Imagine that, for the sake of argument, the police are actively pursuing the mysterious disappearance of a Mr. John Smith.
For reasons which escape me right now, their persistent enquiries have led them to the door of my home (the imaginatively titled Chez Guevara). They have a warrant to search the place, and they use it in a manner which leaves nothing untouched.
My property is trashed. My wardrobes and storage cupboards are taken apart. Ornaments are broken in the process. Floorboards are removed and discarded carelessly in the front garden. My computer is seized, therefore my scholarly paper provisionally entitled The Mating Rituals of Short-Clawed European Otters in a Negative Celsius Temperature Scenario will not reach the publisher within the timetable laid down by him.
There is, in short, substantial damage to my home, its contents and my academic reputation.
Several possibilities exist, like so;
I am totally innocent of any crime, especially this one, so naturally the police find nothing on the premises to incriminate me.
I am guilty of the disappearance of Mr. Smith but I have cunningly concealed his corpse in the false compartment of my fridge/freezer. (It’s a big one, bought specifically for the purpose.) The police don’t find the body but, exercising reasonable caution, I subsequently remove it from its hidey hole and transfer it to a more remote and inaccessible location.
I am guilty of the disappearance of Mr. Smith and, to my great annoyance, the police discover his body in the fridge. I make a mental note to buy a new one (no-one wants to use a refrigerator which has recently contained a dead body) before being arrested and charged with all sorts of crimes.
Fortunately I have a good barrister and he gets me off on a series of technicalities. I am legally innocent of everything connected with this case.
- I am guilty of the disappearance of Mr. Smith and the police find the body. I am arrested, charged, remanded in custody, brought to trial, found guilty (even my barrister can’t get me out of this one) and thrown unceremoniously into the less than luxurious surroundings of a prison cell.
My question is this:
a) In the first 3 examples wherein I am not guilty, not charged or found not guilty, who is financially responsible for putting my house back in its usual pristine condition. I would guess that the responsibility is not mine but I would appreciate confirmation or denial.
b) In example 4, where I am as guilty as hell both legally and otherwise, is the answer any different. Does the fact that I am caught bang to rights with a body in my fridge dictate that I must pay for any damage caused by the police to my property in their efforts to bring me to justice.
Answers may vary by jurisdiction but any input is welcomed.