Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What’s Your Motive?

Criminal law is riddled with double standards.  For example, suppose that two seventeen-year-olds get into fisticuffs in the state of Wisconsin, and one of them gets a bruise on the cheek.  Typically, the winner of the fight gets prosecuted regardless of who started it, so let’s further suppose that the kid without the bruise gets charged with felony child abuse.  How can this be?  In Wisconsin, he’s considered an adult because he’s seventeen, and therefore can be charged criminally in adult court.  But wait: the kid who got the bruise on his cheek is also seventeen, so how can this be “child” abuse?  Because there’s a double standard: when considering the age of the accuser, seventeen-year-olds are considered to be mere children, rather than adults.  But as absurd as this double standard is, it pales in comparison the double standard for motive and the third-party defense.