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View Diary: AL lesbian viciously beaten by girlfriend's brother in horrific Thanksgiving Day hate crime (238 comments)

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  •  Well, a couple things... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, terrypinder, lostboyjim

    First, see my reply to 4th of July below for my rant about pressing charges.  In short, victims are not a party to a criminal trial and they do not "file" or "press charges" - the victim is as much of an observer as is any other witness.

    Speaking generically, when you file a police report, you sign it to essentially say, "Yes, this is my report, it's true as I remember and understand."  Next to this signature, it's common for a police report to include a checkbox next to it reading something along the lines of "Are you willing to appear in court on this incident report?  Check yes or no." or something to that effect.  The wording varies greatly and of course not all LEOs use it but this is, in smaller crimes, the initial signal as to whether or not the state should bother to file at all.  Here, in all likelihood the decision to file is out of the victim's hands, although of course the state will need her testimony regardless.

    As a lot of people on this thread have described, the initial charges serve as a placeholder - it is usually the lowest felony that the DA, with the enormously limited amount of information on hand that morning, feels that they can prove, and the purpose is to keep the defendant subject to a bail or bond and to get pre-trial services on board.  At any time prior to trial - or more specifically, "jeopardy attaching" - this is changeable.  That usually happens at the start of the actual trial, generally when either the jury impaneled and sworn in or, in a bench trial (judge-only) the first witness is sworn in.  Until then, they can dismiss, re-file and amend to their heart's content.

    As to your question about statutes of limitations, most serious felonies have a very long statute of limitations - years to indefinite.  So there is absolutely no reason to fear that this is the only or most serious charge out there, it's just what the DA felt that s/he could assure a judge of for a hearing that would likely be held that day or the next day.

    "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

    by auron renouille on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:18:57 PM PST

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