Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

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Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Cynical Idealist » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:37 am UTC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/engl ... 466096.stm
Spoiler:
Hampshire woman jailed for false rape claim

A woman who made a false rape allegation that led to an innocent man being arrested has been jailed.
Rosanne England, 21, cut and then tore her underwear and scratched her own face before telling police a masked stranger had entered her house.
Derek Cummings, 59, who had never met England, was arrested because he fitted the description and had no alibi.
England, of Holbury near Southampton, admitted perverting the course of justice and was jailed for 18 months.
Winchester Crown Court heard England told officers the man had asked to use her phone and toilet because his car had broken down.
She said after entering her home he donned a joke dog mask and attacked her in May last year.
The businesswoman gave Hampshire police a detailed description and officers launched a manhunt and produced an e-fit.
Mr Cummings, a married father of two teenage daughters who was at a sport and social club nearby, fitted the description and could not offer an alibi because he had been walking his dog in nearby woods alone.
He was arrested and held for 28 hours while samples were taken before being released on police bail.
However, the Forensic Science Service discovered that England's clothing had been cut before being torn and 24 days later she finally admitted to police the allegation was completely untrue.
Mr Cummings, who had suffered abuse from the public, was exonerated.
The court heard that England suffered from mental health problems and was receiving psychiatric help.
Affects 'real' victims
Mark Florida-James, prosecuting, said: "This allegation of a stranger attack was taken very seriously.
"The cul-de-sac where Miss England lived was cordoned off and the force aircraft was used to search the area.
"It is unfortunate he (Mr Cummings) was in the wrong place at the wrong time and bore a resemblance to the description.
"But at no point was there any evidence that Mr Cummings was involved.
"It was completely made up and fabricated and he was totally innocent."
Sentencing England, the Recorder of Winchester, Judge Keith Cutler, said that such an allegation could have left Mr Cummings facing a jail term of at least eight years.
He said: "There is a real effect of all this for women who are genuine victims of this horrendous crime of rape. If people make false claims it impacts on genuine claims and how they are treated."
Mr Cummings said he still had trouble from people close to where he lives in Fawley, Hampshire, who wrongly believe "there is no smoke without fire" and he cannot go into certain pubs.
"My family has been through hell," he said.
"I do not want to see a 21-year-old woman jailed but she knew I had been arrested and I was totally innocent. I have mixed feelings about her."


Honestly, I think its good that she's being punished. Making attacks up like that casts a lot of doubt on actual victims, and can completely ruin the lives of those falsely accused.
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby BlackSails » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:44 am UTC

Honestly, 18 months seems a bit light to me. She was willing to let a perfectly innocent man go to jail for nearly a decade and have his entire life utterly ruined.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby MrGee » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:45 am UTC

Raped by "Mr. Cummings"...exquisite

I am glad the police took this seriously. And fuck people who say "there's no smoke without fire". What about dry ice?

I assume the "light" sentence had to do with her supposed mental illness.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby jakovasaur » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:48 am UTC

If my prior experience on this forum is predictive, then this thread is quickly going to turn into a shitstorm. Is there really anything to say about this, other than she did a bad thing? Sorry if I'm mischaracterizing you, it just seems like an intentionally inflammatory post that's not going to end well.

Edit: respectfully withdrawn...
Last edited by jakovasaur on Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:43 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Aetius » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:50 am UTC

If you can satisfy the burden of proof (which in cases of false accusation usually require a confession from the accuser or rock tight alibi for the accused that would make the allegation physically impossible), by all means these cases should be prosecuted as serious crimes.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby poxic » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:50 am UTC

This kind of thing makes me a sad poxic. Sad for the man who was put through this unfairly, and for the young woman who thought this would help her out of some or other difficult situation, and for every legitimate case of rape that will have to push through just that much more bullshit to be believed.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby The Reaper » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:23 am UTC

MrGee wrote:Raped by "Mr. Cummings"...exquisite

I am glad the police took this seriously. And fuck people who say "there's no smoke without fire". What about dry ice?

I assume the "light" sentence had to do with her supposed mental illness.

the "smoke" from dry ice is condensation, no? and as such, not smoke, which is fine particulate from the rapid oxidation of something.

I'm annoyed that someone that abused the system like that got such a light sentence, mostly because it suddenly made the system much much more difficult for anyone actually needing its services.

Poor guy, too. :\

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby DeathIsTheEnd » Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:15 am UTC

I believe in cases of rape the defendant should not be named until found guilty, due to many even after being found innocent having their lives greatly affected. Either way I think this is a good thing.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:56 am UTC

Fucking Yes Mate!

I do appreciate that this could cause ripples for women reporting actual rapes, But there have been a number of highly documented cases of men's lives being destroyed by false allegations, and it was somewhat overdue that false reporting of such a serious crime was addressed properly
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby General_Norris » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:10 pm UTC

The sad thing is that this guy took a really hard blow to his reputation. Recently there was a similar case around here and the man nearly got killed because he was a "rapist" even though the guy did nothing. Sad thing. I'm pretty sure every TV channel made of him the worst people ever to live on Earth.

I have said it before, criminal charges should not be publicily known until they resolve. In fact, I don't think they should be known at all if the defendant is innocent.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby BlackSails » Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:46 pm UTC

DeathIsTheEnd wrote:I believe in cases of rape the defendant should not be named until found guilty, due to many even after being found innocent having their lives greatly affected. Either way I think this is a good thing.


Thats a pretty neat idea.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:48 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:
DeathIsTheEnd wrote:I believe in cases of rape the defendant should not be named until found guilty, due to many even after being found innocent having their lives greatly affected. Either way I think this is a good thing.


Thats a pretty neat idea.


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There is a rebuttal to that; I remember it being along the lines of "But many victims will only come forward, when their attacker is already accused"

However, Whilst thats quite applicable to stranger rape, invovling a serial rapist; The fact remains that the vast majority of victims know their attackers personally, even intmately.

I can see better ways of trying to deal with the situation Re: serial rapists than continuing to allow alledged attackers to be hounded throught he media right up until the point where they're found to be innocent. For instance if it was made easier and less unpleasant (degrading even) to report on real rapes, not only would the victim of stranger rape be more likely to come in; but all those other rape victims who probably feel depressed, unsure of whether they have recourse to the law or if they have some kind of responsiblity and marginalised.
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Roĝer » Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:18 pm UTC

Isn't there already protection of the privacy of the accused? In the Netherlands the face of the accused nor his last name may be publicised, are there similar laws in the UK?
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Indon » Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:37 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:Spoliered for potential trigger.
Spoiler:
There is a rebuttal to that; I remember it being along the lines of "But many victims will only come forward, when their attacker is already accused"

However, Whilst thats quite applicable to stranger rape, invovling a serial rapist; The fact remains that the vast majority of victims know their attackers personally, even intmately.

I can see better ways of trying to deal with the situation Re: serial rapists than continuing to allow alledged attackers to be hounded throught he media right up until the point where they're found to be innocent. For instance if it was made easier and less unpleasant (degrading even) to report on real rapes, not only would the victim of stranger rape be more likely to come in; but all those other rape victims who probably feel depressed, unsure of whether they have recourse to the law or if they have some kind of responsiblity and marginalised.


What the US military does to deal with that problem, is that they have a sexual assault/rape reporting system in which prosecution is an option: Someone can come forward, get physical and psychological help and therapy and such completely without question, and choose if they want to prosecute or if they want to keep the entire thing confidential.

The program has not only significantly increased reporting, but successful prosecution as well.
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Silas » Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:40 pm UTC

Roĝer wrote:Isn't there already protection of the privacy of the accused? In the Netherlands the face of the accused nor his last name may be publicised, are there similar laws in the UK?

In the United States, at least, unless there's a specific gag order (which courts are very reluctant to use), you're allowed to publish anything that's true. Actual truth, or a reasonable belief in truth, is a virtually ironclad defense against slander and libel. And it was unmistakably true that Cummings was arrested on suspicion of this rape.

(UK slander and libel laws are actually very different from US laws, but I don't know enough about them to explain here)
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Vaniver » Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:45 pm UTC

I am very relieved for Mr. Cummings; and I must admit no sympathy for the false accuser. Regardless of what's going wrong in your life, you don't have an excuse to ruin another's with false accusations. 18 months is too short.
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Philwelch » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:19 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:The sad thing is that this guy took a really hard blow to his reputation. Recently there was a similar case around here and the man nearly got killed because he was a "rapist" even though the guy did nothing. Sad thing. I'm pretty sure every TV channel made of him the worst people ever to live on Earth.

I have said it before, criminal charges should not be publicily known until they resolve. In fact, I don't think they should be known at all if the defendant is innocent.


The problem with that is that defendants are often *jailed*, and it's a big problem for people to be jailed in secret, much less jailed and tried.
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby MrGee » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:17 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:
General_Norris wrote:The sad thing is that this guy took a really hard blow to his reputation. Recently there was a similar case around here and the man nearly got killed because he was a "rapist" even though the guy did nothing. Sad thing. I'm pretty sure every TV channel made of him the worst people ever to live on Earth.

I have said it before, criminal charges should not be publicily known until they resolve. In fact, I don't think they should be known at all if the defendant is innocent.


The problem with that is that defendants are often *jailed*, and it's a big problem for people to be jailed in secret, much less jailed and tried.


I think the percentage of defendants remanded without bail is pretty small.

You could always compromise and say that if the crime warrants being remanded, you can publish the name.\

Edit: And in this case the guy was never even charged. Even if you held the name until charges were filed, it would be an improvement.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Malice » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:49 pm UTC

MrGee wrote:
Philwelch wrote:
General_Norris wrote:The sad thing is that this guy took a really hard blow to his reputation. Recently there was a similar case around here and the man nearly got killed because he was a "rapist" even though the guy did nothing. Sad thing. I'm pretty sure every TV channel made of him the worst people ever to live on Earth.

I have said it before, criminal charges should not be publicily known until they resolve. In fact, I don't think they should be known at all if the defendant is innocent.


The problem with that is that defendants are often *jailed*, and it's a big problem for people to be jailed in secret, much less jailed and tried.


I think the percentage of defendants remanded without bail is pretty small.

You could always compromise and say that if the crime warrants being remanded, you can publish the name.\

Edit: And in this case the guy was never even charged. Even if you held the name until charges were filed, it would be an improvement.


There are certainly times when this story is important: "Police arrested John Smith today for rape but were unable to charge him due to a technicality. He has been released and is back home. Yes, the John Smith who lives right next to you. Get out the mace, lady."

And the press is a pretty important check on abuses of the justice system; allowing parts of the criminal court process to be secret does not bode well for that watchdog function.
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby BlackSails » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:51 pm UTC

MrGee wrote:
The problem with that is that defendants are often *jailed*, and it's a big problem for people to be jailed in secret, much less jailed and tried.


I think the percentage of defendants remanded without bail is pretty small.


It is small, but I would wager that rapists are overrepresented in that group. Also, the money you have to post for bail is usually not a small amount, especially for serious crimes like rape. If you get bailed on $100,000 bond, you are going to have to pay a bondsman $10,000.
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby ianf » Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:53 pm UTC

Silas wrote:
Roĝer wrote:Isn't there already protection of the privacy of the accused? In the Netherlands the face of the accused nor his last name may be publicised, are there similar laws in the UK?

In the United States, at least, unless there's a specific gag order (which courts are very reluctant to use), you're allowed to publish anything that's true. Actual truth, or a reasonable belief in truth, is a virtually ironclad defense against slander and libel. And it was unmistakably true that Cummings was arrested on suspicion of this rape.

(UK slander and libel laws are actually very different from US laws, but I don't know enough about them to explain here)


In the UK, for adults, the accused can be named. So you can say things like "John Smith was arrested and charged with murder". Minors have the right to anonymity. In specific cases, anonymity of the accused can be put in place by the legal system. Usually (as far as I can recall) this is done to protect someone else (e.g. if someone rapes their daughter who is a minor, the anonymity for the accused would protect the daughter's identity).

This is all separate from slander/libel laws. That would be a different area. If the statement is provably true then it would not be libel. If you say that John Smith has been arrested for murder, that is factual and not libelous. If you say that John Smith is a murderer (when he's only been accused), then that would be libelous.

There is also the issue of contempt of court. If someone has been arrested for murder and you publish details which may affect the outcome of the trial, then even if they are not libelous you could still be in contempt of court.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby BlackSails » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:06 pm UTC

Also, lawyers can get in trouble for releasing information in an attempt to manipulate the jury pool.

(I think its just an ethics violation that gets handled by the bar association though, not an actual crime)

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby ianf » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:27 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:Also, lawyers can get in trouble for releasing information in an attempt to manipulate the jury pool.

(I think its just an ethics violation that gets handled by the bar association though, not an actual crime)


Also made more complicated because the UK has different legal systems in different countries. So, as I recall, a prosecutor in England can tell a jury about prior convictions to establish a defendant's bad character. But a prosecutor in Scotland cannot do this.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby BlackSails » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:57 am UTC

ianf wrote:
BlackSails wrote:Also, lawyers can get in trouble for releasing information in an attempt to manipulate the jury pool.

(I think its just an ethics violation that gets handled by the bar association though, not an actual crime)


Also made more complicated because the UK has different legal systems in different countries. So, as I recall, a prosecutor in England can tell a jury about prior convictions to establish a defendant's bad character. But a prosecutor in Scotland cannot do this.


In the US afaik, you can only reveal prior convinctions if they show moral turpitude. (ie, smashing a window isnt going to be allowed for witness impeachment, but fraud is)

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby PhoenixRider » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:17 am UTC

I don't agree with the 18 months but the justice system does need some patching up to do so they won't release names before conviction.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby BlackSails » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:20 am UTC

I know it seems a bit "eye for an eye" but what about making false reports carry the same penalty as the crime you are lying about?

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Aetius » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:22 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:I know it seems a bit "eye for an eye" but what about making false reports carry the same penalty as the crime you are lying about?


I think that would have a weird effect on people who fake their own deaths.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby BlackSails » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:27 am UTC

Aetius wrote:
BlackSails wrote:I know it seems a bit "eye for an eye" but what about making false reports carry the same penalty as the crime you are lying about?


I think that would have a weird effect on people who fake their own deaths.



I guess I phrased it wrong. Accusing someone of a crime in bad faith should net you the punishment they would have gotten. Filing a police report in bad faith should just be some minor fine or jail time. (ie, the difference between "someone outside is being beaten" and "that man raped me") One of them just wastes the time and resources of the police, the other has the potential to send someone to jail for a rather long time and ruin lives.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby PhoenixRider » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:30 am UTC

I'd say half the former suspect's sentence. Because in the end, 18 months is too small but a term of at least 8 years is an overkill.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby BlackSails » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:32 am UTC

PhoenixRider wrote:I'd say half the former suspect's sentence. Because in the end, 18 months is too small but a term of at least 8 years is an overkill.


Well, she could get paroled. And registration as a sex offender is a bit silly too.

But yeah, half the sentence seems reasonable.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Kyrn » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:45 am UTC

I think part of the issue is that people still haven't gotten the fact that accused != guilty. This is not helped by the media implicitly implying that accused = guilty (since otherwise, it isn't really much of a news report: technically anyone can be accused of anything). Or that records are kept on people who are accused (yet innocent).
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby JonoEPD » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:48 am UTC

Maybe we should have a law that if a prosecutor is found guilty of charging someone incorrectly with the knowledge that the defendant did not commit said crime, then the prosecutor should serve the sentence they tried to press on the innocent?

That would sure fix this bullshit.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Kyrn » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:29 am UTC

JonoEPD wrote:Maybe we should have a law that if a prosecutor is found guilty of charging someone incorrectly with the knowledge that the defendant did not commit said crime, then the prosecutor should serve the sentence they tried to press on the innocent?

That would sure fix this bullshit.

Jono


No it wouldn't. It would in fact, make it worse, seeing that often "facts" are not what it seems, and implanting obscene stakes would just drive lawyers away from the case. Or request equivalent monetary compensation of risks involved, which would limit lawyer selection.

(the point being that "knowledge" can be twisted to mean many things. What one might consider to be a clean alibi might not be seen equally by another, for instance)

[EDIT: This would also interfere with "innocent until proven guilty". Take for instance, a case where new knowledge seems to show the defendant is innocent. Should the prosecutor drop the case immediately? What would happen to the legislative procedures then? [/EDIT]
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby BlackSails » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:31 am UTC

Kyrn wrote:
No it wouldn't. It would in fact, make it worse, seeing that often "facts" are not what it seems, and implanting obscene stakes would just drive lawyers away from the case. Or request equivalent monetary compensation of risks involved, which would limit lawyer selection.


Prosecutors work for the government, they dont get hired by anyone.

And for a civil trial (where the lawyer is hired by a person), if the lawyer is filing frivolous lawsuits in bad faith he ought to have his law license yanked and pay the defendant's trial fees.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby JonoEPD » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:37 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:
Prosecuters work for the government, they dont get hired by anyone.


Kyrn wrote:
No it wouldn't. It would in fact, make it worse, seeing that often "facts" are not what it seems, and implanting obscene stakes would just drive lawyers away from the case. Or request equivalent monetary compensation of risks involved, which would limit lawyer selection.


Whoops, bad/horrible wording on my part. I mean that the people putting the defendant on trial (person claiming the crime was committed against them, etc.) should be subject to severe punishment if they're found to be blatantly lying about it. The actual lawyers, of course, should be free of repercussions in these scenarios, it's their responsibility to support the side they're getting payed to fight for.

"Facts" are not always "Facts" in the courtroom; but when the main accuser is proven to have blatantly lied and then personally confesses it, then their guilt is fairly well established. Then again, such strict punishment would probably dissuade a swift end to the case, as it's unlikely that a sane person would confess themselves into a decade's worth of prison.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Kyrn » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:44 am UTC

I admit I misunderstood legislative procedures. In that case, I do not see how it would affect the situation at all except in a small selection of cases.

Which would tie in to the next response..

I believe the term you are looking for is "plaintiff". However, there are several levels of "lying". Take for instance, a rape case. Sometimes, people would "lie" because of trauma and etc, protecting certain individuals, or exaggerating the situation. This does not mean that the rape case didn't occur. Your suggestion would also drive victims to not report, since often they would be questioning themselves to begin with, or that their relatives might have a vague idea but don't have all the information, etc.
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby BlackSails » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:50 am UTC

No, as long as the charge is in good faith, it would be fine.

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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby Malice » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:57 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:No, as long as the charge is in good faith, it would be fine.


Bad faith is usually going to be extremely hard to prove.
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby BlackSails » Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:02 am UTC

Malice wrote:
BlackSails wrote:No, as long as the charge is in good faith, it would be fine.


Bad faith is usually going to be extremely hard to prove.


Yup. Still happens though. Thats basically what anti-SLAPP laws are about.

JonoEPD
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Re: Woman jailed for making false claim of sexual assault

Postby JonoEPD » Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:04 am UTC

Malice wrote:
BlackSails wrote:No, as long as the charge is in good faith, it would be fine.


Bad faith is usually going to be extremely hard to prove.


It's still sufficient enough to scare off people who /know/ they're castrating an innocent victim.

Yeah, plantiff...that was the word I was looking for =P

Jono


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