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Flaws in Hammurabi’s Code

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1 Flaws in Hammurabi’s Code
Babylon’s famous law system called into question. By: Victoria Boone, Whitney Moore, and Griffin Derby

2 What is the Code of Hammurabi?
The Code of Hammurabi was one of the more well known legal codes of the ancient world. Hammurabi, king of ancient Babylon, implemented his famous code so that all citizens of the Babylonian Empire would know what was expected of them and their families. He also sought protection of the weak from the powerful and rich. By today’s logic, Hammurabi’s code would be abnormally cruel and unforgiving. For instance, a petty thief may face a death penalty over breaking and entering somebody else’s house. Perhaps it did maintain law and order, but at the cost of human lives.

3 Misinformation in the Judicial System Fact or Opinion?
While trials in ancient times as in modern times were in place to determine the guilt of a suspect, the system was much more primitive. Trials relied heavily on witness accounts that may not have been completely true. It was based too heavily in assumed fact rather than investigation. For instance, if a merchant was accused of knowingly selling stolen goods, whether he was innocent or not, may face harsh punishment if his witness could not present sufficient evidence that the merchant is innocent. Rather than conducting an investigation, the accusation would be based on testament and opinion rather than reason and investigation.

4 Unnecessarily Harsh Punishment
Criminals often faced punishment of death over petty robbery, breaking and entering, and in some cases, bearing false witness. It can be argued that these punishments were unfair due to the nature of the crime. Punishment was also inconsistent with crime; breaking and entering would be just as likely to be receive the death penalty as murder would be in many cases. These punishments seem rather grave for small offenses.

5 What effects would Hammurabi’s Code have on modern society?
If the Code of Hammurabi was still in use today, it would likely discourage citizens from committing crime due to the harsh punishments and sometimes unfair trials. Fear of the death penalty would likely be frightening to anybody from the petty thief to the serial killer. However, the lack of investigation would likely lead to the deaths of a number of innocent bystanders.

6 Counterargument And Refute
Hammurabi’s Code maintained social order very well. Perhaps it did, but the strict and harsh punishments were sometimes brought down on the very citizens they were supposed to protect due to poor judicial customs. The harsh punishments set by the Code ensured a criminal would most likely not commit another crime after first punishment. This was probably the case, however, the fear tactics may have made innocent people live in fear of accusation and penalty. The lack of investigation and evidence in the trials of those times may have also resulted in the death of innocent witnesses or bystanders due to false accusations.

7 Summary The Code of Hammurabi relied too much on witness account and assumption rather than fact, evidence, and investigation. This too often resulted in cruel, and unfair punishment. It almost seems that a suspect was assumed guilty until proven innocent, the inverse of modern day legal systems.

8 Sources

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