Res gestae, pronounced `rayz jest-tie` is from Latin, meaning `things done`. It refers to all the circumstances surrounding and connected with something which happens.
Res gestae of a crime includes the immediate area and all occurrences and statements immediately after the crime.
I am writing about this to follow-on from what I have written about domestic incidents that the police attend, because Res gestae is used to build a case of circumstantial evidence, where the victim of a domestic assault or incident, does not wish to support a prosecution.
The use of Res gestae evidence to secure a charge and subsequent conviction of a suspect is an important step forward in domestic cases, where large numbers of victims do not wish to become formally involved in a prosecution.
A common question asked is why victims do not want their abuser prosecuted; the answer lies in many reasons, firstly the victim may not have called the police themselves, where a neighbour or passer by phoned the police following concerns they had. Another reason is because of fear, where they just wanted the person removed but they are frightened of making matters worse if they seek to support a prosecution.
These are two examples why victims don`t always want anything done in terms of them supporting the investigation into what has happened.
The use of Res gestae evidence, without the support of the victim, to secure convictions of people who are domestic perpetrators, is a vital tool in keeping victims safe and making sure that offenders are brought to justice.
To help understand how Res gestae evidence works and the benefits, it helps to compare how the legal system use to work before Res gestae evidence could be used and how the system works now.
I can recall attending many domestic incidents where a suspected victim was very upset and distressed and there were visible injuries and broken items over the room, but without the willing support of the victim, the police would turn away and leave. These incidents were not always recorded as a crime.
I also recall incidents where victims told the police they did want a prosecution and even provided a signed statement, however, they changed their mind the next morning and the suspect was simply released from police custody. This also extended to cases where the victim changed their mind much later, but before the first court hearing, which is after the suspect had been charged with an offence, such as assault, and the case was simply dropped once a retraction statement had been obtained.
The legal process has changed a lot since these days and has done so for several years. Cases such as the ones above, are unrecognisable now and police officers who joined after these times and being informed about how things used to work, cannot believe how the old system was allowed – this demonstrates how much better the justice system has got in relation to domestic incidents.
The evidence which can be used in prosecutions involving Res gestae is the attending police officer`s statements, their body worm video recordings, images of injuries to the victim, the recording of he 999 call, any witnesses, including those who may have heard things said, or the victim made a disclosure to.
In addition to the above, bad character evidence can be used too; this is using previous convictions or crime reports involving violence, of the perpetrator, particularly anything which is domestic related involving a former partner.
Prosecutions secured using all circumstantial evidence, but not that of the victim, are an essential method of keeping victims safe and ensuring that abusers are brought to justice.