Did you know if a burglar cuts his hand breaking into your house, you could pay his medical costs? It’s not an urban legend, there are actual court cases. Victims pay medical costs, lost time at work, endure physical and emotional therapy, car and home repairs, etc. Maybe you have already been a paying victim. On the dullest bright side, criminals can be sued but what are the odds of actually receiving the money? It’s time we protect ourselves from civil lawsuits by our victimizers with a national victim’s protection bill. It may be our only saving grace.
Indiana passed a law protecting victims from civil lawsuits. The law states victims have the right to use justifiable force to protect themselves if someone is committing a felony against them. If a judge decides the force is a felony then the victims cannot be sued. That is a great start but weak when we review real victim situations. Battery is a misdemeanor in most states but there could be constructive surgery for facial or bodily harm. Wobbler infractions can negate the Indiana law. A wobbler case can either upgrade or downgrade a crime to or from a felony. Let’s use domestic violence as an example. A victim (yes it happens to men and women) is hospitalized from a severe battering from their spouse. They fought back and the abuser received a fractured nose. The “victim” sustains 4 broken ribs, stitches above their eye and a concussion. How will the judge decide? They could wobble by applying “Stockholm syndrome” or “battered women syndrome” to refrain from charging the abuser with a felony. Does the question then become who is the victim?
Wobblers continue when we review the relationship between victims and their victimizers. Homicides are normally a felony unless you are protected by “Stand Your Ground” laws in 25 states (yep, half of us are wibbly, wobbly on protection). In nearly 38% of justifiable homicide cases in these states, the victim and shooter were known to each other. Inter-relational crime can be wobbly as well due to crimes of passions. The worst-case scenario in self-defense laws is the statement-” no civil remedies are unaffected”. This means if you stand your ground you can still be sued for civil damages.
We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. It’s time to call on Congress to create a Constitutional amendment for all victims’ rights. First, it must include the basis of stand your ground laws where people can protect themselves with justifiable homicide or bodily injury. Yes, we can shoot someone in the leg instead of killing them in our defense. Secondly, it must include a firm description of defendable criminal actions for both misdemeanors and felonies. A crime is a crime and there is always a victim so why should any law only cover some offenses and not others? It should include descriptions for disseminating differences in victimization. A misdemeanor battery should be included if damages are over $300 dollars and the victim must prove their damages were higher than the other persons to be the stated victim. Thirdly and most importantly, no civil actions or lawsuits can be lobbied against a victim-ever in any case, no matter what. Period. These are but a couple of ideas Congressional leaders may use in a national law.
We cannot continue to fail victims while enriching criminals. As America’s crime continues to decrease, we are a safer and healthier country. But our economic victimization woes can destabilize a relatively peaceful society.