A little too much time has passed since my last post, so let’s resume where I previously left off. First, let’s look at the legal facts of this case. Of the 12 charges filed against Simpson, the most serious in terms of penalties are the charges for armed robbery and kidnapping. As at least one member of Simpson’s party was armed with a gun, that charge appears legally appropriate, as it hasn’t yet been shown that the property Simpson was seeking was, as he claims, legally his property. If that property were later proven to in fact belong to Simpson, it may be difficult for a jury to convict Simpson of “robbing” someone of property that they did not have “rightful possession” to. As to the kidnapping charge, I’d have to say – without at all being a Simpson apologist – that is quite a stretch, legally speaking.
Technically speaking, a charge of “kidnapping” (also sometimes spelled “kidnaping”) necessarily includes the act of either holding or transporting someone against their will by force or threat of force. A common legal definition is: “The taking of a person against his/her will (or from the control of a parent or guardian) from one place to another under circumstances in which the person so taken does not have freedom of movement, will, or decision through violence, force, threat or intimidation.” In Las Vegas, conviction on a kidnapping charge is punishable by five years to life in prison. A conviction of armed robbery carries a mandatory sentence of at least two years behind bars, and could bring as much as 30. Sentencing for Simpson has been set for Dec. 5. Obviously , the stakes are very high for Simpson.
“When they (Simpson and his party) went into that room and forced the victims to the far side of the room, pulling out guns and yelling, `Don’t let anybody out of here!’ – six very large people detaining these two victims in the room with the intent to take property through force or violence from them – that’s kidnapping,” prosecutor David Roger said.
Are those the words of an objective, dispassionate prosecutor who would have felt the same way had this charge been brought against any of the anonymous millions who come to Las Vegas with the now well-known attitude, “What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas”, or are these legal hairs being split because the person charged is O.J. Simpson? The odds are, both are true. It’s accurate that Simpson’s conduct meets the definition of the charges of armed robbery (so far, that is.) As to the “kidnapping” charge, while it may be technically accurate, as I said, it’s somewhat of a legal stretch. Typical kidnapping charges almost always conduct involving ransom demands, sexual offenses, or a noncustodial parent taking and holding a child in violation of a court order (such as seen recently in the case of the Boston suspect known as “Clark Rockefeller.”) While the men in that room who were allegedly threatened by Simpson and his party were apparently detained against their will under threat of harm, it’s not very likely that a kidnapping charge would ever have been brought if these suspects did not include O.J. Simpson (or a person of his equal repute).
Therefore, speaking legally and on a technical level, it’s true that both of these charges of armed robbery and kidnapping, apply here. However, as a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, I think it’s also true that ‘Payback’ is operative here. Since Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of criminal charges of murder in the deaths of his wife Nicole Simpson and Ron Brown, he’s widely been thought of as guilty man who slipped through the criminal justice system as the result of a biased jury, a defense-oriented judge, and a legal “dream team.” At the end of this story, Simpson may become more known for the adage “What Goes Around, Comes Around,” than anything else in his life.