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< Skyrim: Hints

Crime refers to the many illegal activities available to the criminally-minded in Skyrim. If you are caught doing an illegal action by a witness you will incur a bounty and they will report your crime to local guards who will attempt to arrest you. When confronted by a guard you will have several different options to resolve the matter, some of which are unlocked through joining certain factions, attaining thaneship, unlocking certain perks or simply having a sufficient Speech skill. Resisting an arrest will always turn the guards and NPCs with high responsibility in the area hostile towards you.

Bounties are tracked separately for each of Skyrim's nine holds and you will only incur a bounty in the hold in which you commit a crime. However, if your bounty is high enough, a bounty collector can randomly approach you regardless of where you are and demand you pay the amount, with refusal to pay leading to an instantly aggressive fight. The Companions, the Tribal Orc strongholds, and Raven RockDB each track bounties independently of those in Skyrim, and the options presented during an arrest are more limited. The guards in Orc strongholds only permit you to either pay a fine or resist arrest as they lack jails, while Redoran Guards offer the same options but do have a jail and can also be bribed and persuaded to let you go.


Red text for an action indicates that performing it is considered to be a crime. For example, an item's name that appears in red text means that the item is owned and picking it up is stealing. If you or a follower who is commanded to perform an illegal action are witnessed committing a crime you will receive a bounty. Successfully sneaking while committing a crime will prevent you from being detected.

Regardless of whether a crime is witnessed, the Statistics tab on the menu keeps track of all your criminal activities. Each illegal activity will incur a specific penalty in gold that is added to your bounty. Animals can also be witnesses to crimes, so you must kill them in order to exonerate yourself.

Crime Description Bounty
Stealing items Taking an owned item is considered a crime, but reading an owned book or note is not. Placing a stolen item into a container can also be treated as stealing. A stolen item will be permanently marked in the inventory with red text. Viewing items in an owned container, taking your own items out of an owned container, and taking items from a dead NPC are not considered stealing. Half of the stolen item's value, rounded down.
Lockpicking Being caught attempting to pick the lock of an owned door or container results in a bounty, even if nothing was taken. Whether or not the lockpicking attempt was successful is irrelevant. 5
Trespassing When trespassing you will receive one warning and be told to leave the area. If you linger and continue to trespass, you will receive a bounty after 30 seconds. At this point, NPCs will call for the guards or attack you. Certain areas in the game will immediately incur a bounty if you are caught trespassing. 5
Disturbing the Jarl's peace This can occur when dropping a weapon on the ground, or when loitering in the vicinity of a dead body in a city (regardless of who killed the person). You will be confronted by a guard, and some of the possible responses can provoke them into fining you or attempting to arrest you. 10
Pickpocketing Activating an NPC while sneaking will allow you to view their inventory, and take any unequipped items. The chance of being detected is determined by the total weight of the items stolen and your Sneak level. Gold, although weightless, also has a relatively high chance of being detected. 25
Assault Initiating combat or using a hostile spell effect on an NPC will incur a bounty. Attacks by followers, summoned, commanded, or reanimated allies also count as assault. Witnesses to assault will cry out to alert other NPCs, and call for guards. A brawl is not considered assault unless weapons or spells are used, since your attacks are justified by asking your opponent to spar. Also be careful not to use certain apparel, such as the Ebony Mail (which can poison targets) during a brawl.

Self-defense against an unprovoked assault is legal and not considered a crime. In fact, nearby guards will even rush to your defense in such situations. For example, Dark Brotherhood targets can be legally killed if they are first provoked to attack through dialogue. Striking an allied NPC, or their owned creatures and summons, will result in multiple verbal warnings. Hitting them more than three times will result in them becoming hostile. If your assault kills the NPC in one hit you will only be charged with murder.

Eating a corpse using the Ring of Namira and feeding on someone as a vampire are both considered forms of assault.

Stealing horses Riding a horse owned by another person is considered a crime. As mentioned above, animals can be witnesses to crimes, and horses are no exception either, despite being unable to physically talk to guards and report your offenses. 50 gold each time the horse is mounted.
Jailbreak Simply activating an escape route or unlocking the door to a jail cell is considered a crime, even if the door is already closed. 100
Forgery Forging a numbers ledger found at various businesses around Skyrim is a crime. Forging the prison registry in Dragonsreach during Imitation Amnesty incurs a much higher bounty than usual if you are caught. 100 (Ledger)
250 (Registry)
Shapeshifting Transforming into a werewolf or a Vampire Lord or reverting back to your natural form is considered one of the most serious of crimes. The bounty is only incurred for the first witnessed transformation and not for any subsequent ones. Being in either of these forms is not a crime in itself but will cause most NPCs to turn hostile. 1000
Murder Killing a non-hostile NPC or domestic animal is considered one of the most serious of crimes. Guards will attempt to arrest you on sight. Causing environmental deaths, such as drowning or falling to death, will not count as murder. 1000

Stealthily Committing CrimesEdit

Remaining undetected while committing a crime will allow you to escape punishment. If you are detected, you can still wipe out a bounty if you kill all the witnesses to the crime before they are able to report you. In that case, a message will appear telling you your bounty has been removed. Most living creatures can witness crimes, including horses, farm animals, and hostile bandits.

When stealing something from inside a home, knowing the residents' schedules can be valuable. Most NPCs leave the home during the day for work from 8am to 8pm, perhaps visit a local tavern, and then go to sleep around midnight. Elders and children often wander around during the day, but from 8pm to midnight they sit at home and do nothing. However, certain characters may be active outside of the 8am to 8pm timeslot. Vampire attacks can also throw a wrench into your plans.

Generally speaking, the best time for burglary is from midnight to 7-8am when everyone is asleep. Another good time is the middle of the day, when most people are either working or wandering around, but be wary of elders or children who may stay at home.

Most NPC pages contain detailed information on their schedules, which can be helpful in planning a burglary or theft.

If you ask a follower to commit a witnessed crime, you will be held responsible and will receive a bounty. Killing guards without receiving a bounty is possible if it is an undetected one-hit kill or with poison, or if you kill all witnesses. Killing all witnesses will be hard in this case, as more guards will usually arrive quickly. However, the Frenzy spell cast into the midst of a crowd has a chance of killing all the witnesses.

Consequences of Committing CrimesEdit


See below for the bounty amounts associated with types of crime.

Any bounties you have are listed by hold on the General Stats page, Crime tab, of your journal, above the Total Lifetime Bounty. If no bounty is listed for any holds, then you do not currently have a bounty.

If your side gains a hold controlled by the opposing faction during the Civil War quests, or by making a trade during Season Unending, any bounty you have in that hold will be immediately cleared.

Crime GoldEdit

Dropping a weapon in a town may prompt a guard to warn you against doing so. Choosing the dialogue options "Yes, but I don't care" and "I'm not paying your bribe" will cause the notification "10 Crime Gold Added" to appear to the top left of the screen. Crime gold does not seem to have an effect upon any NPC interactions with you, but it does add the amount of crime gold to the hold's bounty.

Hired ThugsEdit

If you steal or murder, rather than receiving a bounty, you may be targeted by Hired Thugs sent by the victim of the theft or a relative of the deceased. Even if you were not seen, or there were no witnesses, you may still be targeted. They can be a tough fight at low levels, but there is no penalty for killing them. One will carry a note saying who paid them, but this note will have no effect on your future relations with that NPC - you won't even be able to confront them about it. In other words, the game will treat the event as though nothing had ever happened.

Stolen ItemsEdit

Stolen items in your inventory will be marked with the word 'Stolen', even if you were able to steal the item without being detected. As long as this tag is present, the item is considered stolen. Any stolen items in your possession will be confiscated and retained by the guards if you are arrested. All items that are confiscated as a result of your arrest or jail time will be stored in an evidence chest in the jail of the hold. The chest is locked with an expert or master lock and is usually in the same room as the chest with your gear (when jailed). Reclaiming confiscated items will not remove the "stolen" status on them.

Furthermore, standard merchants will not buy stolen items. However, joining the Thieves Guild provides access to fences who are willing to buy such merchandise. In addition, unlocking the Speech skill's Fence perk allows stolen goods to be sold to any merchant that you have invested in. The stolen flag can be cleared from some items by selling the item to a fence and then buying it back. If you have the Merchant perk from the Speech perk tree, reverse-pickpocketing the item onto a merchant and then buying it back also clears the flag. However, these methods do not work on some items such as the Ancient Nord Amulet, and there are other items such as the Statue of Dibella that appear to have their stolen tags removed by these methods, but the stolen status will return if the item is dropped.

Anything completely consumed in crafting will not transfer its stolen flag to the new item; this includes stolen ingredients used in Alchemy to create potions, stolen food and stolen ingredients used in cooking and bakingHF, soul gems used in Enchanting, stolen hides and pelts used in tanning, stolen ore and dwarven materials used at smelters, leather, ingots, gems, or other materials used to make or improve weapons, armor, rings, amulets, and building materialsHF through Smithing, as well as anything used at a carpenter's workbenchHF. However, improving a stolen weapon or piece of armor through Smithing will not clear its stolen flag, nor will enchanting a stolen item. Stolen items may be used for quests where you are required to provide a particular item to a person; if the quest giver wants a mammoth tusk or nirnroot, a stolen tusk or nirnroot will work just as well as a non-stolen item. Also, stolen crops may be sold to farmers (assuming they are a type of crop that that particular farm grows), stolen ore may be sold to mine owners (if it's the right kind of ore) and stolen firewood may be sold to mill owners, all for exactly the same amount as they would pay for honestly-obtained merchandise.

Pickpocketing multiple items at once, such as pickpocketing 12 arrows from a guard, will result in only one arrow actually being considered stolen. The entire item stack will say that the arrows are stolen, but dropping your arrow stack will separate the arrows into the large stack of legally acquired arrows (including the 11 not-marked-stolen arrows from the guard) and the one stolen arrow. Should you steal multiple items of the same type, each item considered stolen is tracked separately when dropped.

Gold can sometimes be marked as stolen, though the cause of this occurrence is unknown. If you are arrested while carrying gold that is marked as stolen, the amount of gold that is considered "stolen" will be confiscated. Gold that is marked as stolen can be used at merchants (even ones which are not fences) normally, used as bribe money, and used to buy and improve property in each hold from the hold's steward.

Getting ArrestedEdit

If you have a bounty, guards from the hold in which the bounty applies will attempt to arrest you. You can ask the guards to ignore a small crime (100 bounty or under), by using persuasion. However, you will have to ask every guard to overlook the crime to stop them from confronting you. If you run from the guards, they will chase you.

If you cancel the dialogue when guards attempt to arrest you, they will attack you without allowing you to pay your fine, no matter how minor. If this happens, attempt to yield by sheathing your spells or weapons (or draw, attack, then sheathe them if they are not already drawn - guards will continue to attack you if you simply stand there unarmed and attempt to talk to them), or leave, allow a few days of in-game time to pass, and return. However, if you have a follower with you, this (or even opening the dialogue options) may be impossible, as your follower will very likely attack the guard no matter what you do; if you are traveling to a hold where guards are currently hostile to you, you might want to dismiss your follower, or have them wait elsewhere.

When you are arrested by a guard you have several options: If you are a thane, you can so declare, pay the bounty, bribe or persuade the guard, go to jail, or resist arrest. If you are accosted by a guard in an Orc stronghold, going to jail isn't an option; you can only pay the bounty or resist arrest.

Paying the BountyEdit

If you choose to pay off your bounty, all stolen items in your possession will be seized and put into the jail's evidence chest. If your bounty is low, the guard will deduct the fine from your current gold on the spot and you'll be free to go. Otherwise, you will be immediately transported outside the nearest town jail, and the fine will be deducted from your current gold. If you are a Thieves Guild member and have done a reputation quest, you can pay a much lower fine and keep your stolen items in the relevant hold.

Going to JailEdit

If you cannot (or choose not to) pay your bounty, you will be incarcerated in the nearest jail. You are able to keep one lockpick, which you can use to try to escape. In some cells, there are additional hidden lockpicks or food items.

Escaping JailEdit

If you do escape, your bounty will remain. You may find particular methods to escape from certain cells; for example, you may be able to break through a weak, crumbling wall. You may be able to pickpocket the jail key from a passing guard.

It's also possible to have the guards open your cell door for you by attacking them five times, with shouts, spells, or a Bound Bow. Once angered, they will unlock your cell door and attack you. In this case, you must not only survive the fight, but you may also find it difficult or impossible to access and recover your confiscated items.

If taken to Dragonsreach Dungeon in Whiterun, there is a novice-locked grating that leads to an unguarded sewer. There is a small, barred window high up on a wall in a room on the lower level of the sewer that allows you to easily access the belongings chest without getting caught. A ladder leads to the guard barracks, which normally contains only two guards, which you can easily sneak past. Once outside, you can fast travel to another hold (or Helgen, if you've not yet discovered another hold). Since its jail is the easiest from which to escape, Whiterun hold may be the best in which to commit a crime toward the ultimate goal of winning the Wanted (escape from jail) achievement (although getting your belongings back from a Master-locked chest with only one lockpick is another matter entirely, unless you can sneak well enough to pickpocket a guard for the key before dropping into the sewer) - with the possible exception of The Chill dungeon in Winterhold, in which you keep all your equipment but have to fight your way past four hostile frost atronachs.

The Dremora ButlerDB can be used to make jail escapes much easier. He can be made to carry extra lockpicks and fighting gear that can be accessed even when in jail.

Serving Your SentenceEdit

To serve your sentence, sleep in a cell bed. You'll awaken when your time has been served. You will lose progress towards one or more skill level advancements; the longer your sentence, the more skills so affected. The maximum sentence is seven days; if you serve seven days, your skill advancement will be cleared for every skill. You will serve the maximum sentence for any bounty 700 or higher.

Jail in The ReachEdit

If you go to jail in The Reach, then you will be taken to Cidhna Mine. If you are arrested because of completing The Forsworn Conspiracy, then the quest No One Escapes Cidhna Mine will start, and you must complete that quest to escape Cidhna Mine. Otherwise, there is no possibility of escape, and no cell bed for you to sleep in. In order to serve your time, pick up a pickaxe, and activate one of the silver ore veins in the mine as if you were going to mine it. You will be released into Markarth.

Resisting ArrestEdit

Resisting arrest will cause all guards in the area to attack you. If you change your mind, yielding to a guard by sheathing your weapon or spells may prompt them to stop attacking and to arrest you again, presenting the same options. Sometimes, you cannot yield, and the guards will simply continue to attack. A sufficiently powerful Calm spell^ will stop the guards from attacking, though speaking to them again will result in another arrest attempt. Another way to try to stop such an attack is to punch an innocent person, keep your fists raised and then try to yield again. Finally, PC users can use the console command player.scaonactor to immediately end all combat involving the player.

^Most guards have the same level scaling, PCx1(20-50). This means even the Calm spell can do the job, if you have the necessary 3 support perks, as Kindred Mage applies to them. Pacify will also work, but Harmony will not, as that spell caps out at affecting level 43 targets, unless you are a vampire, raising the cap on the spell to 53.

Persuading a GuardEdit

Occasionally another option will appear if you have a low bounty. You can attempt to persuade the guard that you are not worth the effort of dealing with, and should then be allowed to go free. Success partially depends on your Speech skill level. If successful, you will gain Speech experience points (XP), but will not clear your bounty.

If your speech is 75 or higher, you'll always have this option if the guard has not been persuaded already. To attempt to persuade the same guard again, wait 2 days and the option will be available again. You can try to find a different guard to persuade by resisting and then surrendering near another one.

Declaring ThaneshipEdit

If you are the thane of a hold, you can declare this to the guard. This will immediately clear a bounty of less than 3000, but can only be done once per hold (twice if the hold is captured during the civil war and you are made a thane by the new jarl).

Bribing a GuardEdit

Thieves Guild members have the option to bribe the guard. The amount of gold required to bribe a guard is usually much larger than the bounty for small crimes, but less than that for murder. Successful bribing will increase Speech skill XP, immediately clear your bounty, and avoid having items confiscated. The Bribery Speech perk also grants you this option. Bribing will clear only the bounty incurred for the recently witnessed crime.

You can also bribe a guard to look the other way, which will not clear your bounty. The amount for the bribe to look the other way does not seem to be calculated according to your bounty, however, and when you have a small bounty it is often more than your bounty.

The Bounty CollectorEdit

If your bounty is above 1000 gold in any hold, you may be confronted by a bounty collector. Unlike guards, he may confront you in a hold that is different from the one in which you have the bounty. When you encounter him, he will run up to you and demand you pay him an amount of gold equal to your bounty in that hold, plus 20% for his fee. If you pay, your bounty will be cleared in that hold, and you can keep any stolen items in your possession. If you pickpocket or kill the collector after paying him, he won't have that money in his inventory. Also, use his services at your own risk as the bounty may still be present in the hold that he collects the bounty for, even after paying him.

Guard DialogueEdit

Skyrim GuardsEdit

Confronted by a guard after incurring a bounty:
"By order of the Jarl, stop right there!"
"You have committed crimes against Skyrim and her people. What say you in your defense?"

  • I'm with the Guild. Is this enough to clear my bounty? (Only available after you joined the Thieves Guild, and completed a quest for the capital of the hold that you are currently in)
"I can make all your problems with the guards go away. But it'll cost you. What do you say?"
  • Yes, clear my bounty.
"Done. Now move along, before you get me in trouble."
  • Too rich for my blood.
"Suit yourself, but you better decide what you want to do about this arrest. No one walks away for free."
  • I'm with the Guild. How about you look the other way? (Only available after joining the Thieves Guild)
"All right, all right. Just keep your voice down and don't let me catch you again."
"Everything here appears to be in order. You can move along now."
"Since you put it that way, I think we can overlook your crime for now."
  • How about I pay you some gold and you look the other way?
"Well... maybe just this once. But there's still a price on your head. Better make yourself scarce, or we'll have to do this little dance again."
  • I'm the Jarl's Thane. I demand you let me go at once.
"Oh, forgive me, Thane. I didn't realize it was you. We'll look the other way this time, but even the Jarl's influence has its limits. Be more careful."
  • Any chance I could talk you into overlooking this? (Persuade)
"All right, but you just watch yourself. Next time, I might not be so lenient."
  • You caught me. I'll pay off my bounty.
"Good enough. I'll just confiscate any stolen goods you're carrying, then you're free to go."
"Smart man/woman. Now come along with us. We'll take any stolen goods, and you'll be free to go. After you pay the fine, of course."
  • I submit. Take me to jail.
"It's off to Cidhna Mine for you." (Markarth)
"A stretch in the Castle Dour Dungeon will straighten you right out." (Solitude)
"You're going to rot in the Dragonsreach Dungeon." (Whiterun)
"Ha, enjoy the Chill." (Winterhold)
"I guess you're smarter than you look." (General reply)
  • I'd rather die than go to prison! (Guards turn hostile)
"Time to cleanse the Empire of its filth." (Imperial Soldier)
"Then suffer the Emperor's wrath." (Imperial Soldier)
"Skyrim has no use for your kind." (Stormcloak Soldier)
"Then let me speed your passage to Sovngarde!" (Stormcloak Soldier)
"Then pay with your blood."
"That can be arranged."
"So be it."

Confronted by a guard while wearing Stormcloak equipment in Imperial Legion–held territory:
"What do you think you're doing, walking around dressed like a damn Stormcloak traitor?"

  • Sorry, I didn't mean anything by it.
"Well. I'll let it slide this time. But you'd be smart to take that off. Someone might get the wrong idea."
  • I'm a proud supporter of Ulfric Stormcloak. What of it?
"Is that right? Here's how the Legion deals with rebel scum like you." (Guards turn hostile)

Confronted by a guard while wearing Imperial Soldier equipment in Stormcloak Rebellion–held territory:
"You've got a lot of nerve, walking around here dressed like an Imperial Legionnaire."

  • Sorry, I didn't mean anything by it.
"Hmm. I still don't like it, but I guess I'll overlook it. This time."
  • I'm loyal to the Empire and don't care who knows it.
"You don't seem to realize there's a war on. What you are is a damn Imperial spy!" (Guards turn hostile)

Confronted by a guard after dropping a weapon:
"You shouldn't leave weapons laying around. Someone could get hurt. And if I see you do it again, that someone will be you. Have I made myself clear?"

  • I'm sorry.
"See that it doesn't happen again."
  • You have... But I don't care.
"No? Do you care about rotting away for a month in a cell? Ah, but nobody wants that, right? Painful for you, annoying for me. So, you pay my fine... and you walk away."
  • Fine. Take it. (Pay 50 gold)
"See, that wasn't so difficult, was it?"
  • I'm not paying you a bribe.
"Is that so? Well then, I'll have to charge you with disturbing the Jarl's peace. (Guard attempts arrest)

Confronted by a guard after using a shout:
"I need to ask you to stop. That... shouting... is making people nervous."

  • Won't happen again.
"Good. Glad we straightened that out."
  • Too bad. There's more where that came from.
"Can't say I've heard of any laws against... whatever that is you're doing. But I'll lock you up if I have to."
  • Won't happen again.
  • Whatever.
"I've got my eye on you."

Confronted by a guard when a dead body has been discovered nearby:
"You there! Wait a moment."
"You there. What do you know about this?"

  • I'm not sure what happened.
"Hmm... If you happen to recollect anything about the incident, you be sure to report to the captain of the guard. I've got my eye on you." (If weapon or magic is sheathed)
"Then perhaps you care to explain why you are standing so close to a dead body with your weapon drawn?" (If weapon or magic is drawn)
  • Force of habit, I guess
"I see... and this "force of habit," does it also compel you to murder?"
  • Don't know what else to say... I had nothing to do with this.
"Hmmm... You can go, but you stay on your best behavior now. I've got my eye on you."
  • I'm not answering any questions.
"Is that so? Well, perhaps a night in jail might loosen your tongue. Hmmm?"
  • I'm not sure what happened.
  • Doesn't scare me.
"Alright, you are now under arrest."
  • I'd rather die than go to jail!
"Resisting arrest will mean your death." (Guards turn hostile)
  • Okay, I'll come quietly.
"You're smarter than you look." (Player is sent to Jail)
  • I'm not answering any questions.
  • Don't know what else to say... I had nothing to do with this.
  • I'm not answering any questions.

Recognized by a guard when having a low bounty:
"Wait... I know you."

  • You're making a mistake...
"There's no mistake. You're a wanted man/woman... and it's time to pay for your crimes."
"The only mistake was you showing your face. You've committed crimes against Skyrim and her people, and it's time to face the Jarl's justice."
  • I don't have time for this. Do you?
"You know what? You're not worth the hassle. Go... be some other guard's problem."
"Well, your bounty is low... All right, get out of my sight. But you're known to me now, scum. Remember that."

When seen transforming into a Werewolf:
"What in the...?" (Guards turn hostile)

When pursued by guards:
"That'll teach you to break the law on my watch."
"I thought it was finally going to be a quiet day."
"You really thought you could get away with it?"
"Don't get any bright ideas."
"Stop, in the name of the Jarl!"
"Come quietly or taste the Jarl's justice."
"By order of the Jarl, I command you to halt!"
"Sheathe your weapons and come quietly!"

When discovering a dead body:
"Alright now. Everyone back away. Let the law handle this."
"If anyone saw anything, step forward. Otherwise step away from the body!"

During The Forsworn ConspiracyEdit

The guards in Markarth will have different dialogue during a certain stage of the The Forsworn Conspiracy. There is no way to clear your bounty and no other options other than going to jail or resisting arrest; the former option is required in order to complete the quest and begin No One Escapes Cidhna Mine.

Confronted by a guard after returning to the Shrine of Talos:
"Halt. You're under arrest for murder and conspiracy against the city of Markarth!"

  • What's the problem?
"The "problem" is your disrespect for the laws of this land. It's time to face the Jarl's justice."
  • I'm with the Guild. How about you look the other way? (Only available after you joined the Thieves Guild)
"I don't care who you're with. After what you did, you're lucky I'm not cutting you down where you stand!"
  • How about I pay you some gold and you look the other way?
"Not a chance. Not for this. You're going to the Cidhna Mine for the rest of your days."
  • I'm the Jarl's Thane. I demand you let me go at once.
"No one in the Jarl's court is above the charge of conspiring against the city. You're coming with us."
  • Any chance I could talk you into overlooking this? (Persuade)
"You're not sweet-talking your way out of this. Not after what you did. You're headed to Cidhna Mine, and that's that."
  • You caught me. I'll pay off my bounty.
"You aren't fooling me. Trusted witnesses have seen you commit several murders. And there are accounts of your suspicious behavior throughout the city. Now come quietly."
  • I submit. Take me to jail.
"You'll never see the sun again. No one escapes Cidhna Mine. No one."
  • I'd rather die than go to prison! (Guards turn hostile)
"Then pay with your blood."
"That can be arranged."
"So be it."

Recognized by a guard in Markarth:
"In the name of the Jarl, I'm ordering you to stand fast!"

  • You're making a mistake...
"You're the one who conspired with the Forsworn against Markarth! You're coming with me, murderer!"

Orc Stronghold GuardsEdit

Confronted by a guard after incurring a bounty:
"By the Code of Malacath, you must pay bloodprice for your crimes. Which will it be, blood or gold?"
"There are no jails in an Orc Stronghold, criminal. You must pay in gold or blood."
"Your crimes offend the Code of Malacath and we demand payment. Choose. Gold or blood."

Confronted by a guard with insufficient funds to clear bounty:
"Stop, outlander! You must pay bloodprice for your crimes."

  • I'll pay. Don't worry.
"Typical outlander weakling. But your gold will strengthen our clan."
"Huh. Okay. We'll test your mettle another day."
  • I don't have the gold right now. (Guards turn hostile)
"Then your poverty is my reward. Kill or be killed!"
  • Over my dead body. (Guards turn hostile)
"Today is a good day to die."
"Fight well, and I'll make sure your corpse is not dishonored."
"For your crimes, may Malacath boil your blood and grind your bones." (Unused)

Recognized by a guard when having a low bounty:

"Stop, outlander. You must pay for your crimes in blood or gold."
"You've broken the Code of Malacath. Your choice - pay with your blood or your gold."
"We haven't forgotten your crimes, outlander."

When pursued by guards:
"Halt, outlander!"
"Surrender or die, outlander!"
"Clanfolk, stop the outlander!"
"Hold, there!"
"Lay down your weapons!"

Redoran GuardsDBEdit

Confronted by a guard after incurring a bounty:
"In House Redoran's name, I order you to stop!"
"You have committed crimes against the Dunmer people of Solstheim. What say you in your defense?"

  • I'm with the Guild. How about you look the other way? (Only available after joining the Thieves Guild)
"Well, I suppose I could forget that I saw you this time."
  • How about I pay you some gold and you look the other way?
"All right, just keep it quiet. I warn you though, there's still a price on your head. Next guard you run into might not be so... agreeable."
  • Any chance I could talk you into overlooking this? (Persuade)
"Very well, you're free to go. Next time you might not be so lucky."
  • You caught me. I'll pay off my bounty.
"Good enough. I'll just remove any stolen goods on you, and then you're free to go."
"Wise choice. Now come along with us. After we confiscate any stolen goods, you'll be free to go. After you pay the fine, of course."
  • I submit. Take me to jail.
"Right then! Off to the Bulwark with you."
  • I'd rather die than go to prison! (Guards turn hostile)
"Good. I've been itching for a fight."
"If death is what you seek... I'll be happy to oblige!"
"Then in House Redoran's name, you'll get your wish!"
"Solstheim has no use for your kind!"

Recognized by a guard when having a low bounty:
"One moment... you look familiar"
"Stop right there... where have I seen you before?"

  • You're making a mistake...
"The only mistake here belongs to you. You're a wanted man/woman and there's no way I'm letting you walk away."
"There's no mistake. You've committed crimes against the Dunmer people of Solstheim, and in the name of House Redoran it's time to face justice."
  • I don't have time for this. Do you?
"I suppose I can overlook it for now, but you better keep your hands clean or I'll come after you again... You got that?"
"You're lucky the bounty on you is so low, otherwise I'd be hauling you to the Bulwark myself. Get out of my sight."

When seen transforming into a Werewolf:
"What in the name of Azura...?" (Guards turn hostile)


  • Unlike in Oblivion, you will not lose any past skill increases if jailed. You will only lose progress toward one or more skill level increases.
  • The Stallion's Potion involved in the quest Bothela's Discreet Delivery is marked as stolen while in your inventory, even though you obtained it legitimately.
  • If an item, such as a kettle or basket, is covering an NPC's head when you commit a crime in front of them, they will not report the crime.
  • Shouting in a city may result in a warning from a city guard, but will not increase your bounty unless the shout is an attack and hits a citizen.
  • You can store all your gear and gold in a nearby outdoor container such as a barrel before a guard approaches you and begins the dialogue that may lead to jail. In this case, your stuff—including any stolen items—will be there when you return, as long as the container does not respawn in the meantime. Make sure the barrel isn't owned before you do this (rollover text is red), or everything you take from it afterwards will be considered stolen, even if it wasn't beforehand.
  • Conquering a hold during the Civil War questline will remove any bounty you may have accumulated in that hold.
  • Attacking non-hostile animals without killing them in one blow may increase Assault status counter, though bounty was never applied.


  • There are a number of bugs where you may receive a bounty in the wrong hold, or for attacking/pickpocketing a hostile NPC that is meant to be attacked, or an NPC out in the wilderness who should not be able to report crimes. This usually happens because the NPC is erroneously part of a hold's crime faction, which determines whether actions against this NPC are considered crimes. Conversely, crimes against an NPC may be ignored if they are not part of any crime faction. Details are generally noted on the page of the respective NPC. ?
  • Sometimes, declaring thaneship will result in the guards sheathing their weapons, and then immediately resuming combat. Fleeing the hold and returning (with your weapon sheathed) will often fix the problem.
  • Stolen gold will sometimes be marked as such in your inventory, though not always. As with most stolen goods they are placed at the bottom of the pile and it can be hard to get rid of the tag from the rest of your gold. If arrested by guards, they will not confiscate any stolen gold. Merchants will take the stolen gold off you.
    • Putting the gold in a container and getting a follower to 'take all' items out of the container will clear the tag. Retrieve the gold from the follower to use it.
    • If you have a low enough amount, you can use it all to buy items off a merchant, then sell them items back to 'launder' the money and clear the tag.
  • If your bounty is between 101 and 1000 gold, inclusive, guards may repeatedly say "Wait... I know you" without ever offering the option to pay your bounty. This can block several quests.
    Mod Notes: The line "The only mistake was you showing your face" has an incorrect gender check which should be removed.
    • Attack a guard and you will be presented with the customary options.
  • Performing a murder in one hold may actually add to your bounty in another hold instead, if you are spotted by a person who normally belongs in that other hold.
  • Declaring your thaneship and then interrupting the guard or walking away while the guard is talking to you may cause the script that removes your bounty to fail, and the next time you are arrested you have lost the ability to declare your thaneship.
  • It can become impossible to clear your bounty in Markarth or submit to the guards and be sent to jail. When you agree to be sent to jail the dialogue just starts up again. This happens if you resist arrest at the Shrine of Talos.
  • Even if you commit a crime with no witnesses around, guards may still become aware of it and confront you. ?
    • Leaving the area and waiting for 24 hours may fix this.
  • If you transform into a werewolf or vampire lord (out of sight of witnesses), go and kill someone (such as Shel at Dushnikh Yal), then run away from everyone and revert back to your regular form (again, away from witnesses) and go back to where you killed that person, you might hear everyone berating you for your crime, even though you're supposed to be unrecognized when in werewolf or vampire lord form. Upon entering conversation with the surrounding NPCs you will be greeted normally (as if a crime never happened). However, every time you visit the location again, everyone still yells at you in ambient, non-conversation dialogue. ?
  • If sent on an Animal Extermination quest for the Companions, your trespassing statistic may be increased merely by entering the house where the animal is. ?
  • There are many instances where actions that should not be considered assault, are nevertheless added to the player's crime statistics (for example, killing the Butcher at the end of the Blood on the Ice quest is counted as an assault). ?
  • Killing someone in the wilderness (such as the random encounter Skooma Dealer, or a solitary hunter) with no others around may still result in a bounty for assault, even though you killed the "witness" in the process (the person you attacked), which should erase said bounty, but it doesn't. ?


Achievements related to crime are:

  •   Master Criminal (20 points/Bronze) — Bounty of 1000 gold in all nine holds
    • You can track your progress towards the achievement using the bounties listed for each hold on the Crime page of your journal's General Stats; you have to have all nine bounties simultaneously.
  •   Thief (30 points/Silver) — Pick 50 locks and 50 pockets
    • You can track your progress towards the achievement using the "Locks Picked" and "Pockets Picked" statistics on the Crime page of your journal's General Stats.
  •   Wanted (10 points/Bronze) — Escape from jail
  • The Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood also have several achievements.