Earth and other Federation planets were often depicted to be somewhat utopian in nature, however there are cases where domestic crimes have been depicted at various points throughout Star Trek.

Were there any standard laws and punishments for crimes across Federation controlled planets and space? Were they standardised or did they differ depending on the planet or region of space?

How were severe crimes punished vs minor ones?

  • 1
    I like to think that by the 24th century we would have a much better understanding of psychology, neurology and criminology that would render current notions of crime and punishment obsolete - in much the same way the federation apparently eliminated money.
    – Dai
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 0:02
  • It's a pretty simple system. Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 21:19
  • @Dai To "eliminate money" you really need to set up Hive Mind first. Only Hive Mind can coordinate exchanges and priorities and signal urgency or sunk capital investment magnitude without individual-to-individual money-based coordination. Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 21:49

3 Answers 3


According to Memory Alpha,

Compared to neighboring civilizations, the United Federation of Planets was unusually reluctant to codify or apply the death penalty, preferring incarceration and rehabilitation.

Some Federation worlds, per the respect of the UFP to local and independent customs, had laws of their own which put citizens to death. Such was the case on Ardana which, even though a member of the Federation, practiced not only the death penalty but torture as well.

In the 23rd century, Starfleet officers held responsible for violating General Order 7 (visiting the planet Talos IV) faced the death penalty. However, in the only known instance of the order's violation, Starfleet declined to prosecute the officers involved.

By the 24th century, the death penalty was non-existent in the Federation.

A list of punishments given by the Federation consists of:

  • Community Service
  • Fine
  • Exile
  • Imprisonment (in the Brig, an Internment Camp, a Penal/Labor Camp, or in an Asylum)
  • Thanks for the edit Izkata, getting over a head cold has left my brain a little jumbled
    – Monty129
    Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 17:27

From season 3, episode #79, Turnabout Intruder, we know that in 23rd century TOS, Starfleet has banned the death penalty except for "General Order 4". Concurrently, we see in other episoded, penal colonies in which the criminally insane were imprisoned for rehabilitation.

By the 24th Century, we know that penal colonies still exist (e.g. Tom Paris was in New Zealand penal colony.) However, the death penalty is not mentioned.


Some planets had the death penalty. Spock mentions the one that Harry Mudd escaped from as having several methods, including "death by phaser." I think member worlds were like sovereign countries within the United Nations; they might have agreed to certain interstellar laws, but they all had their own legal systems. Violent crime on Earth was apparently nonexistent or so rare that police forces were no longer needed.

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