Our partner Adam Bernstein took a unique approach for a recent defendant in the case of a hit-and-run accident on the highway last year. The case, which has been reported on by the local news, gives an example of an approach to justice that many defendants and defense attorneys may find useful.
What is Restorative Justice
Many aspects of our current justice system focus on punitive aspects of justice: that is, determining who is guilty and punishing them for their crime. In contrast, Restorative Justice is a term used to describe approaches that focus on reconciliation between victim and offender, as well as building or rebuilding community ties. Restorative Justice aims to focus on the humanity of all persons impacted by a criminal act. The hope is that these processes can improve community relationships and result long-term negative outcomes of criminal punishment.
Adam Bernstein’s Defense Approach
In this case, Bernstein’s defendant hit the victim in the breakdown lane on the highway, causing serious injuries. The families of the victim and the defendant met with a victim’s advocate and the defendant. Over the course of the meeting, they discussed the accident and its affects on both of their lives. The goal of this sort of meeting allows a defendant to express remorse and make amends. As Bernstein explains, it also allows a victim to get closure, and “to see that people who are charged with crimes aren’t necessarily bad people”.
As a result of the settlement, the judge suspended the defendant’s sentence; he will be on probation for several years.
Restorative justice is not a common approach in U.S. courts, but it has been used in many cultures for much of history. It’s a great tool for defense attorneys and defendants in New Hampshire to consider!
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you with your legal concerns.