Right To Remain Silent…Should Mrs. Hoffner Have Issued A Statement?
Today Mrs. Hoffner, through her attorneys, issued a press release, where she read a statement to the assembled press corps. Was this a good idea? Can it possibly help her? She is the wife of accused child pornographer, Todd Hoffner, who is charged with use of minors in a sexual performance and child pornography (Check out my analysis of the Hoffner Porn case)?
While hindsight is always 20-20 and it may be too early to tell, I believe it was not a good idea to call this press conference and since I do enjoy making my lists I’ve assembled 4 reasons why this was a mistake:
It Paints The Prosecutor Into A Corner. As many analysts have reported, this may be a difficult case for the prosecution to prove the sexual theme of the videos. While it may seem that the best defense is a good offense, as a general rule prosecutors don’t like to dismiss charges (I know, I used to be one!) Why? Because the prosecutor has to admit you made a mistake. This is hard for anyone, especially if the prosecutor has a great deal of media scrutiny. It can look like the prosecutor is backing down based on some reporters questions and is soft on crime.
It Reminds Everyone Of The Crime. While this is a big story, both locally in Mankato and throughout the country, it’s usually not good to remind everyone of the criminal charges. While this made many front page newspapers around the state there was the real possibility that not a word would have been said about this in Today or Tomorrows paper or even for a few more weeks. Often times issuing a press release just reminds everyone that your husband is charged with child pornography. This ties into reason number 1 to not issue a statement, the case may be dismissed once the investigation is concluded.
If Found Guilty, It Can Make Sentencing Harder. This really only applies if you either enter into a plea bargain or are found guilty, but remorse is cornerstone in the Minnesota Judicial System, if you show remorse you are to be sentenced more leniently, but if you make statements saying that they whole case is outrageous it can make sentencing more difficult. The interesting note here, and it clearly is a tactical decision by Todd Hoffner’s defense team, was that Mrs. Hoffner made the statement, not Mr. Hoffner. This can help mitigate the damage if Mr. Hoffner is found guilty as he can say that he never made the statement, his wife did.
It May Have Collateral Consequences. Criminal cases are often just the beginning of either a defendant or a defendant’s family involvement with the legal system, a CHIPS case can be filed (where the County asks that the Judge to remove the children from the house) and divorce is always a possibility. I can think that a good divorce lawyer would have a field day with these statements.
You can see there are some risks associated with making statements to the press, even if you are completely innocent. This is a strategic decision that the defense team needs to make and get the entire family on board. Was it the right thing to do in the Todd Hoffner Child Porn Case? For that answer only time will tell.