Picking an Attorney – Part Due (2)

My education about Italian justice was underway. Gulp.

As I mentioned in my last post, a colleague was able to make a recommendation to me on a legal firm based in Milan. On Nov. 28, I made an initial inquiry to the firm, sending along my police report, hospital report and the three documents the State Dept had sent me Thanksgiving week that were in need of short turnaround. I also sent them a copy of the letter I had to submit to the Roman Courts (via the State Department) stating my unequivocal desire that Marco be found guilty of all crimes he committed against me and that the courts proceed with an investigation of Marco for his crimes.

The response I received:

“I can only imagine the terrible shock you’ve been through and your confusion on italian legal system, so I’ll try to answer to all your questions, as far as I’ll be able to.

 The declaration you made to the judge and to the police to move forward, is the condition the police needs to proceed with investigation.

According to italian law, the rule is that the investigation activity is covered by secret and only when it’s over, we can officially discover what the police did and found (for example  details about the evidence the police found at the crime scene, if Marco resisted arrest, if he had physical injuries, if other witnesses have come forward in addition to the people who helped you escape him the morning of your attack).

Of course, we can contact the police asking for more information about this issue, in order to discover if Marco is held in prison or restricted from leaving Italy and, in general, to understand the “direction” of police investigation; just few minutes ago, I had the Ispettore at the phone, he told me that police requested to the judge the arrest of Marco, and he presumes that in few days this is going to happen. He reported me that his team have already done a full recognition of the crime scene and that they asked information to the man helped you escape. He also told me that is section of Rome Police Department is specialized in sex crimes.

My impression on the Ispettore is that he is extremely professional, he has expertise in this kind of cases, so I think we are on good track.     

At the first hearing of the judgment that will be hold in front of the Court of Rome(trial), Italian law gives you the choice to ask the restoring of the damages you have suffered (also moral ones), so if Marco will be declared guilty he will be condemned to pay all the damages and the costs of the procedure, including legal fees. But, I must tell you that all this procedure (from investigation to the end of the judgment) will take time.     

During the procedure, the Italian law gives you the possibility to ask police or the judge to send all official communications or documents directly to yourself or to the (Italian) lawyer you have hired. As you can understand, you have this option only after you’ve chosen a lawyer and you have communicated your choice to the police or the judge.

The sexual assault is a serious crime which carries to a penalty from a minimum of 5 years of prison up to a maximum of ten. In minor cases of sexual assault – and yours doesn’t seem one of these – the penalty (for example a kiss not requested from the victim) can be under five years.”

So, there you have it. An example of the types of information I would eventually have to navigate, as well as the quirks of my attorney’s English. Upon receiving this letter, I felt comfortable hiring the firm. I just needed to figure out how to go about that. See you in Part 3 of this gripping series!

QUOTE: “Groan and forget it. – writer Jessamyn West (Women’s Wit and Wisdom; Runner’s Press)

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