We all think we are "impenetrable" and most of us believe that no real harm or evil will come upon us. Most of time that is true in life, but not always. Just ask some of the people to come to me for legal help!
Our System may be the best Adversarial System ever invented
There is no question that our judicial system is the best ever invented. The problem is that in every case it’s literally a “fight”. Our judicial system is designed as the ultimate game of "Throne’s". It’s the king-size lawyer game that can be the adversarial "fight for your life" if you are being accused.
How easy is it to make false Allegations?
Let’s look at what it takes for someone to make a false allegation in our society. First, you have to have a creative story. Second, that story has to entail another individual who allegedly committed a crime perpetrated upon you or another. Third, there has to be some credibility to the fabrication. In other words, it can’t be completely outlandish. It has to be believable and something that could have happened.
Next, let’s look at the relatively rudimentary process of how to begin such a situation. If the allegation happens to involve a alleged offense such as sex crime, domestic violence, guns or any other high-profile scenario, the chances of the “system” coming to the person who makes the allegation’s rescue is very high.
People in our society have been making false allegations since the beginning of time. Simply look at the story of Socrates and Aristotle and how “group think” can convince any arbiter of one’s guilt. Collective thinking among groups or sometimes political parties cry out for conviction of individuals of crimes that to them seem obvious. The problem is, with this group thinking eventually even individuals in the group may be criticized or even accused to suit the needs of the group itself.
It is extremely easy for someone to make an allegation that a sex offense or assault occurred. Don’t get me wrong, people who make accusations of sex crimes or other crimes often tell the truth and have nowhere to turn except the police or authorities. The sad thing about these situations is that usually no one is the winner. A person who is a legitimate victim of a sex crime or domestic violence crime usually end up where their life is either ruined or other major problems are caused. This is especially true when children have been abused or violated in any way.
But as the old saying goes, "you can’t throw the baby out with the dirty tub water", the same rule applies when you are trying to discern whether or not a victim is telling the truth regarding abuse. The states attorney’s office or in some cases the United States attorney’s office has an extremely difficult job of trying to discern the truth from lies.
Prosecutors have difficult jobs!
So, how can Prosecutors determine whether or not an alleged victim is being genuine in their allegations or if they have ulterior motives? The answer is that it’s almost impossible to tell in many circumstances. Prosecutors have a duty to the public to bring cases they believe are true and valid based upon the evidence presented. But what exactly is evidence according to prosecutors and what is in evidence? Usually, the first bit of evidence comes from the victim himself/herself. In other words, they complain about an assault or some sort of improper sexual contact. The next set of evidence is something I call "circumstantial evidence" that can assist the prosecution in their case or in many circumstances actually help the alleged defendant in their case.
Social Media Plays a big role in these Cases
For example, in today’s society text messages and social media play a major part and role in trying to determine where a particular person was at a specific time and place and what their intent may have been in a particular circumstance. Important questions the prosecutor may ask are things like, did the victim voluntarily put themselves in a situation that would show consent? Did the victim actually show consent and then changed his or her mind? Is the victim’s story credible? Social media is playing a large role in answering these questions.
The issue then usually becomes what about the alleged perpetrator? Prosecutors and police are obligated to at least try and obtain information from the alleged perpetrator in order to determine if in fact they have an explanation for the alleged acts. Most people who know me and who have read my blogs know that I am adamantly against anyone talking to the police, agents or any law enforcement without a lawyer being present. However, despite the ardent atmosphere the state is charged with the requirement to try and get a explanation from a potential defendant. If the defendant does not wish to discuss the issue than the detectives will present the evidence to the states attorney’s office to make a determination about whether or not charges will be forthcoming.
A Small piece of evidence can turn the case around
In many of these cases small minute bits of evidence could totally change the outcome of a case. Without giving any names or information about the case itself, I’ll give you a brief scenario of a sex offense matter that I just tried in Baltimore city not long ago. Here are the alleged facts.
Portrait of a Sex offense case
Both parties agreed that this young lady asked this young man to do her laundry for her at his place of residence. She is single and so is he. He picked her up near her home and they both went back to his place. As stated, the intent was for the male to do her laundry and possibly them to socialize for a bit. The stories are identical from both parties until they began discussing what happened inside the location.
No one was home except for these two and the male dutifully began to do her laundry for her as a favor. She began to do some homework since she was still in college and eventually they began to watch a movie as the laundry was being completed. At some point in time the male began making dinner for both of them and was going in and out of the room checking the dinner while she was watching TV.
The alleged victim stated that as time went on, the male sat down next to her and began to touch her legs. In her application for charges which were about 8 to 10 pages long she was very dramatic in the way she indicated that this happen. Although she wrote things over and over again the meaning was very foggy as to how these things occurred. However, she indicated that he touched her on her leg several times despite her asking him to stop. In fact, she indicated that she removed his hand from her leg quite a few times. She indicated that he would get up and continue making the dinner and she would sit there waiting for him to come back while she watched a movie. She then indicated that he began touching her in other parts of her body such as her vagina and breasts. She stated that she began to "give in" a little bit and actually initiated a kiss. The type of kiss described was disputed but the defendant indicated that the kiss was in fact a legitimate "passion kiss".
The alleged victim testified that this abuse continued quite a few times as the afternoon progressed. Despite this, she never made an attempt to leave and never at that point in time called anyone on her cell phone. At some point in time after the two began eating dinner she asked to leave and this individual male walked her out the front door to his car to take her home.
Interesting enough, on direct examination this alleged victim became so excited and upset that she began to do demonstrate behavior that indicated that she was having a"major thought process" disorder. She became so visibly upset and began shaking that one of the Court social workers had to intervene very strenuously in order to calm her down. In fact, this went on for quite a while and some of the things she was saying out of her mouth indicated that she had some sort of delusional behavior. My cross-examination was stopped based upon this behavior.
Based upon her behavior I made a motion with the court to ask that she be required to undergo a psychiatric examination to see if she understood what was going on. Because there is really no precedent for requiring a victim to undergo a mandatory psychiatric evaluation in Maryland, the motion was denied. The case continued a few weeks later and she completed her examination. I finished my cross-examination to show any inconsistencies in her statement. The defendant also testified. After listening to the case the judge determined that the defendant was not guilty because the state had not proven its case.
My point is this. It was obvious in this matter that this alleged victim had unfortunately major serious emotional difficulties unrelated to this case and anything that allegedly occurred. It is very difficult in these matters to cross-examine or show the court pre-existing psychiatric or mental illness related to the allegations or charges. Of course, that can be sought and it can become an issue but there is a very high standard that must be met in order to do so. In many cases it cannot.
It was obvious that this defendant did not commit any of these acts. This defendant had no previous criminal record of any significance and was an upstanding member of the community. The mere fact that he was charged with a sex offenses put him in a situation where the rest of the community showed much disdain and anger towards him and his family in many ways. Eventually, he was exonerated but the damage was done. Additionally, he was arrested, given a high bond and put through the emotional stress associated with this type of trial.
There is no question that our system is adversarial. In many situations only the best adversarial attorney wins the day. Sometimes the facts control the situation and it’s an obvious outcome but in other situations it is not. That is why it is very important to have a lawyer that can gather all the information so they can be presented prior to or at trial.