In a previous post I discussed the right of every Illinois criminal defendant to a speedy trial and touched on how in some cases, it may be to the defendant’s advantage to waive that right. An arrest warrant issued earlier this month against a 41-year old Rolling Meadows, Illinois man on charges of second-degree sexual assault and false imprisonment is an excellent example of a time when waiver of that right may prove favorable to the defendant.
Advantage to Not Invoking Chicago Right to Speedy Trial
In 2012, a Rolling Meadows, Illinois man known by the street name “Joker” allegedly locked a then 16-year-old girl at a party, threatened to kill her if she screamed and then sexually assaulted her. After the defendant left the bathroom, the girl went home and slept; several hours later she told her mother what happened and went to the hospital for a rape examination. The defendant had distinctive tattoos that helped police eventually determine his identity.
So what is it about this case that would recommend that the defendant waive his right to a speedy trial?
It has been two years since the alleged crime occurred – and it could be even more before the defendant is arrested. In her statement to police just a few hours after the alleged attack, the girl stated that she could not remember all the details of the attack. Memories fade, so the more time that passes between the alleged attack and the criminal trial makes the girl’s testimony, which was weak to begin with, only weaker. The testimony of other potential witnesses, including the girls’ friends who helped her return home and the girl’s mother, will also suffer from the passage of time.
The passage of time may also impede the prosecution’s ability to convince the girl to cooperate and provide testimony. If the assault did in fact occur, she may not want to relive the incident by going through a trial, especially since an experienced sex crimes attorney would use her admission that she cannot remember all the details of that evening to poke holes in her testimony.
As far as the girl’s friends who were with her at the time of the incident, the prosecution may be unable to locate and secure their testimony for trial as well. They may have started over in a new city, enrolled in college, or started families – all things that could make them unwilling to cooperate. The circumstances surrounding the incident – accepting an invitation to a party with adult men they did not know – may also be embarrassing to them in their new lives and not something they would not willingly revisit. Already their memories are tainted with the passage of time – add hostility to the mix and you have a witness with the potential to react negatively in court, making her testimony all the more suspect.
In this case, where the alleged victim’s memory was already shaky within hours of the crime occurring, the passage of time can only help in the defense, and it would be more advantageous to not invoke the right to a speedy trial. Continue reading