In its original sense, the phrase denoted the exemption which was accorded to clergymen from the jurisdiction of the secular courts, or from arrest or attachment on criminal process issuing from those courts in certain particular cases. Afterwards, it meant a privilege of exemption from the punishment of death accorded to such persons as were clerks, or who could read. This privilege of* exemption from capital punishment was anciently allowed to clergymen only, but afterwards to all who were connected with the church, even to its most subordinate officers, and at a still later time to all persons who could read, (then called “clerks,”) whether ecclesiastics or laymen. It does not appear to have been extended to cases of high treason, nor did it apply to mere misdemeanors. The privilege was claimed after the person’s conviction, by a species of motion in. arrest of judgment, technically called “praying his clergy.” As a means of testing his clerical character, he was given a psalm to read, (usually, or always, the fifty- first,) and, upon his reading it correctly, he was turned over to the ecclesiastical courts, to be tried by the bishop or a jury of twelve clerks. These heard him on oath, with his witnesses and compurgators, who attested their belief in his innocence. This privilege operated greatly to mitigate the extreme rigor of the criminal laws, but was found to involve such gross abuses that parliament began to enact that certain crimes should be felonies “without benefit of clergy,” and finally, by St. 7 Geo. IV. c. 28,
What is BENEFIT OF CLERGY?
Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary
Nothing implied or stated on this page should be construed to be legal, tax, or professional advice. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm and this page should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. For questions regarding your specific situation, please consult a qualified attorney.
- Restitution Law – What it is, How to Avoid it, and Tips on Asking for It
- Should I Freeze My Credit?
- Living Will – The Pros & Cons You Need to Know
- What does it mean to be acquitted?
- Forming an LLC in Missouri
- Double Jeopardy Law
- How To Take Someone To Small Claims Court
- What is Jury Nullification?
- Guide to Court Ordered Mediation
- Workplace Retaliation – What It Is And How To Handle It
- What Is A Police Welfare Check?
- Best Way to Find Someone in Jail for Free
- How to Transfer a Car Title When The Owner Is Deceased
- How To Find A Name & Address Using A License Plate Number
- Best Way to Write a Professional Letter to a Judge
- How To Find An Inmate’s Release Date
- What Can You Do At 18 Legally?
- Signing a Letter on Someone Else’s Behalf
- How Do You Look up License Plate Numbers?
- Best Way To Run A Free Arrest Warrant Check