Many villages and townships lack a proper knight to act as sheriff, leaving commoners to be deputized. Without proper enforcement, many laws are enforced only as the local agents feel they need to be. Even if they aren’t enforced by the local officials, laws can be enforced by any visiting knight or noble of sufficient rank. Those that think the law can be totally disregarded will quickly find themselves on the wrong side of a jail cell.
Laws are not applied evenly. A noble, knight, sheriff or commoner who breaks the law may suffer any range of consequence, depending on the judgement of the presiding official. A sheriff who arrests a corrupt knight by beating the knight into submission may have broken the law and be jailed, beaten, or disfigured; however, if the judge decides the sheriff was justified, the sheriff may have his crimes pardoned or even be rewarded for his actions.
Common sheriffs act as judge and jury and have the power to jail, whip, and beat a criminal. Knights and lords may deliver punishments up to permanent disfigurement. For capital crimes (rape, treason, oathbreaking, murder, theft of a noble’s property) a count or king is needed to oversee the trial; however, all too often that method of recourse is too difficult to obtain and local sheriffs and lords deal out death - illegally but who’s going to stop them?
As a right only afforded to knights and nobles, any time they are brought before a court they may request a trial by combat. Of course, not every noble can swing a sword, and so champions may be used in the place of the noble on trial and the justice. The right to trial by combat is not extended to commoners or members of the church, regardless of rank. Trial by combat need not be to the death, but until one member yields.
Rules for succession and inheritance
The first born inherits everything.
Bastards are not considered offspring.
Sex does not matter.
If the heir is dead, apply to the rule to their offspring.
If a line ends (there are no offspring for that person), go up one generation and apply the rule to the next living heir.
Rinse and repeat.
In the above example AA (in red) is the current head of the family. Strikeouts indicate a dead person. The line of succession is: AAAA > AAAB > AAB > ABA > ABBA > ABBA
During the time that the heir is being found and retrieved, the spouse of the deceased takes over as regent. Their position is temporary and abuses of power of this position are often met with severe punishments. If there is no spouse, the spouse that acts as regent follows the same line of succession.
In cases of disputed lines (e.g. there is question as to whether someone is natural born) the lord of the lands has final say.