Jul 13, 2008

Guilt & Innocence in The Criminal Legal System

ST July 12, 2008
Judge: No question of 'factual guilt' after acquittal
Justice V.K. Rajah takes issue with Govt's position on guilt and innocence
By K. C. Vijayan

A HIGH Court judge has taken issue with the Government's position that people acquitted of crimes may not necessarily be innocent.

Judge of Appeal V.K. Rajah said it was a cornerstone of the justice system that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and it was for prosecutors to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

He said: 'If the evidence is insufficient to support the prosecution's theory of guilt, and if the weaknesses in the prosecution's case reveal a deficiency in what is necessary for a conviction, the judge must acquit the accused and with good reason: it simply has not been proved to the satisfaction of the law that the accused is guilty, and the presumption of innocence stands unrebutted.

'It is not helpful, therefore, for suggestions to be subsequently raised about the accused's 'factual guilt' once he has been acquitted.'

To do so, he added, would be to undermine the court's not-guilty finding. It would also 'stand the presumption of innocence on its head, replacing it with an insidious and open-ended suspicion of guilt that an accused person would be hard-pressed to ever shed, even upon vindication in a court of law.'

His remarks on acquittal, innocence and guilt came near the end of his written judgment explaining why he acquitted former teacher William Ding, 36, of molesting several schoolboys.

While he did not say so, his comments appear directed at the position taken by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) in The Straits Times on May 8 and May 14.

The AGC was quoted in the first article as saying that a judge was bound by law to acquit a person if the prosecution could not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
'This means that if there is any reasonable doubt, the accused gets the benefit of it. It does not mean that the accused was innocent in the sense that he did not do the deed,' its spokesman said.

The AGC later wrote to the Forum Page and said that the nuance of an acquittal was often not clearly appreciated by the public.

'(The accused person) may be guilty in fact, but innocent in law because the evidence was not there,' its spokesman said.

That position took many, including lawyers, by surprise. Lawyer N. Sreenivasan wrote to the Forum Page saying such a view was of 'grave concern'.

'If the prosecution, with the full resources of the police, the power to interrogate accused persons, interview witnesses, seize evidence and rely on various presumptions, cannot prove a case beyond reasonable doubt, then the prosecution should not cast any cloud on the acquittal of the accused,' said Mr Sreenivasan.

Ahh, this brings back memories. Once upon a time, I was a Deputy Public Prosecutor, so I'm well-acquainted with the matters discussed above. Let me explain the issues with a simple, narrative example.

Suppose an old woman, Mrs Lee, is walking down a quiet street late at night. Suddenly, Ah Beng comes up from behind and tries to snatch her gold chain. Mrs Lee screams for help. Luckily, two passers-by are nearby.

Kumar, a foreign construction worker, shouts loudly at Ah Beng who gets frightened and decides to run away. George, a big burly tourist from Canada, chases after Ah Beng and manages to catch him. Mrs Lee quickly dials 999, and two police officers arrive in five minutes.

Ah Beng is charged with attempted robbery. This looks like a very simple, clear-cut case, the kind that would be assigned to a newbie DPP, just for his very first solo court trial.

However, in the months between the offence and the actual trial, a few things happen.

Mrs Lee has a stroke. She becomes paralysed, and unable to speak properly.

Kumar gets sacked by his boss in Singapore and goes back to his little village in rural India where he will raise chickens for a living. The entire village has only one telephone, which usually does not work. Kumar is no longer contactable.

George's holiday comes to an end and he flies home to Canada. The police can contact him, but he's very busy with his family and career. "Will you fly back and testify in the trial in September?" asks the police.

"Don't be ridiculous," says George, "I already did you a big favour in catching the guy, the rest is up to you." And he promptly hangs up the phone.

At the trial, the judge finds Mrs Lee to be an unreliable witness because the judge cannot understand her slurred speech. Now paralysed, Mrs Lee cannot even hold a pen and write out her responses.

No evidence is available from Kumar, because the legal rules of evidence would require him to be physically present in court, to tell the judge what happened. And Kumar is just not there.

For the same reason, no evidence is available from George

The prosecution's only admissible evidence comes from the two police officers who had arrived on the scene that night, to see Mrs Lee, Ah Beng, Kumar and George.

Ah Beng's defence was that he was in a big hurry that night to meet his girlfriend. He was running down the dark street and accidentally bumped into an old woman, who thought he was trying to rob her.

Ah Beng further claims that George and Kumar arrived on the scene only a few minutes later, while Ah Beng was still trying to explain to Mrs Lee that he wasn't a robber. George and Kumar misunderstood the situation and pounced on him.

Mrs Lee cannot rebut this, because she cannot talk. George and Kumar cannot rebut this either, since they are not present in court.

(Correctly) presuming Ah Beng to be innocent, and (correctly) assessing the evidence available to him, the judge (correctly) declares that the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Ah Beng is acquitted. He happily walks out of court a free man.

Ah Beng had 2 previous convictions for robbery, and in each case the modus operandus was similar - both his earlier victims were women walking alone in quiet streets at night. This was another fact which the rules of evidence forbade the prosecution from telling the judge, during the trial.

************

The general idea goes like this. A crime happens, and the investigation process yields a lot of evidence that X did it. However, for technical or logistics reasons, some of the evidence cannot be presented in court to the judge, or has to be presented in some greatly reduced form.

Based on the evidence actually available to him, the judge then proceeds to acquit X of the offence.

I do agree with VK Rajah that it is unhelpful for the prosecution to raise suggestions about the accused's factual guilt after he has been acquitted. It simply isn't very constructive.

The only purpose it serves is to defend the AGC's own public image - vis a viz the public's comments like "Oh, how could AGC even have charged this poor innocent person in the first place" etc.

Well, perhaps image defence was all that Walter Woon wanted to do, in this particular case. But from this perspective, VK Rajah's statement is also in the interests of defending the image - of the courts.

Clearly it isn't very good for the courts' reputation if the general public starts believing that a man isn't necessarily innocent just because the judge says so, or that a man isn't necessarily guilty just because the judge says so. Then people will start saying, "Well, what is the use of having judges then?"

The heart of the matter, the real essence, is something a bit too subtle for the man in the street. In the end, we just have to accept that the criminal legal system is imperfect. Criminal law is simply not a maths question capable of exact solutions.

Some factually guilty persons may be found legally innocent. Some factually innocent persons may be found legally guilty. Real life is too complicated for such things to never happen. The system has to constantly work towards minimising such risks and occurrences, that is all.

How good a job is the system currently doing? That's another kind of question. I shall not comment, since I've left that particular system behind me. Nowadays my legal playground is the financial derivatives industry across Asia.

42 comments:

Mr Wang Says So said...

Hello, folks. I put some effort into writing this article. So if you enjoyed reading it, please take a moment to vote for me in the Singapore Blog Award.

Mr Wang Says So said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mercia said...

Mr Woon seems to have this inability to handle the media. It's odd the AG can't stay his tongue. He's set a pretty precedence for himself by being in a defensive position with his comments on human rights, etc.

He's been doing a good job of hurting his public image. ... well, at least I don't think much of him after hearing what he's been going on about. Wish we had more Ong Teng Cheongs in the public sector.

Onlooker said...

For the hypothetical Mrs Lee case.
Since this is Singapore,With such concentrated population, someone else (STomp syndrome) must have saw something (ie evidence gathering not done thoroughly).But let's just assume that no one else saw it (it happen near some cemetery).
Kumar is in his village, But since Canadian George have the cash to tour Singapore so he could have a computer?or his govenrment have one?(ie video conferencing? we do have a high tech court you know).Or did canada throttle the internet too much?
Summary:- lack of effort to establish the case.
PS :- remind me of NKF TT Durai's 3 mth sentence for his white collar crime.
OMG that why IBA made those recommendations.
Someone could have spoken publicly at speaker corner that "Defamation suits have harsher penalty than say giving kickbacks to a designer friend (corruption suit)".
Uniquely Singapore ,no?

jon said...

Mr Wang, nice write-up!! Statistics has a similar concept - the inability to reject the null hypothesis (H0) does not mean that H0 is correct. It just means that there is insufficient evidence to reject H0 (in this case, it means there is not enough evidence to prove that one is guilty).

Anonymous said...

On evidence to prove innocence or guilt, things can be scary when it concerns serious crimes like murder, rape, or drug trafficking. Any possibility of lack of evidence resulting in guilty being declared innocent or vice versa? For instance there can also be the use of circumstantial, not direct, evidence to prove guilt. There was this case in the 60s where a man was convicted and hanged for murder although the body was never found. And for rape cases, the man may be at a disadvantage when he cannot get evidence of consensual sex.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere along the way LKY tossed out the jury, claiming it is unreliable.

As Mr Wang has pointed out criminal cases may be not straight forward, thus the jury's unreliability may then be a strength to cover the grey areas.

Would it be better to bring back the jury?

Anonymous said...

and that is the way, Singapore is run. 20 odd years and Chia Thye poh never admitted to being a communist,. Was he a factual communist, or just jailed cos LKY like his son, needed to 'fix' the opposition of the day??
And that is why I am uncomfortable with ISA - how many muslims in ISA now (out of 20 plus) are factually part of JI - and how many are not?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Here are actual examples that I have personally come across, or which I know my DPP colleagues had come across. You get what looks like a very straightforward, clear-cut case, and you're very sure who's factually guilty, and then:

1. The witness, an illegal worker, is accidentally repatriated by MOM before he can testify in court against his illegal employer.

2. The witness is a foreigner and leaves the country and cannot be contacted anymore.

3. Woman makes police report that someone has stolen her ATM card and withdrawn all her money. Subsequent police investigations reveal that in fact, it was her own son who stole it (this is shown on the ATM's CCTV). Woman changes her mind and refuses to testify against her own son.

4. X gives a bribe to Y. Someone gives a tip-off to CPIB. X is charged with giving a bribe. Y refuses to give proper testimony against X, because X and Y actually are on good terms. In court, Y suddenly alters testimony, saying, for example, that the money was just a personal & private loan between X and Y.

5. Husband beats wife. Wife makes a police report, then subsequently changes mind about testifying against her husband. She is afraid that if husband goes to jail, the family will have no more money to raise the kids.

6. Woman is molested. Initially she makes police report. Subsequently she feels too ashamed and embarrassed and refuses to proceed with the matter.

7. The witness is a very young child (eg 4 years old); or a poor, lowly-educated person (eg Indonesian maid). If you talk to her patiently and nicely in the police station or the DPP's office, she is able to give a clear, concise account of what happened. But in the courtroom, she gets very nervous, frightened and confused and cannot answer questions properly.

---- ----

Some of these cases will never make it to the courtroom at all (DPP just drops the case, because the assessment is that (1) the guy is factually guilty, but (2) there is no chance of conviction).

Other cases will still make it to the courtroom, because there is enough other evidence for the DPP to give the case a shot.

-----

Here's an old post where I discussed a case I handled as DPP. An excerpt:

"I still remember a tricky little case I handled, about a Filipino maid who abused a one-year-old baby by burning her with an iron. The only other person present in the home then was the older girl, who was only three or four years old. The baby was of course too young to testify in court, and so the key witness was the three-year-old girl. Young children are difficult witnesses to handle because firstly, they obviously are not as articulate as adults, and secondly, they may not really understand what's happening.

Anyway, as usual, I told this little girl before the trial that she must always, always tell the truth in court. And her parents told her, "Yes, yes, listen to Uncle. You must always, always tell the truth in court."

As it turned out, the case was rather tense. Not least because the Philippine Embassy sent two officials to monitor the case. The promptly spent the next two days sitting in court glaring at me, recording my questions and giving me the evil eye. Meanwhile, the ST journalist flitted in and out of the courtroom, hoping against hope for something to blow up and perhaps lead to an international diplomatic row that she could get the scoop on ...."


For the rest of the story, click here.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Chia Thye Poh, ISA etc does not involve judges/DPPs at all.

geriatric_eunuch said...

I certainly hope Judge of Appeal V.K. Rajah did not say as reported, 'presumed innocent until proven guilty'.

'Innocent until proven guilty' presupposes guilt.

It's 'Innocent UNLESS proven guilty'.

That's a nuance which no judge ought to be careless about.

Given the S'pore judiciary's somewhat unfortunate reputation for, erm, being economical with the highest standards of justice when certain personalities are involved (see recent IBA report), I wonder if His Honour is in fact rather more worried that if the notion of 'factual guilt' were to become commonplace, then its corollary 'factual innocence' might also become similarly recognised.

It would be highly embarrassing, even damaging, to the court's reputation for the perception to become admissible that a factually innocent party could be found guilty in practice owing to improper pressure being put upon the bench, would it not?

That's hypothetical and tantamount to injustice of course. It could never happen here.

Jonathan Wong said...

I think most folks can accept the fact the the justice system (in Singapore or otherwise) is imperfect and guilty people sometimes get acquitted just like innocent people sometimes get convicted.

However, the important thing is that the justice system must portray an image that it is fair, and anyone who steps into the court room will always get a fighting chance at a fair trial and be acquitted if one is indeed innocent.

However, I'm not sure if the recent high-profile civil cases, especially those that involve high-ranking Singaporean officials, portray that image to the general public anymore.

What if one day, you have a high-profile criminal case that involves a high-ranking Singaporean minister? Will the public have confidence that the trial will be fair and just? Or (more likely) perhaps the trial will never make it to court?

I think having a fair justice system (or at least the perception of one) is what's important for the people. The rest of the back and forth between AGC and V.K. Rajah is merely academic.

Anonymous said...

Yes - ISA do not include judges / DPP>

And a person can get jailed for 20+ years, removed from Sentosa, and the national newspapers still do not give any recognition of his plight!
Hail LKY and his PAP. They fixed it!

Anonymous said...

mr wang,


I would like to bring to your attention the court case of an indian national who raped his daughter in law.

Apperently both dauther-in-law and his wife went back to india before the case started.

It was speculated that the accused had told his wife that he "would be her slave for life" if she and her daughter did not testify against him.

what did the authorities do?

Well they used his own testimony and that of the police officer who recorded them against him!

My point is, in singapore, if they're out to get you, they will.

Anonymous said...

Thereby hangs another question: why bring the matter to court at all if the prosecution is already convinced that the person is guilty. Would that not be a waste of public funds then? Better to lock the fellow up without hesitation and throw the keys away. Of course there is always the possibility that the person on trial could have fooled all and sundry including the judge (and jury, where applicable). But so be it, the aim of the law is to protect the innocent not just to punish the guilty. By the way in the not too distant past, Singapore had a law under section 55 which allowed for detention without trial. Perhaps some pined with nostalgia for this insrument?

Anonymous said...

voted :)

hmm said...

"Some factually innocent persons may be found legally guilty."

Just like how they hanged that Nigerian for drug trafficking though he might be factually innocent?

Anonymous said...

Case of Ah Beng: the fault lies with the prosecution! Bcos why did it take so long for the trial to take place? The prosecution or police when they have the witnesses shld have done their homework to know whether their witnesses are available or not.

so it isnt the imperfection of the law, it is the failings of the prosecution... complacent & not gilat enough!


recruit ong

Anonymous said...

"What if one day, you have a high-profile criminal case that involves a high-ranking Singaporean minister? Will the public have confidence that the trial will be fair and just? Or (more likely) perhaps the trial will never make it to court?"

My impression is that it would be depend on whether the accused is no longer in the good books of whoever is in charge or whether it will cause irrepairable damage to PAP.

I'll bet my last dollar that if it is the former, more shit will be thrown at the accused but if it is the latter, all shit and even the smell will be covered up.

Anonymous said...

On a sidetrack, I do admire some of V.K Rajah's criminal law judgments, especially the one where he questioned the integrity of the prosecution in the PSA drug trafficking case that led to the acquittal of the accused after 7 - 8 yrs on the hook.

Unlike many people, he seems to be a rather fair minded person who takes a more realistic view on the competency of our "home team". In view of recent events, I hope more people will be disabused of their illusions.

Am I right, ISD? (I'm sure you're reading, don't pretend...)

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Case of Ah Beng: the fault lies with the prosecution! Bcos why did it take so long for the trial to take place? The prosecution or police when they have the witnesses shld have done their homework to know whether their witnesses are available or not.

so it isnt the imperfection of the law, it is the failings of the prosecution... complacent & not gilat enough!"

---

It's hardly as simple as you think. A judge isn't available 24/7 to hear a trial as soon as you want to hear a trial, for instance. Time also needs to be given to the defence lawyers - they will apply for time to advise their client; write letters of representation to the AGC; prepare their own case. Also, workload for the police officers may be high. Accused may often also apply for adjournments eg on medical grounds, or to consider whether they wish to claim trial or plead guilty, or to get themselves a lawyer. Etc etc.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Well they used his own testimony and that of the police officer who recorded them against him!"

This is correct. An accused's statement (confession) can be used against him.

However, in general, other witnesses must appear personally in court to testify before the judge, and offer themselves for cross-examination by the other side.

The special exception for confessions arises from the idea that innocent persons would not say false things against themselves. Eg if a dead person is found in my house with a stab wound in the chest and I say, "I killed him, this is my knife,", this is, at the very least, quite compelling evidence.

Of course, confessions give rise to another area of criminal law which is perennially challenging. An accused person will often go to court and when his police confession is shown to the judge, he will then often claim that:

(a) he had been forced or tricked into making the confession;

(b) the police officer misunderstood what he had said and recorded it wrongly

(c) he was confused and not thinking clearly when he made his confession;

This leads to what is known as a "voir dire" or "trial within a trial". This is a mini-trial held to examine whether the confession itself was properly taken and recorded. If not, it will considered inadmissible and rejected as evidence.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"What if one day, you have a high-profile criminal case that involves a high-ranking Singaporean minister?"

Oh, based on existing precedent (Teh Cheang Wan), he would probably kill himself first.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"However, in general, other witnesses must appear personally in court to testify before the judge, and offer themselves for cross-examination by the other side."

---

Just to add that this is a general rule applicable to both civil and criminal trials, and to witnesses for both plaintiff / defendant, as well as prosecution / defence.

So for instance let's say that your defence is that you could not have possibly committed a certain robbery because at that time, you were in fact far away in your mother's house having dinner with her, then your mother has to come to court to testify. It is not sufficient for you to produce a letter or note from your mother which says, "Dear Judge, yes, on that night, I was having dinner with my son in my house in Pasir Panjang, far away from the scene of the crime. Signed, Mummy."

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang. Good of you to put this important issue on your blog and one more reason to vote for you. As the serial blunders by MOH has demonstrated, government is not fail safe. This makes it all the more necessary for all stake holders (citizens) to be aware and to scrutinize issues of consequence. How do countries get to a lamentable state where citizens are powerless to look after their interests? Not through a sudden cataclysmic event but through slow and gradual erosion of civil liberties and awareness.

Anonymous said...

How about my case then... unprovoked assault in a 7/11 by man who wanted to beat up the cashier. caught on cctv, verified by cashier and security guards who had to pull assailant off.

police reaction after numerous emails, will not pursue case, magistrate was most apologetic in asying he dont know what the police is doing.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Yes I hear of such instances quite often, and in fact my mother has experienced police non-action as well (when she was the victim of a crime).

As DPP, I saw only the cases where the police actually did something, so I don't really know how many cases there are, where the police does nothing.

From anecdotal evidence, it seems this is fairly frequent. My guess is that the police force are understaffed, overworked or inefficiently deployed. Perhaps too many police officers are devoted to doing silly things like harassing joggers out for a peaceful run on a Saturday morning, instead of investigating real crimes.

lobo said...

1. The witness, an illegal worker, is accidentally repatriated by MOM before he can testify in court against his illegal employer.

>> as mentioned in one of the articles in TOC, the various departments do not seem to communicate well with one another (reference to Police impound passport and ICA give new passport case)

2. The witness is a foreigner and leaves the country and cannot be contacted anymore.

>> should such cases be expedited? given more priority? A written statement by taken down before he leaves?

3. Woman makes police report that someone has stolen her ATM card and withdrawn all her money. Subsequent police investigations reveal that in fact, it was her own son who stole it (this is shown on the ATM's CCTV). Woman changes her mind and refuses to testify against her own son.

>> well.. nothing to say for this case.

4. X gives a bribe to Y. Someone gives a tip-off to CPIB. X is charged with giving a bribe. Y refuses to give proper testimony against X, because X and Y actually are on good terms. In court, Y suddenly alters testimony, saying, for example, that the money was just a personal & private loan between X and Y.

>> I am somewhat surprised tat more investigation wasn't done prior to charging X and Y. The charge was solely done from a 'tip-off'?

5. Husband beats wife. Wife makes a police report, then subsequently changes mind about testifying against her husband. She is afraid that if husband goes to jail, the family will have no more money to raise the kids.

>> Problem is society doesn't provide welfare net. Law is wrong, but reality dictates otherwise.

6. Woman is molested. Initially she makes police report. Subsequently she feels too ashamed and embarrassed and refuses to proceed with the matter.

>> On the other hand, nothing to protect the alleged molester. He's guilty (and sometimes bankrupted) even after proven innocent. Not sure what there is to do with regards to such cases. If our Law society is more powerful, maybe they can suggest some changes... but Law ministry just said that they no need such a power.

7. The witness is a very young child (eg 4 years old); or a poor, lowly-educated person (eg Indonesian maid). If you talk to her patiently and nicely in the police station or the DPP's office, she is able to give a clear, concise account of what happened. But in the courtroom, she gets very nervous, frightened and confused and cannot answer questions properly.

>> Can the cross examination be done in a less stressful environment? separate room with live feed, etc?

Mr Wang Says So said...

2. Written statement can be taken. However, it cannot be used in court. The rule is that the witness must appear personally in court.

You cannot compel a foreign witness to stay, if he does not want to, and if he himself is not a crime suspect. It would be a breach of international law to compel him to remain in Singapore against his wishes.

4. No, I mean that the investigation begins with a tip-off. Of course there will be further investigation, before charging.

7. It can be done that way nowadays. However, stress is inherent in trials, due to the cross-examination. Davinder Singh can make educated, grown men cry in court, just by asking questions. What do you think a good defence counsel might do to a young kid who just learned to speak in complete sentences, two years earlier?

Mercia said...

"Oh, based on existing precedent (Teh Cheang Wan), he would probably kill himself first."

Aheheh. I was going to say just that. Say what you want about the cabinet, but they're paid enough to ensure they won't stray towards anything criminal.

At best we'll get junior officers involved in bribing scandals, and no one's going to bother with the "little people". Heck, I'd argue that salaries for even junior officials should be raised to avoid corruption across the full civil service spectrum.

Note: I don't pay local taxes and I'm not based in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

The Law must serve justice and if justice is not seen to be fulfilled, then the integrities of the Law Enforcers become doubtful.

patriot.

Anonymous said...

In this land, some scholar who pushed his gf down MRT track with an intend to kill her gets only 1 yr. And a mentally unstabled and unfit NS boy get 9 yrs 18 canes, and he have not done anything yet.

The reason given, a deterence sentence. Well, pushing people down MRT do not need deterence sentence?

Or, elite dun take MRT so the need of deterence is lesser?

Luther

Anonymous said...

Davinder Singh can make educated, grown men cry in court, just by asking questions.
................................
here is one counter-measure against Davinder ...

start crying before he even start to ask you anything.

or start crying everytime he opens his mouth.

hehe

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, people who go against law are righteous. And people who prosecute the law are not. Things are not that clear cut all the type. And sometimes, those who leave are the patriotic one who has given up, aka the Gopalan Nair type. At least, I think that's what this NDP music video is trying to say.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

You forgot one more scenario.

A person could be NOT guilty (or innocent) but decide plead guilty to avoid harsher sentences, or can't stand (hypothetical) police harassment, or because they were badly advised by their lawyer!

Anonymous said...

Does cases like the one you described very often?

Singapore police is very good at getting confession from suspects. At one time I read a case where the suspects was in Malaysia when the crime was committed but he still confessed to the crime. Are confessions formed a high rate of conviction?

Anonymous said...

one qn: in a "state vs defendant" kind of case, does the defendant have to pay money if he/she wins?

Anonymous said...

A few years ago(2002), I was the victim of an unsuccessful abduction. After a scuffle, I managed to escape with bleeding wounds and muddy prints all over my clothes and my arms.

It was 1 am at night and my parents and I went to make a police report. I was asked to repeat my story multiple times to the police detectives, who basically told me that it was impossible to catch the assailant (and hey! there were witnesses ...), but would I want to go for a physical examination so as to obtain a doctor's report for the case. It was 3 am by then, and I did not want to wait at the hospital A&E, so I opted to go to my company doctor who wanted to charge me $300 for filling in the report. I may have remembered wrongly, but I was under the impression that I was expected to pay for the medical report required by the police even if I had gone to the A&E. Is there something wrong with the system that you need to pay to finish filing a police report? By the way, the $300 does not include actual treatment expenses paid to the doctors and dentists I had to consult.

2 years later(2004), my parents received a call from the police for me to identify a suspect, it seems that someone else was assaulted again. I was in the US at that time, and due to insufficient resources, was not able to fly back immediately. The funny thing is that I never heard from them after this for other options, eg video-conferencing, wait a couple of months etc ...

I am just curious whether the system is really that inefficient that they can't and don't take criminal cases seriously and that victims are expected to fork out time and money ...

Mr Wang Says So said...

Yes, that's what many people don't realise.

BEFORE a crime happens, the system is focused on crime prevention.

AFTER a crime happens, the system is focused on identifying the criminal and dealing with him.

The system is relatively uninterested in helping the victim of the crime.

Mr Wang Says So said...

" Are confessions formed a high rate of conviction?"

Well, the thing is, in the usual case that goes to trial, there is are usually other big pieces of evidence apart from the confession.

For example, X shoplifts and is caught and he confesses. Apart from his confession, there could be other evidence such as the security guard's testimony; the recovered stolen item actually retrieved from the X; other eye witnesses; maybe a CCTV recording.

Anonymous said...

The gay jog was obviously for a politicised agenda since the joggers were all wearing a common t-shirt loudly proclaiming their cause . And with so many publicity involved...it is not longer just "a peaceful run" as you claimed.

However I agree that the difference stances taken by the Court and AGC is making a clown out of the whole legal system.Public who are not familiar with the workings of investigation, prosecution would be wondering why the DPPs and investigators cant get their acts together before they prosecute a supposed innocent guy in court.

stephen said...

What if related crimes by witnesses are exposed during trial? Would it render the witnesses irrelevant? Will their crimes be pursued? I appreciate no system is perfect but its still a disturbing thought to know.