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Counterfeit according to Roman law

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman coins
Roman coins

Due to the growing administration and advanced law, ancient Rome finally had to deal with the issue of document forgery, and it was one of the most serious felonies.

The Law of XII Tables contained only the provisions concerning the forgery of the testament – the witness who issued a false testimony was thrown from the Tarpeian Rock. The forgery (falsum) was regulated separately by the   Lex Cornelia Act and has since been prosecuted on public prosecution. The legal act established a special court to punish certain types of falsum, e.g. counterfeiting money, as well as damaging coins, scraping gold, altering or destroying a testament or signing a false testimony.

Initially, the penalty was an exile, during the empire period also with the loss of property and citizenship. Higher social classes, such as equites, officials, senators, were punished with work in the mines, the lower caste of citizens with the death penalty and crucifixion was provided for slaves. This law was in force even in the late Justinian period, supplemented by other types of offences, including prosecution of falsification of names, titles, ranks and offices has been added. The forgery had to be intentionally intent, and its prosecution had statue of limitations after 20 years.

Author: Sebastian Gruszka
  • Witold Wołodkiewicz, Prawo rzymskie, Słownik Encyklopedyczny, Warszawa 1986

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