Justice System Comparisons #2: Tough Penalties In Common Law For Slander, False Accusations, Perjury

Posted by Chimera



Supreme Court Of Canada in the capital Ottawa

1. Overview Of My Multi-Part Series

My first piece on the ‘‘Canadian Perspective’’ of criminal law appears here.

That first article focused on an overview of Canadian law, and the punishments that would have been forthcoming coming for murder.  In the case of Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede, they would have been tried for first degree murder, as it happened during a sexual assault, and while the victim was restrained. 

Here are some key differences between Canada and Italy for such a murder case. In Canada:

  • First degree murder would be the charge, in this case no need to prove intent
  • The sentence for 1st degree is life, with the possibility of parole (which is for life), after 25 years
  • Unlike Italy, plea bargaining is possible, and happens frequently
  • During the trial, accused could only make statements under oath (and face cross examination)
  • An appeal to the Provincial Court of Appeals could be filed, but if baseless, would not be heard
  • A Supreme Court of Canada appeal would certainly not be heard if the first appeal was so weak
  • Skipping out on your trials (or appeals), would likely get your bail revoked
  • Leaving the country to go sunbathing, would likely get bail revoked on ‘‘risk of flight’’ grounds

And Canada would have been similar to Italy on these measures:

  • Bail, or ‘‘house-arrest’’ prior to trial would have been extremely unlikely
  • Giving interviews or media appearances while the case is open is VERY unwise
  • If convicted, they could make open statements at sentencing
  • Writing books or getting movie deals (cashing in), would not be permitted

This second post addresses all the other crimes and alleged crimes of Sollecito and Knox mostly to inflame public opinion to lean on the court.

I list first all of the crimes, then the relevant Canadian law, and finally the penalties Sollecito could have faced under that fairminded but firm law.

2. Slander, and False Accusations, and Perjury by AK and RS

1) Much has been made of the false accusation Amanda Knox made against Patrick Lumumba November 5th/6th, 2007.  The American media reported it as a false confession.  In one context they are correct, it was a confession in that it placed her at the scene, at the time of the murder.  However, since she claimed to witness someone else murdering Meredith Kercher, it was in fact a false accusation.  She knew all along Lumumba was innocent. That calunnia got Knox an additional year in prison from Judge Massei.

2) Not content with accusing a man decent enough to give her a job (despite her lack of a European work permit), Knox went further, and claimed she only said that she signed those statements because some officer (whom Knox much later names as Rita Ficarra), smacked her around.

3) In her December 2013 email to the Florence Appeal Court Judge Nencini, Knox goes so far as to refer to her mild questioning as ‘‘torture’‘.  This woman really doesn’t learn.

4) Knox still faces separate charges for the accusations against the police, operative when Judge Hellmann stunningly let AK and RS out.  Although, in a totally inexplicable move (one of many), Hellmann said the accusation was made under duress, not to mislead police—and then increased her calunnia sentence from 1 year to 3.

5) Knox and Solleito each published ‘‘memoirs’‘, Sollecito in September 2012 by Simon and Schuster, and Knox by HarperCollins in April 2013. The books made many claims of corruption, verbal and physical assault, incompetence, judicial fraud, and abuse of due process.  Too numerous to detail here, but TJMK has posted may times on them.  Again, Knox really doesn’t learn from her mistakes.

6) And her ‘‘Knife-Boy’’ drug/fuck-buddy doesn’t seem to learn either.  Both are facing new charges, and at the time of writing, Sollecito and his co-author (now mere ghost-writer??), Andrew Gumbel are facing hearings. Sollecito’s Dad Francesco admits the ‘‘deal’’ with prosecutors to turn on Knox never happened.

7) Knox appeals to the European Court of Human Rights, which will prove amusing as her own lawyers have publicly denied she was assaulted by police.  Again, does she ever learn?

8) Knox made numerous false accusations in her book, some of the worst of which were published in the Italian magazine ‘Oggi’

9) Knox made false accusations of an illegal interrogation which have zero grounding in facts.

10) Knox and Sollecito make many accusations on television interviews too.  To repeat myself: these two really don’t learn.

Although to be complete, Edda Mellas (Amanda’s Mother) doesn’t seem to learn either.

3. Canadian Law For These Kinds Of Crimes

If you level accusations against police officers, officers of the court, or prison officials, by law they must be investigated.  These types of accusations can destroy careers, but even for the ‘‘lucky’’ ones, they are never the same.  This extends to people such as teachers, who have been forced out of teaching due to malicious students.

It really doesn’t matter if you file a formal complaint, post it on the internet, write about it in a book or magazine article, or on television.  Complaints, such as the ones listed above, have to be investigated, in fact it is the same in Italy, the U.S., U.K., or Canada.

Falsely accusing someone of a crime in Italy in a court or to the police is referred to as ‘‘CALUNNIA’‘, which is not quite the same thing as slander, it is worse, with prison terms.

Falsely accusing someone as a crime in the United States is ‘‘OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE’‘.  Different name, same crime.

Guess what, Folks?  You can’t do that in Canada either.  It is called ‘‘PUBLIC MISCHIEF’‘.  Different name, same crime.

If you level accusations against police officers, officers of the court, or prison officials, by law they must be looked into.

Quoted directly from the Canadian Criminal Code:

140 Public mischief

(1) Every one commits public mischief who, with intent to mislead, causes a peace officer to enter on or continue an investigation by

    (a) making a false statement that accuses some other person of having committed an offence;
    (b) doing anything intended to cause some other person to be suspected of having committed an offence that the other person has not committed, or to divert suspicion from himself;
    (c) reporting that an offence has been committed when it has not been committed; or
    (d) reporting or in any other way making it known or causing it to be made known that he or some other person has died when he or that other person has not died.

(2) [Punishment] Every one who commits public mischief

    (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
    (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

    Had Amanda Knox been in Canada when she levelled her false accusation against Lumumba, she would be guilty of cc. 140.  This is something that Judge Massei (2009), Judge Hellmann (2011), and Cassation (2013), all agreed that she did.

    But look at 140.(1)(b)  ‘’ ... Doing anything to cause some other person to be suspected of having committed an offence that the other person had not commited .... ‘’‘.  Yes, all the Courts agreed that happened.  However, consider those last 6 words….

      ’‘.... OR TO DIVERT SUSPICION FROM HIMSELF….’‘

    This was a key difference between Hellmann (2011), and Cassation (2013).  Hellman said that Knox levelled the accusation against Lumumba out of duress, while Cassation said, no, it was ‘‘to divert suspicion from herself.’’  This difference is what resulted in having the aggravating factors attached to Knox’s (now final) calunnia conviction.

    While the fallout from falsely accusing police officers is not over, Knox will likely still have to face those same aggravating factors ahead.  The Courts will reasonably believe that she made up those lies (such as about Migini and Ficarra), to divert suspicion from herself, or to obstruct the process for her murder charge of Meredith Kercher.  After all, Cassation has already ruled that Knox framed Patrick Lumumba to divert suspicion.

    Regarding punishment, public mischief is a ‘‘hybrid offence’‘, meaning the Crown Prosecutors could proceed summarily (lesser) or by indictment (felony).  Since it was to cover up her involvement in a murder, the Prosecutors would certainly have gone by indictment, and Knox would be facing up to 5 years.

    Facing 5 years in Canada, or 6 years in Italy…?  Hardly a significant difference.

    And, if you don’t think that people go to jail in Canada for levelling false accusations, think again.  See the examples here:

    CanLII Website

    Bonnie Ann-Ambrose (of Alberta), 1998, received a 2 year sentence for falsely accusing a police officer of sexual assault.  On appeal, however, the sentence was reduced, she got time served plus 1 additional year in the form of a ‘‘conditional sentence.’‘

    CanLII Website

    Stacy Little (of British Columbia) in 2001, received a 9 month jail sentence for making false accusations of being sexually assaulted while in custody.  She actually got her boyfriend to call and get the investigation launched.  However, it was reduced to 3 months on appeal.

    CanLII Website

    Tina Brun (of New Brunswick), in 2004, reported that she was the victim of a robbery, and it led to 4 youths being arrested.  Brun later admitted it was all a lie.  She received a 3 month jail sentence for the false accusation, and the New Brunswick Court of Appeals confirmed the sentence.

    CanLII Website

    Steven Mankala-Proulx (of Quebec), in 2013, received a 90 day intermittent (weekend) jail sentence, for getting his mother to make a false complaint against a police officer attempting to make a routine stop.  The allegations were for following him, dangerous driving, and fleeing the scene.  The mother did not know the accusations were false, and Steven had not wanted his mother to be angry with him.  The accusations triggered a mandatory investigation, and resulted in the officer being transferred.

    CanLII Website

    Martin John Zeek (in British Columbia) was found guilty of public mischief (cc 140), and fraud (cc 380(1)).  He received 1 year in prison for reporting his refrigeration trailer stolen.  The sentence was confirmed on appeal.”>

    While these sentences are lighter than what Amanda Knox had received, none of the above falsely accused anyone of murder.

    The ‘‘Friends of Amanda’’ frequently criticise Italy’s ‘‘Stone-Age slander laws’‘, but Commonwealth countries like the U.S. and Canada do not allow people to make false criminal accusation either.  Nor does the U.K.

    Canada will not protect such people for the simple reason that we Canadians don’t tolerate such acts either. And while this article covers criminal penalties—a conviction can form the basis of a VERY expensive civil lawsuit.

    Just something to think about—it is NOT free speech.  Nor is a related action: PERJURY.

    Quoted directly from the Canadian Criminal Code:

    Misleading Justice

    [Marginal Note Perjury]

    131. (1) Subject to subsection (3), every one commits perjury who, with intent to mislead, makes before a person who is authorized by law to permit it to be made before him a false statement under oath or solemn affirmation, by affidavit, solemn declaration or deposition or orally, knowing that the statement is false.

    [Marginal Note Video links, etc.]

    (1.1) Subject to subsection (3), every person who gives evidence under subsection 46(2) of the Canada Evidence Act, or gives evidence or a statement pursuant to an order made under section 22.2 of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, commits perjury who, with intent to mislead, makes a false statement knowing that it is false, whether or not the false statement was made under oath or solemn affirmation in accordance with subsection (1), so long as the false statement was made in accordance with any formalities required by the law of the place outside Canada in which the person is virtually present or heard.

    [Marginal Note Idem]

    (2) Subsection (1) applies, whether or not a statement referred to in that subsection is made in a judicial proceeding.

    [Marginal Note Application]

    (3) Subsections (1) and (1.1) do not apply to a statement referred to in either of those subsections that is made by a person who is not specially permitted, authorized or required by law to make that statement.

    [R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 131;  R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 17; 1999, c. 18, s. 92.]

    [Marginal note:Punishment]

    132. Every one who commits perjury is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

    R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 132; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 17; 1998, c. 35, s. 119.

    [Marginal note:Corroboration]

    133. No person shall be convicted of an offence under section 132 on the evidence of only one witness unless the evidence of that witness is corroborated in a material particular by evidence that implicates the accused.

    R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 133; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 17.

    [Marginal note:Idem]

    134. (1) Subject to subsection (2), every one who, not being specially permitted, authorized or required by law to make a statement under oath or solemn affirmation, makes such a statement, by affidavit, solemn declaration or deposition or orally before a person who is authorized by law to permit it to be made before him, knowing that the statement is false, is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

    [Marginal note:Application]

    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a statement referred to in that subsection that is made in the course of a criminal investigation.

    Those free statements Knox, Sollecito and Guede could stand up and make in court…. they would have to be sworn in.  Under oath.

    And if they said anything provably false, they could face a perjury charge as well.

    As these defendants would likely be lying to clear themselves of murder, it would be an indictable offence, and they could get 14 years each just for that.

    And ... Canada puts perjurers in prison as well. See the examples here:

    CanLII Website

    James John Jack (of British Columbia) in 2008 was arrested on drug charges, and convinced a female friend to lie, to get him off the hook.  When it was proven, he received a 2 year jail sentence for perjury.  The original drug charges were dealt with separately.

    CanLII Website

    Victor Akinyemi (of Ontario), in 2011, falsely reported his vehicle stolen in order to fraudulently obtain insurance money.  He signed sworn statements.  He received 3 months.  The Judge noted that the principles of denunciation would not be met with house arrest.”>

    CanLII Website

    Grant Henry Johnson (of British Columbia) received a 3 year jail sentence for falsely testifying that he had done an armed robbery in order to protect another person from being convicted.  He tried to claim Charter of Rights Protections within the Canada Evidence Act, but that defence failed.  Sentence was upheld on appeal.

    CanLII Website

    Waverly Kendall (of Newfoundland), in 2007, received a 3 month jail sentence after she signed a false statement claiming that she sold a car for $1000 (when it was actually for $6000), to lower the tax bill of the person who bought it.  She lied under oath at a judicial proceeding.



    4. Possible Penalties Under Canadian Law

    These are what Sollecito and Knox could have incurred.

    • Knox would have been charged with public mischief (cc 140) for falsely accusing Patrick of attacking Meredith.  Jail time for certain.
    • Knox would have been charged with public mischief (cc 140) for falsely accusing police of assaulting her.  Jail time very likely.
    • Given how contradictory Knox’s June 2009 testimony was, Mignini could probably have gone for perjury (cc 131). Jail time very likely.
    • Edda Mellas, if it could be proven she lied about Amanda’s phone call, could face perjury charges (cc 131). Jail time possible.
    • Sollecito, in 2011 appeal, said Amanda was at his apartment, but gave conflicting statements to police.  Perjury and jail time quite likely.
    • Rudy Guede, as his testimony changed, could have been charged with perjury (cc 131). Jail time very likely.
    • All of the claims of AK, RS and their supporters, if they sparked official investigations, could lead to additional charges of public mischief (cc 140).  Jail sentences possible for some.  Too numerous to list, but you get the idea

    Again, it really isn’t free speech ....

     

    Complete Listings

    1st post appears here:  An Overview.

    2nd post appears here:  Public Mischief and Perjury

    3rd post appears here:  Bail, Extradition & Other Crimes

    4th post appears here:  Canada v.s. the U.S.A. (Part 1)

    5th post coming soon: Canada v.s. the U.S.A. (Part 2)

    6th post coming soon:  Canada and our Family

    7th post coming soon:  Loose Ends, and Reader Request


    Posted by Chimera on 02/05/15 at 08:59 AM in Justice systemsOther systems


    Comments

    Chimera - thanks for your usual Lucid exposition; it’s such a pleasure to read.

    Posted by Cardiol MD on 02/05/15 at 06:10 PM | #

    Chimera’s reference to punishment for Edda Mellas can be understood by reading this post here in which Edda claimed a whole lot of things were talked about with Knox - Prosecutor Comodi sarcastically said: All that in 88 seconds?

    http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/why_defendants_mostly_dont_testify_those_devils_that_lurk_in_the_detai/

    Edda Mellas could also be charged for knowing but not reporting that Knox had framed Patrick Lumumba.

    Knox herself and many around her could be charged with stalking and harassing Meredith’s family. Under American laws which are similar elsewhere, while a legal process is going on there is meant to be ZERO messages to or mention in the media by the accused and their circle of the victim (if alive) or their family, neither nasty nor seemingly benign.

    The “new” mode of stalking by Karen Pruitt etc consists of inciting hate and violence against the Kerchers by saying they are such nice, nice people, just misled by the Italian officials and their lawyer Maresca and us, and Meredith would be on their side.

    That is equally inflammatory and equally in unbalanced minds a call to violence. There have been abusive and threatening messages received in Italy. Now the Communication Police is involved.

    CaliDeeva gave examples of malicious stalking in this good post on her blog here, but she left out the “benign” stalking, and did not quote the relevant laws.

    http://justice4ever.com/2015/02/03/amanda-knox-exploitation-of-her-murder-victim/#more-17146

    Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/05/15 at 07:10 PM | #

    We have long heard from Fischer etc “aint gonna happen, free speech, Italians are toothless tigers, blah blah.” Even on “our side” we sometimes hear this

    Well, legal processes against Curt Knox and Edda Mellas and Frank Sforza and Raffaele Sollecito and Andrew Gumbel and the editor and reporter of OGGI (sort of surrogates for Knox) are all under way.

    And each of those required only a simple complaint with some quotes which an Italian lawyer could write in a day.

    No complaint against Sollecito’s or Knox’s books have been filed yet by any police or prison staff, but there are a lot of causes waiting there.

    The statute of limitations in Italy on the accusations of crimes in the two books does not cut in until a couple of years after those abused FIND OUT that they were abused.

    Via the media many Italians are finding out what was said about them, right now.

    Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/05/15 at 07:41 PM | #

    Another lunatic is George Barlow who pushes the Peter Gill articles upon contamination which (and as I have often pointed out) is just opinion and nothing else. He writes reams of blog in the hope that somewhere it will catch attention. There always seems to be one or two lunatic fringe people around who will believe anything they are told.

    Where these people come from is a mystery. George also believes that there is a statute of limitations upon extradition which even if there was does not start until after March. In other words anything to hang his hopes on. Problem with him and the other FOAkers, is the information they receive is simply wrong but they live in hopes of course.

    Some scream about different US citizens which the State Department has denied extradition to the requesting country. They refuse to admit that every case is treated individually, but again it has become obvious that they are badly informed and close minded little people. One simple fact is that here there are drugs involved and that alone is a stake in the heart of their argument.

    I sometimes consider a conversation in which Knox is talking to Michael Heavey.  For example.

    Knox…. “But Michael they know about my dealer Frederico Martini and the drugs.”

    Heavey…“Nonsense Amanda. Who amongst us can truthfully say they have never slept with a notorious Mafia drug dealer? I know I have!”

    Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 02/06/15 at 10:57 AM | #

    Sorry that should read GeorgeHenshaw1. George Barlow (English guy) is the one who believes that Jody Arias is innocent. They crawl amongst us.

    Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 02/06/15 at 04:01 PM | #

    Thank you Cardiol.  There are actually a few more coming on the ‘‘Canadian Perspective’’—about 5 or 6 in total, including these.

    Pete - Yes, Edda also let PL sit in jail. Shows what kind of morals that whole family has.

    Grahame - Jodi Arias is innocent. 

    -Jodi just happened to be driving through Arizona with extra gas cans because she didn’t like stopping—anywhere. 
    -The gun ‘‘stolen’’ in a staged ‘‘break-in’’ months earlier just happened to be the right caliber. 
    -Lied repeatedly, I mean, had difficulty with her ‘‘best truth’‘.
    -She didn’t tell anyone she was going to Mesa.
    -Cleaned up crime scene, and did not report it.
    -Turned off her cell phone when she was in Arizona.
    -Tried to slime her prosecutor.
    -Has a birthday of July 9th.

    Sound familiar?

    Jodi Arias is so ‘quirky’.

    Posted by Chimera on 02/06/15 at 10:36 PM | #

    Thank you, Chimera, for this informative post and all your efforts. I look forward to my daily reading.

    Posted by Wascana on 02/07/15 at 12:20 AM | #

    Chimera’s Canada-system posts seem to me very important, for this reason. There are some good articles showing up by law professors which we may later link to trying to compare and frame Italian law as compared to US law.

    Italy does come out looking good. The problem is (as some of the professors admit) that the two systems are poles apart, and in certain ways the US system comes out looking much worse, which a defensive American audience tends subliminally to screen out.

    (Poor old US, I have never seen it in a more defensive mode. When I worked in the UN it was always a tremendous force for good and deserves at least some praise, even if its ideas on nation building could fit on a stamp.)

    Using Canada as the basis for a comparison is that it it is widely seen as a fair system and comes with no baggage, and the system is at more of a midway point. So thanks to Chimera for spotting the vacuum here.

    Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/07/15 at 10:53 AM | #

    Looking forward to article about Porta a Porta:

    “I can not answer for AK,” RS reminded Vespa and then retraced the events of that night: “From around the hours of 20:30/21:00 I was home - said the accused - and I did not go out to Via della Pergola with AK when she went back. I stayed behind sleeping.”

    If this is accurate then there has been a shift from the last press conference

    THE JUDGES say she lied about the early evening to:

    I, RS, say she lied about the early evening

    As if the press conference was putting a kitten anong the pigeons knowing it would soon grow to be a cat.

    Posted by PK777 on 02/07/15 at 03:10 PM | #


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    Where next:

    Click here to return to The Top Of The Front Page

    Or to next entry Sollecito On Italian TV: Seems RS And AK Selling Out One Another Is Gravitating To A Whole New Plane

    Or to previous entry To Create Points With More Traction For His Yawnfests, Mr Heavey Convenes A Mock Court…