Notify Message
Page 1
#4138619 Mar 27, 2011 at 04:35 PM
684 Posts
Superheroics and the law

Registration laws aren’t the only laws created because of, or influenced by, the existence of superhumans. Since 1938, United States law has adapted
to reflect the realities of a world with superheroes and villains; many other countries with a significant superhuman presence have passed similar laws.

Most of the material that follows references the Untied States specifically. Unless otherwise stated the laws and procedures are essentially the same for the rest of the world for one of two reasons;

Simplicity. For Rp purposes it's easier to use these guidelines as the default. In fact, if a world nation deviates from this 'norm' it's probably worse. Little material in the Champion PnP cannon changes from this [I will update this as I find differences]. Also in some key cases; android rights for instance, if there were compelling differences, say full recognition in this case, heroes dealing with that issue would move there. This would be inconvenience story wise.

Pseudo Precedent- For various reasons the US has the most exposure to metahumans, both in terms of time, variety and sheer population. As a result, the US reaction for good or ill is seen as the standard. The rest of the world essential lets the US be the test case for just about everything metahuman related.
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
#4138621 Mar 27, 2011 at 04:35 PM
684 Posts
Constitutional Law

The most important constitutional law issue for most superhumans is the Eighth Amendment’s guarantee against “cruel and unusual” punishment.
What constitutes “cruel and unusual” in a situation where a superhuman’s powers make it impossible for the state to hold him using ordinary means of incarceration? The Supreme Court ruled, in James “Smasher” Aronson v. United States, 390 U.S. 1420 (1968), that “certain methods of incarceration which would be unconstitutional if used on normal human criminals will be constitutional if used to restrain superhuman criminals.

The methods which may be used on a particular superhuman criminal must be as narrowly tailored as possible to restrain that individual, so that his rights will not be infringed.” For example, the Court held in Grond v. Atkins, that “hot sleep” was a constitutional form of restraint if it’s reasonably likely there’s no other way to keep the prisoner incarcerated for the duration of his sentence.

On the other hand, various state court rulings have held that “trained superhuman” criminals, like Utility and Green Dragon, have to be
treated more or less like normal maximum-security prisoners unless there’s “clear and convincing” evidence such methods are insufficient to hold them.

Several superhuman criminals have claimed, under the Constitution’s general right of privacy, a “right to maintain a secret identity.” The Supreme Court specifically ruled that no such right exists in
Jessica “Blackmane” Howard v. New Jersey.

A number of Supreme Court rulings have stated that the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of due process and equal protection do not apply to extradimensional entities, artificial intelligences, and the undead, because they are not “persons” under the law.

On the other hand, they do apply to mutants, mutates, clones, and genetic constructs based on humans. Congress has occasionally passed laws granting at least limited rights to all “independent, free-willed, sentient entities” in American territory but these are always applied on a case by case basis.
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
#4138622 Mar 27, 2011 at 04:36 PM
684 Posts
Criminal Law

Most crimes committed by superhumans are covered by ordinary criminal laws — robbery and murder are still robbery and murder, no matter who commits them or how. But many jurisdictions have passed various criminal laws specifically targeting types or uses of superpowers and the courts have, generally, upheld these laws as non-discriminatory.

For example, in most states, the use of a superpower against another person automatically constitutes the crime of aggravated assault, regardless of whether the power itself cannot cause physical injury or lasting harm. These laws, roughly speaking, equate superpowers with weapons for legal purposes. Also the use or threatened use of superpowers often constitutes reckless endangerment under various state laws. A superhero who uses his powers to capture and restrain a criminal may find himself exposed to charges of excessive force.

The test for whether force is excessive is one of objective reasonableness: a particular degree of force is allowable if it would be used by a reasonable
police officer on the scene in light of the need for split-second decision making in a potentially lethal situation. This is a lenient test which disregards the officer’s or superhero’s underlying intent or motivation.

All states have laws to prevent people concealing their identity in public. Officials almost always ignore or overlook these laws for superheroes, but can bring them to bear if needed, and often add them to the counts against a captured supervillain.

Some jurisdictions, primarily cities, have enacted laws or ordinances outlawing specific superpowers — either in general, or in specific circumstances. Examples include Mental Powers in general, Flame powers in the vicinity of Gas Stations and so on.

In almost all cases local, state and federal governments are reluctant to use laws in a way that would discourge or threaten suerheroes from acting against crime or villains. Where the same laws are applied vigorously to supervillains.
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
#4138630 Mar 27, 2011 at 04:37 PM
684 Posts
Criminal Procedure
The Exclusionary Rule

Evidence obtained in violation of a suspect’s Fourth or Fift h Amendment rights, and other evidence derived from it, cannot be used against him in
court, pursuant to the exclusionary rule. This might lead to a supervillain getting a case dismissed on a technicality. However, there are some exceptions to the rule, including the good faith of the officer/hero, and having an independent, untainted, source for the evidence.


The United States has allowed superheroes to testify in court while concealing their identities since the 1961 case of Maxwell v. Michigan, 367 U.S. 992 (1961). The hero must either be sanctioned, or in some other fashion satisfy the court as to his identity — courts won’t allow just anyone to show up in a mask and offer testimony. On the other hand, supervillains can, if they wish, invoke this rule to testify while concealing their identities.

Telepathy and Evidence

Courts have, with some serious reluctance, allowed superhumans to introduce evidence gained through telepathy. However, the hero must be sanctioned and acting pursuant to a search warrant, and must establish through certified testing procedures that he or she genuinely has telepathic powers.
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
#4138633 Mar 27, 2011 at 04:37 PM
684 Posts
Mentalists And The Law

The existence and use of Mental Powers raises a large number of legal questions. What follows are some material from another mentalist specific book in the Champions Universe.

Use Of Mental Powers

The use of Mental Powers on an unwilling subject, regardless of whether the power in question could actually injure the victim, is considered aggravated assault in most states. Aggravated assault is a felony and usually carries a penalty of two to five years in prison.

Using telepathy to read an unwilling mind is considered a violation of the target’s right to privacy, and can be punished criminally or through a civil
suit. It may or may not affect the admissibility in court of the information gained; see below.

Using and form of mental control on an unwilling victim violates the victim’s Thirteenth Amendment right to be free from involuntary servitude and slavery. However, most states and the federal government provide
a law enforcement exception for the use of Mind Control to capture felons. This exception is limited to capturing the criminal; using Mind Control to interrogate a subject and force a confession out of him violates his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

Evidence Gained By Telepathy

Another mentalism issue in this area is whether evidence gained by using telepathy on an unwilling suspect is admissible in court.

The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on this issue. The states themselves are split. A slim majority of states rules that telepathic evidence is usually inadmissible in court, on one of several theories.

-First, it infringes the right to privacy to read someone’s mind, and to allow such evidence would encourage the violation of that right, and of any applicable invasion of privacy laws.

-Second, some states hold that the use of evidence acquired through Telepathy infringes the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

Some scholars argue that since the Fifth Amendment does not prevent the police from taking fingerprints, blood samples, and similar evidence from a suspect, it should not prevent the use of Telepathy either; critics of this position respond that thoughts are different from physical evidence, and thus are subject to different standards.

-Third, many states consider the use of Telepathy on an unwilling person to be an illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment and similar state laws. These states consider the use of Telepathy to obtain evidence to be illegal under all conditions, because Telepathy would be subject to too much abuse if the states attempted to create any exceptions.

-Fourth, some states maintain that many forms of telepathic evidence constitutes inadmissible hearsay. Broadly put, a hearsay statement is a statement made outside the trial by someone other than the testifying witness which is offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. An example of a hearsay statement would be if Carl testified, “Stan said that the light was green.” Since Stan is not testifying, and the statement is being used to prove the truth of the matter asserted (that the light was green), the statement is hearsay and may not be admitted into evidence.

Although there are numerous exceptions to the “hearsay rule,” no jurisdiction which forbids the use of telepathic evidence as hearsay has allowed any of the exceptions to be used to avoid the “no Telepathy” rule.

In those states where telepathic evidence can be admissible, there are very strict procedures to be followed to make it so.

-First, only telepathic evidence from sanctioned heroes can be admissible. The hero must get a warrant to read a suspect’s mind, similar to getting a warrant for a wiretap, and other rules regarding searches and seizures must be observed, including announcing the search, unless “destruction” of the evidence (because of strong mental defenses) is feared.

-Second, if possible, the “search” will be conducted in controlled conditions (such as at the police station), and the telepath will be hooked up to a mentaphone, a machine which transcribes the thoughts the telepath is reading. The mentaphone prevents the telepath from abusing the limited right of “mental entry” that the warrant gives him.

When the telepath gets to court, he will be subject to tests, run by the criminal defense attorney, to prove that he is a genuine telepath. Often, these tests involve reading the mind of the most neutral person in the courtroom—the judge. The testing is done out of the presence of the jury to avoid possible prejudice to the defendant.
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
Page 1