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Murder by witchcraft

 
 
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 09:30 am
Let us suppose that there is a self-proclaimed witch named Hazel who runs a fortune-telling and psychic-counselling business. The local prosecutor is, through the legal process, attempting to shut down Hazel's business because he believes that she is perpetrating a fraud upon the public. A local television station interviews Hazel for a story on the controversy, and Hazel says: "I want everyone to know that I have put a death-curse on the prosecutor. Because of this curse, the prosecutor will soon die a horrible, painful death. This is a very powerful curse, and I am completely confident that it will work."

The jurisdiction in which Hazel is located has the following law in effect:
    Attempt. (a) Elements of the Offense. A person commits an attempt when, with intent to commit a specific offense, he does any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that offense. (b) Impossibility. It shall not be a defense to a charge of attempt that because of a misapprehension of the circumstances it would have been impossible for the accused to commit the offense attempted.
The prosecutor, who sees this television interview, instructs the police to arrest Hazel for attempted murder.

Should Hazel be convicted of attempting to murder the prosecutor by means of her death-curse?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 3,113 • Replies: 24
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shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 09:34 am
Confused
ug.

I knew i was going to have to think some time this morning. Laughing


No. she should not be prosecuted.
You cant prove a spell.
And if words were enough to convict and sentance.. well.. I dont think there would be enough free people in this country to fill the jury box.

what physical evidence is there? that she said she cast a spell?
Well.. spell work takes..
ug..
im thinking too much.

simply.. my opinion... no. there isnt enough to convict.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 09:49 am
Sorry to make you think, shewolfnm: I know it's early in the morning, but just be glad it's not a Monday :wink:

I forgot to mention: Hazel not only stated that she put a curse on the prosecutor, but she actually did put a curse on him -- in that she went through all the proper curse-placing procedures necessary for that particular type of curse. Furthermore, there are credible witnesses who will testify that they saw Hazel performing these procedures and that she re-stated, at that time, her intent to kill the prosecutor by means of the curse.
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shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 10:11 am
so my next question...
Has she effectively killed anyone else with her spell work?
If so, is thier proof and if there is....
see what I am getting at?
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 10:13 am
I think it would be hard to prosecute someone for murder by witchcraft and try to shut her down for fraud by witchcraft at the same time.....
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shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 10:16 am
ouch.

good point bpb.


see.. i cant think. that IS an oxymoron
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 10:19 am
I think she could be prosecuted by the letter of the law. If curses work, then she's guilty by (a). If they don't work, but she believes them to work, she is still guilty by (b). Her only defense would be that she is a complete fraud and did not believe for a minute that the curse would work.
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rufio
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 12:31 pm
If they can prove that she did cast a spell, sure. But just saying something isn't an attempted murder, unless saying that was somehow a part of her spell.
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 12:34 pm
I think it must be a slow news day in Chicago.... Laughing
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Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 01:12 pm
Something similar happened in Britain during the second world war. A self proclaimed psychic held a seance for a mother who's son was in the Royal Navy and accurately told her that her son ship had been sunk. A fact the British government was trying to conceal The psychic's statement was published in the newspapers. Local prosecutors attempting to prosecute the psychic for breach of security charged her under a 17th century law outlawing witchcraft. Churchill immediately rammed a bill through parliament removing the statute.
I would say that if there is a statute making witchcraft a crime, then she could be prosecuted, otherwise no. There a number a states, especially those founded in the 17th century that might still have such laws hidden in their statue books.
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 01:16 pm
What about students who practice wicca who have been suspended or expelled from school because students with more conventional religious beliefs accuse the wiccans of casting hexes?
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 01:22 pm
Joe,

Very entertaining !

IMO
Since the prosecutor has already accused Hazel of "fraud" he would be unjustified in assigning "a curse" to the cateogory "an act towards the committing of murder".

Have you read Evans Pritchard on "Azande Witchraft" ? Official western style trials were parallelled by traditional methods of examining the entrails of a chicken to "really" establish the guilt of the accused !
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 01:45 pm
shewolfnm wrote:
so my next question...
Has she effectively killed anyone else with her spell work?
If so, is thier proof and if there is....
see what I am getting at?

Hazel, on the advice of her attorney, refuses to say whether or not she has ever successfully placed a death-curse on anyone else.

FreeDuck wrote:
I think she could be prosecuted by the letter of the law. If curses work, then she's guilty by (a). If they don't work, but she believes them to work, she is still guilty by (b). Her only defense would be that she is a complete fraud and did not believe for a minute that the curse would work.


fresco wrote:
Since the prosecutor has already accused Hazel of "fraud" he would be unjustified in assigning "a curse" to the cateogory "an act towards the committing of murder".

It would seem that both sides are facing something of a dilemma here. If Hazel defends herself by saying that her witchery is ineffective, then she is admitting to the charges of fraud. On the other hand, if the prosecutor charges her with fraud, then how can he claim that Hazel was attempting to do anything with her curse?

fresco wrote:
Have you read Evans Pritchard on "Azande Witchraft" ?

Nope, never heard of it.

Bi-Polar Bear wrote:
I think it must be a slow news day in Chicago....

Well . . . :wink:
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Einherjar
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 03:11 pm
joefromchicago wrote:
fresco wrote:
Since the prosecutor has already accused Hazel of "fraud" he would be unjustified in assigning "a curse" to the cateogory "an act towards the committing of murder".

It would seem that both sides are facing something of a dilemma here. If Hazel defends herself by saying that her witchery is ineffective, then she is admitting to the charges of fraud. On the other hand, if the prosecutor charges her with fraud, then how can he claim that Hazel was attempting to do anything with her curse?


I'm with the prosecutor on this one, accuse her of both and see which one she confesses to.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 06:19 pm
That only works on Law and Order.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 06:48 pm
I say bind her in knots, throw her in the lake. If she floats she's guilty (burn the witch) if she sinks she's innocent (cremate her).
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Einherjar
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 09:37 pm
FreeDuck wrote:
That only works on Law and Order.


I don't really see the problem with the approach, but then I've never studied law.
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rufio
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 09:48 pm
I actually find the accusation of fraud to be less viable than the accusation of murder. Can you arrest someone for such fraud? Can you arrest the makers of soft drinks if their drink does not live up to what their commercial promised? I am a little confused as to why this would be a solid case. People pay Hazel in any case to at least appear to be casting a spell. If she truly is appearing to do something, and they are happy with the results, where is the fraud? If they are unhappy with the results, I'd expect that they would take their own actions against her, like demanding their money back or something.
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Magus
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2004 01:25 am
Is the Local Prosecutor still on the case?
If he's still alive... , then he's already "proved" that the "Curse" and "Curser" were ineffectual frauds.
I could see a "Malicious Mischief" charge, but not Premeditated Murder.
Frankly, it sounds to me as if the Local Prosecutor is the one who initiated the Malicious Mischief... it was he who bothered to take aim and target someone, that person responded (with something describeable as "Religious Ritual").

Only the truly bloodthirsty would attempt to charge the petty Fraud with "Attemped Murder"... tsk, tsk, tsk.
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val
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2004 03:24 am
Re: Murder by witchcraft
Joe
That prosecutor is an idiot. He cannot try to shut Hazel's business claiming it is a fraud and, at same time, acusing her with attempt to murder with the same means he qualified as fraud.
But he could acuse her of menacing him. That is different.
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