PHILIPSBURG–Ruben van den Heuvel (21), wrongly identified as a suspect, was fined $480 after being arrested by the police over a year ago. Shortly afterwards the Prosecutor gave him back that money. On Monday, the judge instructed the Prosecutor to also clear the name of the young man by removing Van den Heuvel from the judicial register.
After a phone call to the police about an alleged fight on the street, Van den Heuvel ended up at the police station in Philipsburg, together with a 14-year-old boy. The Prosecutor ordered that each of them pay a fine of $480.
In the case of the minor, his mother had to come to the station to pay the fine – as the police are not allowed to collect money from a minor.
There had been no physical fight. Van den Heuvel was one of four young men who had an altercation with the driver of a BMW that had hit their car. The group told the police that the unknown man had gotten out to see if there was damage and started threatening them. During the discussion that followed there would have been some pushing and pulling, but no physical force was used.
After studying the criminal file, the Prosecutor decided to dismiss the case against Van den Heuvel. For each dismissal, the reasoning – the grounds for dismissal – are recorded in the criminal file. The public prosecutor has the task of informing the suspect and interested parties of the dismissal decision and providing an explanation about it.
There are nine different grounds for dismissal, each identified with a code: dismissal code 01 for when a person was wrongly identified as a suspect, dismissal code 02 for insufficient evidence, code 03 for inadmissibility, code 04 for when the judge was not competent; code 05 for when the act committed was not punishable; code 06 when the offender is not punishable, as in self-defense; code 07 when evidence is unlawfully obtained; code 08 when a case can be settled with a fine, and code 09 in the case of unlawful use of force by a (police) official.
Only if a case is dismissed because someone was wrongly identified as a suspect (Code 01), the name of the person will be removed from the judicial register. If the case is dismissed with one of the other eight codes, this remains registered as a so-called transaction: the person has not been convicted but is “known to the judiciary”.
This also applied to Van den Heuvel, whose case was dismissed “because of insufficient evidence”, even though the Prosecutor could not have demonstrated at all that there had been a criminal offence that could justify his arrest, interrogation and the subsequent fine.
For Immigration and Border Protection Services, Student Finance, and other lenders, as well as his future employers Van den Heuvel remained traceable in the judicial register in connection with Code 02.
“You can quickly be identified as a suspect, but if it turns out that you are innocent, you will not quickly get rid of the label,” says lawyer Cor Merx, who over a year ago was approached by Van den Heuvel to help him get rid of his transaction.
On May 19, 2021, the lawyer lodged an appeal with the Prosecutor’s Office against the decision of the Public Prosecutor to settle the case with Code 02. The Prosecutor failed to respond to the notice of objection. The lawyer submitted that refusal to answer to the Administrative Judge. That judge declared himself inadmissible in the case. Attorney Merx then filed a preliminary injunction before the criminal court on behalf of his client.
On Monday, the judge acknowledged that Van den Heuvel should never have been considered a suspect. More than a year after the incident, the now 21-year-old young man can continue his life with a clean slate.
Bron: Daily Herald