Perhaps it is my fault. Maybe I have been concentrating on tales of police investigations into crimes like murder, robbery and assault, that I have neglected to remind you that the “self-help” approach is seldom applauded in criminal justice.
I know that this may be counter-intuitive for many of you, but if an unknown gentleman climbs through your window at night and, after noticing you, suddenly freezes and says, “Oh [expletive]!”, you do not have the right to simply pick up your trusty bazooka and simply wipe him off the face of the Earth.
Let’s take a specific example. Jose C., a Lawrence gentleman (hereinafter, the “Defendant”), was leaving a friend’s house on Monday when he was accosted.
He was approached by two men with weapons who demanded that he give them money.
The Defendant explained that he had no money to give them.
The men apparently took the news in stride; they stole his car instead.
Apparently, the Defendant knew the men and where they lived.
Rather than disturb the police with his misfortunes, the Defendant allegedly elected to simply to go to their house and shoot one of them.
It was then that the police (as well as lawyers and judges) were brought into the situation.
The Defendant was held without bail after pleading not guilty to charges including assault with intent to murder. The unharmed brother, who is said to have returned fire, was held on $100,000 bail on firearms and theft charges. His brother, is recovering from his gunshot wounds. When he is all better, he will join his brother hand face similar charges. .
In criminal court, the only one who is allowed to claim vengeance is the Commonwealth.
Usually, these cases have to do with a confrontation and the chief issue is that of self-defense. However, in this case, the Defendant went to the men’s house. With his gun. After they had allegedly carjacked his car.
Self-defense could be a stretch here. However, it may not entirely be out of the question.
What if the Defendant always walks around with his gun, and does so legally? What if he simply went to the house to talk to the brothers, when they began the fireworks.
Of course, if he always walks around armed, why didn’t he use the gun at the carjacking?
The bottom line is that the Defendant should have walked over to the police department instead.
“So, what happens now, Sam? They all get convicted?”
It’s impossible to know at this point, of course. However, do not be surprised if all the charges end up being dismissed.
All three have a Fifth Amendment right not to testify if doing so might incriminate them. None of them are likely to be able to testify to relevant facts without incriminating themselves, or, at least, opening the door to doing so.
So, unless the Commonwealth decides to give somebody immunity from prosecution, this explosive event is likely to go out as a fizzle.
That is, assuming the attorneys involved realize this issue.
Should you wish to discuss such a criminal matter with me, please feel free to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.
For the original story upon which today’s blog is based, please go to http://mobile.boston.com/art/30/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/10/27/man_charged_with_shooting_alleged_thief/