Ramblings of the Pueblo Native

News and views on the 719 set.

Unfortunately?

Can Prosecutors Charge Calif. Gange Rape Witnesses for Doing Nothing? – ABC News

California is one of the few states that has a law on its books in which witnesses are required to report a sex crime against a minor or risk prosecution. However, the law, which was passed in 2000 and named for 7-year-old victim Sherrice Iverson, applies only to minor children younger than 14 years of age.

“Unfortunately California law does not allow you to arrest a person for witnessing a sex crime if the victim is over the age of 14,” Lt. Mark Gagan of the Richmond Police Department told ABC News KGO-TV.

I have to go with what Penn said on a video blog (and I’ll have to research this one to get the link): if somebody says “there otta be a law, usually there shouldn’t.” And this applies doubly here.

Let’s get this out of the way: the people that stood out there and watched this and did nothing have nothing to be proud of. I may not want them to go to jail, but that doesn’t make them good people. Far from it. A good person would have at least called to make the report. So they are not good people, at least in that particular incident.

But not being a good Samaritan should not be grounds for jail time, nor should it be a requirement that citizens make the police’s job easier by coming forward. And attaching a jail sentence wouldn’t do any wonders. In fact, it would create a 5th Amendment situation. Say somebody didn’t want to say anything at the time, but later built up the courage to do the right thing. By doing that, they would be admitting that they violated the law and becoming a witness against themselves.

Plus there is an alternative scenario. I hate to break it to you, but child predators sometimes mix in a bad crowd. I know, it’s shocking. If somebody happened to be doing something unseemly themselves (say drugs or whatnot), they are in a classic Catch 22. Don’t report it and run afoul of the law. Do report it and they incriminate themselves. I’m only surprised that this law hasn’t been struck down as unconstitutional.

November 18, 2009 Posted by | California, witnesses | Leave a comment