Home Entertainment Will the law be lenient on Hajia4real?

Will the law be lenient on Hajia4real?

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Mona Faiz Montrage
Mona Faiz Montrage

As the burden of proof lies on the U.S government

In recent times, Mona Faiz Montrage, also known as Hajia4Reall has been indicted on six counts related to her involvement in a series of romance scams and money laundering amounting to two million dollars ($2m) by the United States Attorney of the Southern District of New York.

Through the diligence of Michael J. Driscoll who happens to be the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the case involving Mona Faiz Montrage was brought to the public limelight in May, 2023.

In the US and other common law jurisdictions, the presumption of innocence of a defendant facing a criminal trial is assumed to be innocent until he/she has been proven guilty.

In such cases, the prosecutor is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person standing trial to be convicted was the one who committed the crime.

Refer to Article 19 (2)(a) of the 1992 constitution of Ghana on fair trial which stipulates that the accused “be presumed to be innocent until he is proved or has pleaded guilty.”

The presumption of innocence is not guaranteed by the U.S constitution rather through statutes and case laws. See in the Supreme Court case of Taylor v Kentucky.

Some school of thought has linked common law countries to the Adversarial legal system “where two advocates (Lawyers) represent their parties’ case or position before an impartial person or group of people, usually a judge or jury, who attempt to determine the truth and pass judgement accordingly.”

Unlike Civil law jurisdictions like Germany, Dutch, China, etc where an accused person is guilty until proven innocent in criminal matters. In the case of the Director of Public Prosecutions v. Labavarde and Anor, Neerunjun C.J. said that article 11(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 6(2) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms would be infringed if “the whole burden is … cast on the defence by the creation of a presumption of guilt on the mere preferment of the criminal charge”.

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In State v. Brady (1902) 91 NW 801, Weaver J said “‘Presumptions of guilt’ and ‘prima facie’ cases of guilt in the trial of a party charged with crime mean no more than that from the proof of certain facts the jury will be warranted in convicting the accused of the offence with which he is charged”.

An inquisitorial system is a legal system in which the court, or a part of the court, is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case.

This is distinct from an adversarial system, in which the role of the court is primarily that of an impartial referee between the prosecution and the defence and this system is connected to civil law countries.

Mona Faiz Montrage, cited earlier, has been charged with the following counts of misconduct or offences, that is; conspiracy to commit wire Fraud which is stated in the section 1349 of the Title 18 of the United States Code, wire fraud (section 1343 and 2), Money laundering conspiracy in the section 1956 (h), Money laundering ( section 1956(a)(1)(B)(i) and 2) and Conspiracy to receive stolen money in section 371. Also, Receipt of stolen money as count six which is in the section 2315 and 2 of the above mentioned U.S states code.

It’s the main criminal code of the federal government of the United States. The Title deals with federal crimes and criminal procedure which is akin to the criminal procedure code 1960 (Act 30) of Ghana.

The question of whether or not Mona Faiz Montrage is the one who committed the above mentioned offences or she facilitated the offences will be proven by the U.S government. See in the case of the United States of America v Ramon Olorunwa Abbas (Ray Hushpuppi), a popular Nigerian online socialite.

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He was sentenced to nearly 12 years in federal prison and was ordered to pay more than $30m in restitution.

Generally, every crime involves three elements: the act or conduct (actus reus), the individual’s mental state at the time of the act (mens rea) and the causation between the act and the effect typically either proximate causation or but-for causation.

Under US law, elements of a crime represent a set of facts that have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a defendant of a crime.

There are several defences that can be deployed by the counsel of the accused party; that is, a good faith as a defence which means that the defendant or accused acted in good faith and did not have the necessary intent to defraud the affected parties.

It does not matter that a person’s statement or belief is wrong, there will be no action for fraud unless the intent to deceive is present.

Whilst there is a saying in law which says “equity aids the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights”. This means that in the game of romance or relationship, all parties must be vigilant and smart.

A word to a wise person is enough, I would like to stay away from the rest of my defences like mistaken identity etc. However, these defences might be weakened by the court due to the balance of probability of the evidence represented by the prosecutor.

To conclude, when it comes to law there is always hope for the accused until final judgement is given and even after the judgement he or she can seek for review in some jurisdictions if only he or she meets the threshold.

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However, it should serve as an advice or warning to the teaming youth and individuals who have decided not to find a legitimate job or trade to engage in rather than interested in fraudulent acts.

This is because time does not run against the commission of a crime.

The writer is Nana Kwame Mensa-Abrompa Tumanyi

References

The Cornell Law School.

FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed January 28, 2019.

The personal injury blog-Indiana.

The U.S criminal Justice System- Law enforcement news.

The 1992 constitution of Ghana.

The Criminal procedure code 1960 (Act 30).

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