them is judged, and how transgressions are addressed.

Treaties are not within the scope of this article.

Major Alpha and Beta Quadrant bodies of lawEdit


Laws and regulationsEdit

To be determined

Legal forums and counselEdit

  • Some parts of Earth during the post-atomic horror in 2079 used court systems in which a single person would be the judge, prosecutor, and jury. They were deemed courts of "fact", rather than of legalities. The accused was deemed guilty unless innocence was proven, a presumption which resulted from the killing of lawyers. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")

Interesting featuresEdit

  • To be determined

United Federation of PlanetsEdit

Laws and regulationsEdit

However, one must keep in mind Kirk's statement: "Daystrom felt such an act was against the laws of God and man. A computer that carried his engrams also believed it." So the computer's statements regarding murder's punishment may be only Daystrom's individual moral beliefs rather than legal fact.
Despite there not being a specific law on the subject, any good prosecutor would likely be capable of using existing laws related to physical and mental assaults to prosecute such an action.

Legal forums and counselEdit

  • Hearings: Moderately formal initial inquiries into matters that could ultimately result in more formal proceedings. They could be held on Starfleet vessels, presided over by an officer (for example, a captain), and did not require the presence of counsel for the accused. The accused did not have to affirmatively waive counsel during the proceeding. (TOS: "Mudd's Women")

Interesting featuresEdit


Laws and regulationsEdit

It is possible that General Order 7 was renumbered to 4 between 2266 and 2268.
  • Striking a fellow officer was a court-martial offense. (TOS: "This Side of Paradise")
  • Mutiny, the unlawful relieving of a captain's command of his ship, was forbidden by regulation. (TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I", "This Side of Paradise")
  • If the senior officers of a starship were unfit for command, the highest ranking officer was to take command. (TOS: "The Deadly Years")
  • Starfleet regulations were designed to circumvent any order to transport an entire crew off the ship for other than maintenance purposes. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses")
  • In the event that a captain of a starship was incapacitated, the second in command was to retain command until the captain had recovered. (TOS: "Journey to Babel")
  • Failure to act to stop an ongoing breach of regulations makes the person who fails to act equally guilty of the breach. (TOS: "The Omega Glory")
  • The proper way, per Starfleet Command, regulation 7, paragraph 4, to arrest a fellow officer was to state that he or she "must now consider him/herself under arrest, unless in the presence of the most senior fellow officers presently available, he or she gives satisfactory answer to those charges which you now bring." (TOS: "The Omega Glory")
  • Ascertaining the status of a starship's captain when he or she was missing was a legal obligation. (TOS: "The Tholian Web")
  • A chief medical officer of a starship can require an exam of and relieve personnel from duty for medical reasons, including the commanding officer. (TOS: "The Tholian Web", "Turnabout Intruder"; TNG: "Lonely Among Us")
  • Forcible removal of individuals against their will is a violation of several Starfleet regulations, and may include the Prime Directive. (TNG: "Angel One")
  • Although the Acts of Cumberland were initially used as the basis for precedent in a ruling by Captain Phillipa Louvois denying Data the rights afforded sentient beings, after a hearing on the matter she ruled that Data was not the property of Starfleet.
Use of statutes passed in the 21st century, before the founding of the Federation, as precedence in this matter indicates that Starfleet considered its historical roots to be in the Earth Starfleet, and, by extension, in Earth organizations out of which the Earth Starfleet arose. Note that this ruling only related to Starfleet regulations, not to other Federation laws.
  • It was within the discretion of a captain to decide whether extradition of Starfleet personnel is warranted under the circumstances when requested by a non-Federation world. (TNG: "A Matter of Perspective")
  • There was no regulation against recreating Starfleet personnel in personal holoprograms. (TNG: "Hollow Pursuits")
  • Under Starfleet regulations, direct insubordination was a court martial offense. (TNG: "The Quality of Life")

Legal forums and counselEdit

Starbase 11 courtroom

A courtroom on Starbase 11

  • Hearings: Moderately formal initial inquiries into matters that could ultimately result in more formal proceedings. They were required to be held in some situations by Starfleet general orders in anticipation of a court martial. The accused, if Starfleet personnel, was granted a right of counsel, which could be waived. (TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I") Counsel could be assigned in the person of an officer rather than a lawyer as a hearing is not a trial, per se. (TNG: "The Drumhead")
  • During a hearing if the court asked an accused "why" he, she, or it did something, the accused could present any evidence in any format, and from unknown sources, to answer. That right may have been restricted by majority vote of the presiding trial board should the accused be viewed as abusing the right. (TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I")
  • Hearings may have been held by Starfleet personnel over civilians, however, unlike Starfleet personnel, during the hearing civilians were neither advised of a right to counsel, nor did they have to affirmatively waive rights to counsel. (TOS: "Mudd's Women", "Space Seed")
  • A starship captain presiding over a hearing with civilians where the charges are related to his or her ship's security had the authority to drop all charges. (TOS: "Space Seed").
  • A court martial trial board had to consist of three officers of command rank in the case of a proceeding on the grounds of mutiny. (TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I")
  • Private attorneys were permitted to represent defendants before Starfleet general courts martial. (TOS: "Court Martial")
  • Starfleet general courts martial are presided over by a president of the court and three members; the defendant has the opportunity to object to any of the members. (TOS: "Court Martial")
  • In Starfleet general courts martial the defendant did not necessarily have the right to review prosecution evidence prior to the formal proceedings. (TOS: "Court Martial")
  • In Starfleet proceedings in the 23rd century witnesses were scanned by a computer (sometimes using a special witness chair) during testimony; any deviation from factual truth would be noted and the computer would either supply the factual information or the witness would be given an opportunity to explain the apparent contradiction. The system was called the verifier. (TOS: "Mudd's Women", "Wolf in the Fold", "Court Martial") A type of verifier was used for identification purposes in the 24th century. (TNG: "The Measure Of A Man")

    A 23rd century Verifier

Use of a verifier for correction of factual mistakes by witnesses was not seen in TNG-era shows. It is possible such use was restricted or prohibited at that time.
  • In at least hearings on-board starships the ship's computer could provide testimony as to facts and expert conclusions, which had the same legal effect as if a person were to provide the testimony. (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold")
  • Extraordinary competency hearings, with at least two command officers empaneled as the board, were mandatory by regulation in the event a Starfleet captain was physically or mentally unfit for command. (TOS: "The Deadly Years")
  • A court martial was standard practice when a ship was lost. (TNG: "The Measure Of A Man")
  • An officer could challenge an initial ruling from a member of the Judge Advocate General's office and require a hearing on the matter. (TNG: "The Measure Of A Man")
  • When a lawyer of the Judge Advocate General's office was available, other legal staff was not, and a hearing on a matter was urgently required regulations provided that the lawyer could act as judge and require that serving officers who were then available act as counsel – both prosecution and defense – during a hearing. The most senior officer would provide defense counsel, the next senior as prosecution. In the event that such selected officers were unable or unwilling to so serve, the lawyer could delay the hearing or – in his or her discretion – rule summarily without benefit of the hearing. (TNG: "The Measure Of A Man")
Because Riker performed his function as prosecutor despite objections, one can assume that a summary ruling in such a situation (where an urgent hearing could have been held but was not due to lack of cooperation) was not easily appealable, else Picard would have simply delayed implementation of the ruling through appeals.
  • In hearings it was a legitimate to claim a potential for self-incrimination as the reason for not providing the answer to a question. (TNG: "The Drumhead")
  • Chapter Four, Article Twelve of the Federation Uniform Code of Justice granted an officer the right to make a statement before questioning begins in a hearing. (TNG: "The Drumhead")
  • An informal court of inquiry could be held to determine the cause of an accident during training at Starfleet Academy. Even more informal than a regular hearing, there was neither legal representation nor affirmative waivers of a right to counsel by witnesses. (TNG: "The First Duty")
  • Non-Starfleet persons, including non-Federation citizens, could lodge formal complaints with the JAG that arose from actions taken by Starfleet personnel. (TNG: "Gambit, Part II")
  • An officer, after having been declared a "renegade", could not give valid orders. (TNG: "Gambit, Part II")

Interesting featuresEdit

Bennett (Rear Admiral)

Rear Admiral Bennett, JAG, 2373

  • Starfleet attorneys were part of the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) office. (TOS: "Court Martial"; TNG: "The Measure Of A Man")
  • In the 23rd century attorney Samuel T. Cogley considered the following to contain some of the most important statements of legal rights: the Bible, the Codes of Hammurabi and of Justinian, the Magna Carta, the Constitution of the United States, the fundamental declarations of the Martian colonies, and the statutes of Alpha 3. Conspicuous by its absence was any specific notation of Federation legal doctrine. (TOS: "Court Martial")
  • A psycho-tricorder could be used to retrieve memories in Humans at least 24 hours into the past, and the retrieved memories had some evidentiary value in proceedings. (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold") This was similar to the process called an "encephalographic polygraph scan". (TNG: "The Drumhead")
  • Captain Kirk stated in 2267 that on the Enterprise they could make a recording of the registrations of a Human's conscious and subconscious mind. That recording would then tell what happened to the person in the recent past. "There would be no doubt." (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold")
This claim may have been an exaggeration of Federation capabilities in an attempt to move the venue of the hearing into Scotty's involvement in several murders to the ship; such a capability with such a degree of certainty was never again seen or discussed in any of the series.

Klingon EmpireEdit

Laws and regulationsEdit

Legal forums and counselEdit

  • The Klingon High Council acted as adjudicator in cases of treason against the Empire. Judgments of the Council in such matters was conclusive unless successfully "Challenged".
  • Accusations of treason could be made and substantiated by individual Council members, and not just by Empire prosecutors.
  • The family of a Klingon warrior was responsible for his actions and he was responsible for theirs, including as to punishments and executions. This was summarized by Picard in [DATE] as "a son will share in the honors or crimes of his father."
  • The Klingon High Council heard all Challenges to its pronounced judgments in the council chamber. The person (or family relative if the person was not available) commenced the proceeding by issuing the Challenge to the Council, and by extension those who made accusations of treason. By making a Challenge the individual, if a representative, assumed the "sins" of the accused. The presumption was that the Council's prior judgment was correct, and the Challenger was in a technical form of disgrace until innocence was proven. The mek'ba was the portion of the proceedings when evidence and testimony was presented in open council regarding the substance of the judgment.
  • During a Challenge the one making the Challenge had a cha'DIch to assist in the proceedings. The cha'DIch was required to follow the wishes of the Challenged while in the council chamber.
  • Making a Challenge was completely voluntary; no legal requirement existd to challenge a judgment of the Council.
  • Accepting discommendation was tantamount to accepting the judgment of the council as regards a family member, but did not need to carry with it a sentence of death.
  • Following the death of the head of the Klingon High Council there was by tradition a Rite of Succession, a fight for the position by the two strongest Council members. The selection of the strongest was determined by a mediator/arbitor. The mediator could be selected in advance of death by the head of the Council. The mediator had significant power in deciding how the Rite of Succession was held. The mediator also determined the legitimacy of any challenges to the outcome of the Rite of Succession.
  • The Sonchi ceremony was a legal confirmation of a person's death by applying painstiks to the body and seeing whether there is any reaction.
  • In the Rite of Succession practiced in the 24th century, only a brief proclamation that two challengers had been chosen was necessary. An older form dictated that the challengers perform the ja'chuq, a long, involved ceremony in which the challengers listed their accomplishments to prove their worthiness to lead the Council. This was because there was no basis for accepting a petition for leadership from someone who had fought no battles, shed no blood for his people, and earned no honor for himself. (TNG: "Sins of the Father", "Reunion", "Redemption")

Romulan Star EmpireEdit

Laws and regulationsEdit

Legal forums and counselEdit

  • A starship commander was the sole arbitor as to guilt or innocence of espionage. The sentence could be carried out immediately after charges were recorded. Prior to execution the convict could demand, and was required to be granted, the Romulan Right of Statement, which was an opportunity to speak for one last time for as long as he or she wished about any subject matter.
  • A legal intercessor was an occupation on the planet Romulus, possibly the equivalent of a lawyer in the Romulan legal system. (TNG: "Unification I")

Interesting featuresEdit

To be determined


Laws and regulationsEdit

Interesting featuresEdit

  • Benjamin Sisko considered "plea bargaining" – the offer of valuable information, services, or goods by an accused in exchange for leniency from criminal prosecution – to be a Ferengi legal tradition. (DS9: "Emissary")
Any discussion of Ferengi law has to take into account that Ferengi frequently exaggerate facts and stretch legalities beyond the breaking point in order to gain a competitive advantage or attempt to threaten. Statements as to the state of, or punishments related to, violations of Ferengi law should be evaluated within this context.


Cardassian Court TV

A Cardassian trial is broadcast

Laws and regulationsEdit

To be determined

Legal forums and counselEdit

To be determined


Laws and regulationsEdit

  • According to law and custom a woman could require through the kal-if-fee that her intended husband and a chosen challenger fight to the death in lieu of the marriage taking place. She thereafter became the property of, and presumably wife of, the victor. (TOS: "Amok Time")
  • Vulcans did not consider the kal-if-fee challenge to be binding as law upon non-Vulcans, and participation by non-Vulcans was optional. (TOS: "Amok Time")

Legal forums and counselEdit

To be determined


Els Renora

Bajoran Arbiter Els Renora

  • Bajor had a Ministers' Court, consisting of at least four members and with the power to hold hearings and grant or withhold amnesty for terrorist activities during the Cardassian occupation. (DS9: "Past Prologue")
  • Extradition hearings for persons charged by off-world governments with crimes could be held at any convenient location on Bajor territory. They were officiated by an arbiter. Licensed legal counsel were not required to be used by the defendant, and any rights to have such counsel was not required to be affirmatively waived during the hearing. Because the proceeding was a hearing and not a trial, the person for whom extradition was sought could be compelled to testify. (DS9: "Dax")

Other bodies of lawEdit


  • 892-IV had legalized slavery. One penalty for being caught as a runaway slave was to appear on a televised gladiatorial show where the slave was – most likely – killed in combat.
  • The office of Proconsul could order, without hearings or process, the imprisonment and/or immediate execution of people for any reason seen fit, including simply being other than a Roman citizen.

(TOS: "Bread and Circuses")

Acamar IIIEdit


Angel IEdit

  • Speaking out against the accepted social order was a crime that could be punished by death. (TNG: "Angel One")

Argelius IIEdit

  • The penalty for murder on Argelius II was ancient and unchanged: death by slow torture.
  • The chief city administrator was in charge of local civil disturbances and investigates crimes. Prior to the "Great Awakening" in the 21st century, Argelius used a mental technique called the Argelian empathic contact to help question a witness and determine the truth of statements in criminal situations.
  • Administrative personnel, and thus the legal investigators of crimes, were generally hired from off-world as Argelians were typically peaceful people since the Great Awakening. (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold")


  • Regulations in the Benzar space services were such that problems, including potentially dangerous ones, were reported to senior officers only after there was a full analysis and a resolution available. (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor")

Beta IIIEdit

  • From circa 4000 BC until 2267, the highest (and potentially only) law on Beta III was adherence to the commands of the sophisticated computer program known as Landru. Disobedience in any regard was punishable by either immediate death or "absorbtion" to become "of the body", the latter placing the mind of the individual under the total control of Landru.
  • During the time of Landru all laws were enforced immediately by Lawgivers, who were in contact with Landru at all times.
  • From time to time – and for unknown reasons – Landru required that the population of Beta III participate in a legal "festival", wherein behavior otherwise unacceptable (for example, violence to persons and property) was a required activity. (TOS: "The Return of the Archons")


  • The Bringloidi used laws (in combination with drugs) to suppress Human sexual drives until social forces were deemed sufficient to prevent procreation through natural means. (TNG: "Up The Long Ladder")

Capella IVEdit

  • A child who would become a Teer was required to die if another claimed to be the new Teer instead. If unborn, the mother was to be killed as well.
  • Any man touching the wife of a Teer would be killed if the wife so requested.
  • Children belonged to the father for all intents and purposes. (TOS: "Friday's Child")


It is possible that Bele's chase of Lokai was, in part, performed at sublight speeds in stasis, thus accounting for the extreme amount of time spent looking for him.

Deneb VEdit

  • Fraud (for example, selling rights to an owned technology without the owner's permission) was punishable by death. The guilty party could select among execution methods, including electrocution, gas, phaser, hanging, and possibly others. (TOS: "I, Mudd")

Eminiar VII and Eminiar III (Vendikar)Edit

Gamma Trianguli VIEdit

  • For approximately 10,000 years, until 2267, it was illegal for men and women of the population to engage in any sort of sexual activity, including even kissing. All commands of the self-aware machine Vaal had to be obeyed until its destruction in 2267. (TOS: "The Apple")



The KobliadEdit

Ligon IIEdit

  • Women on Ligon II were the only portion of the population who were legally allowed to own land, but by becoming a man's "first one" her control over that wealth passed to the man for all practical purposes.
  • A man could demote a woman from "first one" to "second one" (or potentially lower) at his whim, a process called "supercedence". A legal, if rarely exercised, response was for the woman to challenge the new first one to a fight to the death for the right to remain first one.
This is similar to the right of kal-if-fee.
  • Death dissolved mating agreements (e.g., being first one). (TNG: "Code of Honor")


  • For a very short period of time in 2267, regulations and crimes against the state were posted by occupying Klingons and adhered to by the Organians. Punishments could result in death. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")


  • Crimes were taken very seriously on Rakhar, but trials were not used to determine guilt.
  • The punishment for being an "enemy of the people" was the death of one's entire family. (DS9: "Vortex")
These unflattering pronouncements came from Croden, who was an outspoken critic of the Rakhari government; he might have been exaggerating the state of the law or even lying.

Rubicun IIIEdit

  • According to Natasha Yar in 2364, a survey of the laws of the Edo of [[Rubicun III] showed they were "fairly simple, common sense things". She failed to inquire about enforcement and punishment, however. "Mediators" policed the planet, but only in one randomly selected and unannounced place per day called a "punishment zone". Death was the sole punishment for even the most minor of transgressions in the zone.
  • Their society was peaceful and extremely law-abiding, criminality having been wiped out thousands of years prior and virtually unknown by 2364. Edo thought of themselves as "a people of law."
  • Mediators dispensed punishment quickly and without formalities of trials if there was a visible transgression, ample witnesses, and an admission of guilt. Death by legal injection was the preferred punishment.
  • Execution could, under extraordinary circumstances, be delayed until sundown of the day of the transgression.
  • Ignorance of the law was not a valid defense.
  • The Edo did not tend to view the law as anything other than black and white; enforcement was paramount, regardless of the surrounding circumstances. (TNG: "Justice")



The QEdit

  • Q could be punished for "spreading too much chaos" through the universe by having their powers stripped away and being forced to exist as mortal creatures.
  • Q could commute sentences and/or modify punishments without benefit of a formal hearing or court. (TNG: "Deja Q")

Talarian homeworldEdit

Tanuga IVEdit

  • Guilt was presumed in the Tanugan legal system; innocence had to be proven.
  • The concept of depositions and the importance of witness testimony was recognized.
  • The Tanugan legal system was flexible enough to permit investigations, depositions, testimony, and holographic recreations of events surrounding a crime to be held and obtained on alien ships when extradition of aliens was an issue. (TNG: "A Matter of Perspective")


  • The question of whether a joined Trill was responsible for the acts of its antecedent selves (prior joinings of the same symbiont with a different host) was unclear under Trill and Federation law. (DS9: "Dax")
Had a clear precedent either way been available it would have been used at the extradition hearing. It is extraordinarily surprising, though, that such a fundamental question had not been addressed even in Trill legal precedence.

Ullian homeworldEdit

Ventax IIEdit

  • The law of Ventax II permitted the conveyance by contract of the personal servitude and property of later generations not a party to the original contract.
  • As of 2367, the only known case involving an alien claimant under a contract was Akul K'Ton v. Garv Etes (Township of Tau Velor, 931 AA), in which the parties voluntarily decided that arbitration rather than the Ventaxian court system was the appropriate forum due to the off-world nature of the claimant. Both sides had to agree on the arbitor.
  • Arbitrations were held such that the advocate asking questions was surrounded by the potential witnesses, with the arbitor and opposing advocate (who could also provide testimony) in neutral positions relative to the proceedings. The process of objections to questions and rulings as to admissibility of testimony was similar to that found in Starfleet courts martial. Contempt of court rulings could be used by the arbitor to compel advocates to behave appropriately. (TNG: "Devil's Due")
As there were no spectators to this incredibly important proceeding, arbitration may have been closed to the public under Ventaxian law.


  • All inhabitants of Yonada were required to agree to the insertion of "the instrument of obedience", a device which could remotely kill a person for illegal acts.
  • The laws of Yonada dealt in large part with prohibitions on the commitment of sacrilege, offense against the people, and offense against the "creators".
  • Climbing the mountains inside the hollow world of Yonada was punishable by death since it may have revealed the true nature of the world inside a hollowed asteroid.
  • Unauthorized entry into the oracle room carried an automatic punishment of death. However, the punishment could be commuted by the high priestess. (TOS: "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky")


  • Persons from Zalkon exhibiting isoelectrical bursts, thereby indicating a transfiguration from a corporeal being to a non-corporeal being, were declared criminals by the authorities and executed. (TNG: "Transfigurations")

Alternate/future timelinesEdit

  • Example

Morality and ethicsEdit

Medial ethicsEdit


  • Laws change over time, and we only have snapshots in time to work with; the timeframe of the citation should be noted as the applicable period during which the law or regulation was in effect unless clearly noted otherwise. Laws and regulations which are fictional from an in-universe standpoint (e.g., Starfleet Regulation 6.57, made up by Picard in TNG: "When The Bough Breaks") are not noted.
  • Most civilizations shown have criminal laws against murder, treason, kidnapping, terrorism, trespass, fraud, theft, trafficking in restricted items, and related matters. Also, in many cases, there are laws permitting the ownership and sale of real and personal property, marriage, and other general civil matters. Similarly most have forums for deciding legal cases (both criminal and civil) through the presentation of evidence, depositions, and witness testimony. For brevity these - and other broadly similar laws and procedures - are generally not specified unless there is something unique about them or their associated punishment.
  • Many of the punishments described across many worlds was simply death – death for murder, death for treason, death for stepping on the wrong grass. This is probably due to the fact that the prospect of death is a more dramatic means of advancing a story and showing danger than mere incarceration.
  • Although obviously done to save money and promote character development among the show's stars, there was a tendency to have any available Starfleet officer provide legal representation during critical, life-altering hearings (see TNG: "The Measure Of A Man" and DS9: "Dax"). While attempts at rationale for this were sometimes given, it does promote the concept that the legal profession was little more than the ability to argue cleverly and that there was little value in obtaining experienced - rather than inexperienced - counsel.
  • Some of the means shown of determining the value of witness testimony, including real-time computer verification and sophisticated lie detectors in use in the courtroom, would most likely be inadmissible in US courts today. Some, particularly in TOS, would also probably be violations of the US Constitutional protections against self-incrimination as shown in practice.
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