Should a false witness be punished more when the framed person is sentenced to longer than normal?

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    Suppose a false witness blames someone for a crime they did not commit.
    The judge in this particular case decides to sentence the person to twice as long as people normally get sentenced to for committing that type of crime, with similar circumstances.

    Question: Should the false witness get punished more because the judge decided to sentence the other person to a longer prison sentence?

    Suppose they don't find out the witness was lying until after the innocent person has already served the majority of their sentence.

    This is kind of an interesting ethical dilemma question, which I hope will spark a lively debate.
    We all agree that the false witness should be punished for getting an innocent person sent to prison. But can they also be held responsible for the judge's discretionary decision unduly sentencing the innocent person to longer than normal?

    I see getting into some murky ethical issues when laying all the blame on one person from something that also resulted from the decision of another.

    Should the punishment for the false witness all be based on how long the judge sentences the innocent defendant to, rather than what the alleged crime actually is?
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
  2. Margot2

    Margot2 Banned

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    False accusations in Islam are very, very serious. The liar may get the penalty the accused would have gotten.
     
  3. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    But what does "would have gotten" mean exactly? Different people end up getting different sentences for the same crime, that's just how it ends up working out in reality. Sometimes one judge may feel like being merciful, another judge may feel like giving the maximum possible punishment because they looked at him the wrong way in the courtroom.

    The liar might not have exact control over exactly how long they are sentenced, it could be something rather unexpected.

    Maybe the judge wasn't really using the best proper reasoning when deciding the sentence. More punishment for the liar because of the whim of an errant judge in the other case?

    Another variation of this same dilemma could be one of bail. One defendant may not be able to afford bail, so will wait a long time behind bars waiting for his trial, while another defendant can afford the bail. Suppose 9 months go by, and they finally figure out the witness was lying. Should the punishment be affected by whether the innocent defendant was able to afford bail?
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
  4. Deltaboy

    Deltaboy Active Member

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  5. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    Thank you for giving your opinion.

    So you believe that someone who gives false testimony should be punished not only based on what their lies were, but also based on what ended up happening to that person based on the lies, even if the excessive punishment was also the fault of the judge.

    In other words, that's sort of similar to the felony murder doctrine, where you can be punished for someone else's wrong doing.
    In this case, the false witness would be punished for the wrongdoing of the judge, because the entire miscarriage of justice wouldn't have happened in the first place if the witness didn't commit a crime.

    To rephrase this all again: The witness lies and says someone committed a crime. That crime should be punished with 3 years. But the judge decides to sentence them to 9 years. So, if the innocent person ends up spending 9 years in prison, then the false witness should spend 9 years in prison.
    Even if the false witness had no reasonable expectation that his lie would end up resulting in that other person spending so much time in prison.

    It's also interesting to point out that, in practice, judges will never get punished if they sentence someone to 9 years who should only have been sentenced to 3 years. It has never happened.
    The law gives judges a considerable amount of discretion, and they are never held to account if they misuse that power.

    (One can only hope there's an afterlife where their thoughts will be examined and they will be judged for their past decisions, if they knowingly made a decision that wasn't just)
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
  6. PopulistMadison

    PopulistMadison Active Member

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    The witness could have recanted upon learning of the higher penalty.

    The problem though is how certain are we this time the witness is lying? Do we want people testifying a certain way because they are in fear of being punished if the court already believes otherwise.
     
  7. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    Interesting perspective.

    "Don't be too quick to go to court about something you have seen. If another witness later proves you wrong, what will you do then?"
    Proverbs 25:8
    (Good News Translation)


    Unfortunately, this is also the reason why women who make false rape accusations most often go unpunished.
    Nobody wants to discourage real rape victims from coming forwards.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  8. PopulistMadison

    PopulistMadison Active Member

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    We should punish liars, but a higher standard of evidence needs to be required. Merely being contradicted by twice as many "upstanding" witnesses should not be enough. Other witnesses may exonerate the accused, but only video should convict witnesses.

    Also, witnesses often change stories when threatened with violence. They then get punished. So even changing ones story is not enough. You must look at whether evidence made them confess, and how strong the evidence is.
     
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  9. Deltaboy

    Deltaboy Active Member

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    Day for Day , hour for hour , minute for minute X 2.
     
  10. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    No. I don’t think the response to someone knowingly giving false evidence should even be influenced by whether the suspect is convicted or not, let alone their sentence. It should be entirely about what the witness said (or didn’t say) and their motivation.

    I’ve long had a general opinion that crime should be addressed based on the potential risks of an action rather than the actual outcome, given that so many independent factors can make a massive difference. For example, if a drunk driver runs someone over but a heroic paramedic goes above and beyond to save the victims life, why should the driver face a much less serious charges (say “drunk driving” rather than “causing death by dangerous driving”) when their decisions and actions were exactly the same regardless?
     
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  11. reallybigjohnson

    reallybigjohnson Well-Known Member

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    I figured this was what you were getting at. Women who falsely claim rape should be sued for every last dollar in their bank accounts, their homes, all future earnings, automatically barred from any welfare assistance and automatic 10 years in prison. If you want to stop false rape allegations then you need to put the hammer down on the women who do make false allegations. Note that you have to prove that the women deliberately lied and it wasn't just a case of remembering incorrectly. This would weed out the political hacks trying to score quick cash on from politicians or famous people since they tend to talk about their plans before and after with other people.
     
  12. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    No woman should get money because she was raped.
    If you want to try to prevent false rape accusations, handing out money to women who make those accusations is just about the worst thing you can do.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2018
  13. Chester_Murphy

    Chester_Murphy Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    justice is not revenge
     
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  14. jack4freedom

    jack4freedom Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I say yes. If a witness testifies falsely against a person who is convicted and it can be proven, that witness should be given at least as much time as the one falsely accused. However this would fill the prison system with dirty cops...
     
  15. btthegreat

    btthegreat Well-Known Member

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    One of our problems is that the percentage of Muslims in large regions of our country, is so small, that people in smaller towns and rural areas may never actually meet anyone who openly self identifies as Muslim. Not a lot of us who have not traveled outside the states, have even seen a Mosque without the aide of television, a movie or the internet . Muslims are very easy to successfully stereotype and label in most states.

    We actually need more of them outside of major metropolitan centers, so they aren't so scary in the abstract!
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
    Sallyally and Margot2 like this.
  16. Blaster3

    Blaster3 Well-Known Member

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    once proven that a witness gave false testimony that resulted in a conviction, then that false witness should switch places with the convicted individual, no reason to have both behind bars, however, the liar shouldn't get any 'time' credited to them, if the convicted person was sentenced to 10 years & already served 7 years when the truth came out, the liar should switch places with the falsely convicted person AND then begin the 10 year sentence without any possibility of early release...
     
  17. Bic_Cherry

    Bic_Cherry Member

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    Depends on how much the judge relied on the testimony of the particular false witness. If the judge had a personal grudges or was evidenced to have imposed a politically motivated sentence or was corrupt, the the judge should be punished to the extent to which he is liable, likewise the false witness.

    Some information about the Singapore penal code under the search term "false witness" if it helps:

    https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/PC1871?ValidDate=20171001&ProvIds=P4XI_191-
     
  18. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    Judges don't necessarily give their exact reasoning when they arrive at a particular sentence, so it would later be open to reinterpretation and speculation (unless possibly if it went back to the original judge and he clearly remembered all the details of the original case, which would be unlikely).

    Example: I mean, a judge doesn't specifically write down "If it weren't for this witness I would have sentenced the defendant to 2 years instead of 5."

    Or someone can be simultaneously charged with crime A and crime B, and the judge sentences them to 5 years, but doesn't say how much of that sentence is for committing crime A and how much of it is for committing crime B, so if it's later shown they didn't commit one of those crimes, they're basically going to have to be entirely resentenced all over again.
    (This is pretty common because a lot of charges are just different aspects of the same crime, so it would be absurd to try to sentence them separately)
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
  19. Maquiscat

    Maquiscat Well-Known Member

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    The liar casued damage to the innocent person. As in many cases, a person who caused damage might have additional damage occur to one person due to specific circumstances, that would happen to another with the exact same action.

    The end result is to compensate the innocent for their loses. This might be a case where the civil law and the criminal law would both have to come into play. The civil case would then be more flexible in both gaining compensation for the innocent party as well as additional punishment for the false witness.
     
  20. JakeStarkey

    JakeStarkey Well-Known Member

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    The person who bore false witness deliberately can offer nothing of worth in mitigation during sentencing.

    The Judge is free to sentence the perp to the max the law will permit if he so wishes.
     

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