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Recent Release of New York Police Officer Highlights Difference between Criminal Intent and Fantasy

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin criminal justice systemSome cases are black and white, with a clear line between right and wrong. Other times, the facts are more obscure, hazy, even gray. Case in point: the recent release of a New York police officer who was recently acquitted of all criminal charges after a jury convicted him of plotting to kill and eat women.

Fetishes and the Internet

Fetishes are not always taboo subjects or acts of a violent nature, but sometimes they are. Discussions about them can be found online in chat rooms or fanfiction sites. As with many topics on the internet, no fetish is too grotesque, too violent, or too disturbing. Often, it is a manifestation of fantasy — acts that the writers and readers would never actually commit that leads to criminal charges. But, because of other evidence, investigators believed it was possible the New York officer just might commit the acts he discussed on the internet.

The Fine Line between Fantasy and Intent

Originally, the officer was charged because prosecutors said he had taken concrete steps to put his plans into action. He allegedly used the police database to look up information about women, and had allegedly researched recipes for chloroform. But even if he had done those things, did that necessarily prove intent to commit a crime?

While the first jury believed that, yes, it did, an Appellate Court said the evidence failed to prove intent. The Appellate Court ruled that the officer was wrongly convicted for mere fantasies and for allegedly pretending to commit a crime, citing that the law cannot criminalize thoughts. Only actions.

Putting It in Context

Many people  occasionally  say things they do not mean. In the context of the New York officer’s charges, expressions like, “I could kill my boss/child/husband” could be misconstrued and treated as intended violent crimes. Of course, most people know these expressions are just words; however, in  context where the words are gruesome, detailed, or frightening, the intention may not be as clear. Regardless, it is important to understand that, while your thoughts do have power, you cannot be criminally convicted for them.

Facing Criminal Charges? Seek Help from an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Need help dealing with your criminal charges? Contact the skilled  Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP. We believe your case deserves our full attention, and we are dedicated to understanding your case, representing your rights, and helping you achieve the best possible outcome. Call us at 414-271-1440 today to schedule your initial consultation.

Source:

http://reuters.com/article/us-new-york-crime-cannibal-idUSKBN0TM20820151203

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