The boy, age 15, was arrested on May 22, the day after the girl talked to the police. Two other boys, each age 17, were arrested on July 26 and 27.
The 15-year-old was charged with four counts of aggravated sexual intercourse with a person aged 14-16. Charges against the older boys included detaining someone to take advantage, aggravated sexual assault in company, and aggravated indecent assault in company.
One hopes all these young men are properly given the opportunity to obtain and heed legal advice from a competent lawyer.
The laws in relation to what perhaps may be relevant issues here have evolved to assist the prosecution to prove cases where there are allegations of sexual assault even when a person does not possess a guilty mind and in fact may very well be innocent. This is why it is vital that innocent persons exercise their right to silence when allegations like this are levelled at them. The plethora of Legal definitions relevant (such as consent) and the complexity of the definitions are difficult for the average person to interpret, but more to the point the failure of an accused to properly articulate ones state of mind or their actions could easily see offences proved against the innocent person.
As an example ! Say one of the boys charged was told by another person present that the victim was consenting to the interaction and that he not only believed this, but from observations he made he formed a consistent belief that the victim was at least 16 years of age or over and was consenting.
Let’s say he consents to an interview because some helpful, but ignorant person says, “If your innocent you’ll have nothing to hide”. He is then interviewed and in his nervous state at having assertions of serious criminal facts levelled at him he reflects back and fails to adequately express his statemof mind and or his actions and observations.
The right to silence was never introduced to the Common Law to protect guilty people. It is a necessary protection for innocent persons whom it has been alleged have committed crimes that are complex to understand. The very complex issue of the requirement of mens rea (guilty mind) has also been eroded by the introduction of Laws that introduce concepts such as presumptions of mens rea where a person is reckless. We also have ever expanding Laws with Strict or absolute liability applications.
Our Justice system should not continue to see the erosion of the right to silence. In fact the right to silence should be sacrosanct. Some members of Government and the public no doubt think that the right to silence assists guilty people to avoid liability. Perhaps it does ! However, personally there is nothing more upsetting than observing the life of an innocent person changed forever because they articulated a state of mind in less than reliable terms, or described their actions taken in less than demonstratively descriptive terms and are convicted.
The Community should be concerned when a guilty person escapes a finding of guilt because the prosecution have failed to prove their case. However, they should be more concerned at the thought of an innocent person being found guilty. I am not saying at all that I like the thought of the guilty being let off. I don’t ! I simply believe in a justice system that protects the innocent from beginning to end, and a huge part of this protection is underpinned by the right to silence.
We recommend that in all instances you use an experience criminal law lawyer. Remember, it is not simply about what a lawyer can say for you that is important. It is the fact that the lawyer will also know what not to say and how to say what should be said.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.