The Wayland court system uses a trial by jury, with judges presiding over all cases, and sentencing done in the form of an accuser's offer and a defendant's counter-offer, with the jury being able to choose whichever of the two sentences they believe to be more appropriate for the crime.
Citizens of Wayland have a right to trial by jury. Juries are selected at random. Each jury is composed of 15 citizens. Juries are paid the average wage for their services.
Defendants may choose to give up their right to a jury and be tried by a judge alone, if the accuser permits. Prosecutors must always permit this unless they are working on behalf of an accuser who will not allow it.
Defendants who are employed the state of Wayland and accused of a crime against a citizen of Wayland are required to have a trial by jury.
In matters of crimes with specific victims, the victim may initiate prosecution directly and may represent themselves in court, or hire a barrister to conduct the case on their behalf. They may appoint public prosecutors at no charge. In cases where the victim cannot represent him/herself in court, family members of the victim may act as accusers, and also have the authority to appoint a barrister to conduct the case on behalf of the victim.
A judge may deny a victim's family member the right to conduct a case on their behalf if the family member is suspected to have committed the crime in question, or if there is a suspicion that the family member was not on good terms with the victim.
Public prosecutors only participate in trials in which there is no accuser to conduct the case. This may be the case if a person without a family is murdered, if a crime is committed against an orphan who cannot represent him/herself in court, in cases of crimes against the state, or simple regulatory offenses without specific victims. Except in these cases, public prosecutors may only prosecute a case if they are asked to do so by an accuser, although they are under no obligation to do so.
If a family member cannot get a prosecutor to represent them at no charge, they may petition the Wayland prosecution office for a public prosecutor. The Wayland prosecution office will maintain a list of the prosecutors, and of who has most recently prosecuted a case at a family's request. Whichever prosecutor has handled such cases least recently will be obligatorily assigned to the case.
Judges are appointed directly by the ruler of Wayland. They manage court procedure and making rulings in appeals, but they do they not make determinations of guilt or innocence, nor do they decide sentences for crimes, except in cases where citizens have renounced their right to trial by jury.
With a unanimous vote, juries may declare a defendant guilty or innocent. If a unanimous vote is not feasible, then with a vote of 80% or greater, a jury may declare a defendant most likely guilty, or most likely innocent. These have the following outcomes:
- Guilty: Proceed to sentencing as normal.
- Most likely guilty: Proceed to sentencing at the jury's discretion (by majority vote), but all numerical maximum punishments are reduced by 90%, and both life imprisonment and the death penalty are prohibited.
- Most likely innocent: Skip sentencing.
- Innocent: At the jury's discretion (by majority vote), the accuser or prosecutor may be punished for wasting the court's time with frivolous claims.
In trials with a prosecutor, the jury may also choose not to impose a verdict, and instead declare a Farce by 2/3rds majority. Declaring a farce means that the jury believes the prosecutor has not put forth a good-faith effort to secure a conviction against the defendant, and the trial should be repeated with a barrister of Wayland selected at random to lead the prosecution. This may be done a maximum of five times, after which this option is no longer available.
If no other decision can be agreed upon, the jury may declare a Mistrial, meaning the court reaches no decision and another trial will be needed.
When the jury has selected a verdict, the judge will announce the maximum punishments for the crime. Then both the accuser (or prosecutor), and the defendant will be given time to write down punishment proposals in secret. It is customary but not required for the accuser (or prosecutor) to offer the defendant a multiple choice punishment, although at least one of the options must comply with the maximum sentences permissible for the crime. The two proposals are handed to the judge who reads them for the court. The jury may then decide by majority vote whether they prefer the accuser's offer, or the defendant's counteroffer, and may then impose the agreed-upon punishment.
As an example of multiple-choice punishment proposal, if a defendant has been found most likely guilty of income tax evasion, the prosecutor could offer the maximum sentence of 18 days community service, 9 days in jail, and a fine of 12% of the unreported income, or three weeks of classes in the principles of civics and social responsibility. Although the second option is not included in any sentencing guidelines for the crime of income tax evasion, it would still be permissible as offered because the defendant could choose an alternative sentence which complies with the maximum sentencing for the crime.