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Back to Table of Contents, A Declaration of Universal Rights

Article 2 — Self-Government

Section 3: Criminal Prosecutions; Forfeiture

The right to life, liberty and property shall be secured.

In criminal prosecutions, no man shall be subject to forfeiture except by due process of law.

Due process of law in criminal proceedings acknowledges the accused's right to reasonable bail; the right to demand the cause and nature of the accusation; the right to confront accusers and wit­nesses and to call for favorable evidence; the right to a speedy and public trial without abridging other rights; the right to trial by an impartial tribunal or jury of peers, without whose unanimous consent no guilt can be found. The accused is also presumed innocent until found guilty.

No man shall be compelled in any criminal proceeding to give evidence against himself, nor be twice put in jeopardy of life, liberty or property for the same offense.

Neither liberty or property shall be forfeited except by incarceration, fine, or both, and neither shall be excessive, cruel or unusual.

This section articulates the nature of lawful forfeiture of life, liberty and property as it relates to criminal actions which by definition are prosecuted by the state. Protections such as a speedy and public trial by jury, excessive fines, double jeopardy and those relating to witnesses are essential. Whether the law of God requires all of these is not clear as of this writing, but see Numbers 35:24.

That God's law may not require these protections explicitly does not detract from the proposition that His laws expressly require men to exercise wisdom, learning from history the lessons He has provided therein for our benefit. If wisdom were to speak, history would affirm the centrality of these procedural safeguards as essential to the maintenance of man's God-given rights. In the Euro-American tradition, this affirmation pre­dates Magna Charta (1215).

This section also sanctions capital punishment. Forfeiture of one's life is permitted in cases of murder, tried with procedural safeguards. That no man shall be deprived of life for murder except by two or three wit­nesses cannot be Biblically denied (Numbers 35:30).

Forfeiture differs from seizure as noted in the Preamble. Seizure is also discussed in Article 2, Section 5.

Fines or incarceration only come into play in non-capital cases and follow the rule that they may not be ex­cessive. The preamble addresses the issue of compulsory labor and its relationship to excessive punishment and incarceration. The prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment is retained to prevent the image of God in man from debasement in the punishment process as per Deuteronomy 25:1-4.

That no person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury is not of this class, though the wisdom of a Grand Jury has been borne out in practice historically, the creation of the Grand Jury system is completely at the liberty of those who seek an additional check on the power of the state in charging its citizens with criminal wrongdoing of a serious magnitude.

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