When a defendant faces charges, often much of their life is affected. No matter what the charges stem from, the defendant's professional and personal life are often damaged. This is often due to the media surrounding the event.
An Upper Marlboro judge recently dismissed charges against a man accused of making threats against co-workers. The charges for misusing a telephone stemmed from comments the accused made referring to himself as the "joker" and making perceived threats against his boss and office.
Since the events took place in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, the case garnered extra attention. In that case, a person that also made references to him being the joker character killed multiple people at a showing of a Batman movie.
The Maryland case, however, did not involve any violence, only perceived threats. The accused's criminal defense strategy focused on the vague and defective nature of the charging documents. This resulted in a successful defense.
Events and charges of this nature are not uncommon. Prosecutors and law enforcement are under constant public pressure. When an event takes place that relates to a criminal news event, the pressure from the public can lead to an overreaction and trumped up charges.
In this case, references to a movie character got a man charged simply because it was reminiscent of a headline grabbing crime. Though unwise to invoke similarities to the Colorado tragedy, the accused did not warrant the criminal charges. But, this can happen any time a tragedy occurs. Authorities can be pressured into a witch hunt for those seemingly connected to major news event.
While the charges may be meritless or overly exaggerated, the accused is still in danger of jail time. That is why having a strong defense is so important. Professionals can effectively analyze the charges and determine the proper course. This could result in the charges being dropped and the defendant avoiding unnecessary punishment.
Source: Herald Whig, "Judge dismisses MD. "joker" threat case," Eric Tucker, June 25, 2013