The following scenarios illustrate just some of the ways that an accused, witness or victim may act in the context of the criminal justice system.
With a warrant out for his arrest, A. turned himself in to the police. He called his lawyer, who of course advised him to say nothing until the lawyer arrived. By the time the lawyer got there, A. had provided a video statement.
(A. wanted to be helpful and had no sense of the need to listen to and follow his lawyer's advice.)
B. came to his court date for an assault charge and suddenly decided to plead guilty. His lawyer explained that he had a good chance of being found not guilty at trial, and advised him, strongly, against pleading. B insisted. When asked by the judge if he had anything to say before sentencing, B gave a long, rambling explanation of why he was innocent.
(He couldn't handle the suspense of waiting any longer and didn't understand the court process.)
C. was a defence witness. On the stand, the defence lawyer gently tried to ask her questions that would help C. present helpful facts. Although the questions were basic, C. found them difficult and reacted with hostility to the lawyer.
(She knew the lawyer was defending her friend, but did not understand his role or his questions.)
C. also asked the judge to stop people in the court from speaking to each other.
(The people were her family members, there to help. However, she had difficulty concentrating on the questions because of all of the ambient noise.)
D., a young adult, was arrested for shoplifting a CD. He was given a notice to appear in court but put it aside and forgot. He did not remember to tell his parents, with whom he resides. Now there is a bench warrant for his arrest and he has a much bigger problem.
(D. has very poor memory, no system of recording dates and times, and had no understanding of how important it was to come to court. He is a large, normal-looking man who functions like a child.)
E., a youth, was arrested after some property was mysteriously damaged. He was granted bail, but his conditions required him to live at home and follow a curfew. His parents were very worried when he did not come home one day ... or the next. He appeared on the third day, surprised that his parents were in a state of anxiety and had pulled his bail. His friend had invited him on an impromptu trip, so he went.
(His memory and understanding are limited, so he had forgotten his bail conditions and it had not occurred to him to contact his parents.)