Imperial Criminal Courts
The Imperial Criminal Courts are what most people think of when the word “court” is mentioned, but they are only one type of court. Criminal courts try almost all violations of Imperial Law, the only exception being cases of Treason by peers; the criminal courts do try cases of Treason by non-peers. Details of the operation of the criminal courts vary slightly from domain to domain, but they are similar in overall operation.
Depending on the particular crime and the specifications of the relevant Imperial laws, Imperial Criminal Courts may impose fines, imprisonment, banishment (rarely imposed, but still on the books), or the death penalty. One of the few advantages of being a peer is that capital sentences can only be imposed on a peer by a noble of higher rank.
In important cases, or cases where capital punishment is an option, a separate tribunal is convened to determine the sentence after considering the nature of the crime and any mitigating factors, such as mental disease or defect. Imperial laws and the precedent of legal systems on many worlds over the millennia recognize that certain individuals are not always responsible for their actions, and custom forbids the application of the death penalty in such cases. The courts usually prescribe commitment to a mental institution instead.