Wanting justice for victims is understandable. But it seems we live in an age where we almost immediately believe anyone who claims to be a victim. Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers finds it concerning that trial by media seems to be the accepted norm nowadays. This can have significant consequences for everyone, as even the innocent can be made to suffer from false allegations. Even people that help strangers. Even victims.
Kenan Basic, a 36-year-old who spent nearly two hours helping 19-year-old Caitlyn Gray by fixing her car. A few days later, Ms Gray made claims that resulted in Mr Basic being charged with two counts of acts of indecency, one count of inciting a person over the age of 16 to commit an act of indecency and one count of stalk and intimidate intending to cause fear or physical harm.
The 36-year-old father lost his job, his wife commenced divorce proceedings and spent time in a maximum-security prison thanks to the lies told by Ms Gray. Most people would agree that is a harsh reward for helping a stranger. Eventually all charges were dropped against Mr Basic. However, Mr Basic could have suffered far worse, as the prosecutor in his case stated, “If not for CCTV footage and the follow-up investigation, Basic would’ve spent months in custody”. Even famous celebrities are not safe from false accusers.
Kevin Spacey, an actor of wide renown after his performances in The Usual Suspects, American Beauty and more recently Netflix’s House of Cards, received multiple allegations in the #MeToo movement. Multiple allegations have been made against the actor, yet not a single criminal conviction has resulted.
Startingly, in the single allegation that actually went to court, the alleged victim pled his Fifth Amendment right to silence against self-incrimination. The judge said the alleged victim’s testimony would be stricken from the record. As if that fact was not alarming enough, the alleged victim’s mother (former Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh) admitted in Court to tampering with evidence (to deleting text messages between the actor and the alleged victim) before handing the telephone to police. The alleged victim’s mother was a television talk show host, and arguably should have known better.
Most surprisingly of all however, the prosecution in Mr Spacey’s case, lied about possessing evidence that Mr Spacey’s attorneys requested. For over a year and a half the prosecutors did not give Mr Spacey’s attorneys evidence that was being used against Mr Spacey. It is difficult, if not impossible to have a fair trial, which is the Sixth Amendment Right in the USA, if you do not even know all the information that is being used against you. Information that is being used to curtail your freedoms and liberty, information that can place you behind bars for years.
No one seems to care that Mr Spacey’s right to a fair trial was breached, or that the prosecution willingly let Mr Spacey’s reputation be dragged through the mud for over a year and a half whilst they sat on evidence that could have aided his case. Regardless of your feelings towards good samaritans and celebrities, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers asks you to consider the undeniable consequences of the lies told by people claiming to be victims on real victims.
False allegations made by liars make it far more difficult for true victims to achieve justice, because victims are questioned, if not interrogated in a court of law and the truth of their claims determined by a judge or jury that was not present when the crime occurred. This is especially the case when the victim has not come forth for years, which means there is likely to be little or no physical evidence available.
NSW legislation recognizes the disadvantage accused persons face in such a situation, so courts are required to inform juries that the defendant (the accused) has suffered a significant forensic disadvantage, which can include that potential witnesses have died or are not able to be located, or if potential evidence has been lost or is otherwise unavailable, under Section 165B of the Evidence Act (NSW).
The lesson, please remember
In this country, you are innocent until proven guilty. When you have been charged with a criminal offence, any criminal offence, you do not have to say or do anything, it is the prosecution that bears the burden of proof and must make a case that satisfies this high standard of proof, that you have committed all the elements of a criminal offence beyond reasonable doubt. As an accused person, you only bear the burden of proof when you are claiming a defence, such as self-defence.
Societal punishments of an accused person are not fair, because celebrities are more well known than most people, and thus may receive additional punishment for the same offence committed by a regular person who isn’t well known by the media. People who punish celebrities for offences those celebrities are accused of, do not know the punishments that celebrity has suffered by everyone else who punishes them. Such potential punishments can include loss of employment opportunities, friends, suffering insults and potentially even threats. It is unfair, that a person who has not been convicted of a criminal offence (such as Mr Basic) is made to suffer.