Our previous post left off asking a criminal process question. If the supposed victim in a criminal assault case doesn’t want the case to continue, then why does a trial go on? The reality is that criminal charges such as assault result from a government investigation, not necessarily because a victim wants to take the fight to court.
The state might never have had anything to go on in the 2010 Baltimore assault case in order to charge the defendants if it weren’t for the teen’s police call, but he can’t take that decision back. It’s possible that the state’s case against the assault defendants could be weakened due to the teen’s feelings about the situation and his uncooperative testimony. But he can’t individually make the decision to completely squash the criminal process.
Civil cases are different because they are completely driven by victims. The teen’s mother actually has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the two men. Whether the teen wants that case to move forward is undisclosed. Based on his behavior in the criminal trial this week, however, it seems like the mother might not be able to count on her son’s testimony in the civil case, either.
The media and critics from the public are comparing this Baltimore assault case to the Trayvon Martin case because of its supposed racial motivations. Also, the defendants claim that they injured the teen out of self-defense, which is essentially the argument for the defendant in the Trayvon Martin case.
A criminal trial, especially one that attracts heavy media attention, can be stressful and overwhelming for anyone. Put the pressure of that on a teen and it is no surprise that he would just want it all to end. The goal now is that the court system keeps the best interest of justice in mind at all times, even if that means that no convictions will result from the case.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Alleged Werdesheim victim asks to drop charges,” Tricia Bishop, April 25, 2012
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