Your missing the point here, in the state of GA, had she told the TRUTH, she would not have had to deal with a FELONY charges or the BILL for her search. Everyone who participated in that search, and people who followed this story were very happy that she was ok. It has happened where people run away or take off and not realize that people that they left behind are looking for them. All Ms. Willbanks had to do was tell the truth. Who paid for that 3 ring circus? The TAXPAYERS.
She incurred both by LYING. As far as charging for search/rescue, did you know that YES the Coast Guard has the right to bill you for those services? In some areas, they do charge the ice fishermen who get stuck on the ice floes.
It doesn't matter who pays. If she hasn't done something illegal or for which she can be held liable. A person has the right to go wherever she wants. If the government authorities choose to expend resources on the possibility that she might be in trouble, as opposed to just having cold feet, that is a judgment those authorities choose to make. Unless she did something to cause the authorities to take those actions, such as by leaving a fake ransom note, there is no legal theory under which she can be held liable. That is why, until she committed an affirmative act of fraud by stating she had been kidnapped, she did not commit any act to incur liability.
I could look next door and see that my neighbor hasn't shown up in a while. I could choose to spend a lot of money looking for my neighbor, fearing she was hurt. If my neighbor showed up a week later having been on vacation without telling me, should she have to pay me just because I paid for the search? No. My neighbor had no duty to tell me where she was, and without a duty, legally, there can be no liability.
As I said, I have no problem with charging her for expenses incurred after she lied about being kidnapped. But before she lied, she had not said anything to mislead anyone into thinking she was in trouble. She just left, as she had the right to do. Until she lied, she didn't do anything to incur liability.
I don't know about ice floes, but, in those cases, the fisherman really were in trouble and the Coast Guard knew it. In this case, the lady wasn't in any trouble, and didn't do anything to make anyone think she was in trouble until she called her FH and lied about being kidnapped. That is when she committed the wrong for which she can be held liable, not before. Otherwise, we are saying that an adult has a duty to tell people before she leaves her home or else she can be held liable if the government chooses to mount an extended search for her. I don't like giving the government that kind of control over our lives.
Scarlett - you're missing the entire point here! The runaway bride knew people would think something terrible had happened to her if she took off without telling anyone. If it is out of character for a person to up and leave then the police generally rule them missing after x number of hours. While you're right that a grown person has the right to go anywhere anytime without telling someone, you have to take into consideration the past behaviours of that person. Besides, what if you were kidnapped and everyone just assumed you'd just taken off for a bit and didn't bother to look for you - how would you feel? You have to take everything into consideration, and people have to use common sense - something made people believe she'd left under suspicous circumstances - whether she lied at first or not. You can lie without actually saying a word.
Another thing - she did get off way too easy. What if someone you knew went missing at the same time but all available resources were diverted to the runaway bride's case and then you found out that it was all al ie - meanwhile your loved one is still missing (or worse)!
No, really, I think you are missing the point. I do not know whether this girl knew people would think something terrible would happen to her, but I do not feel comfortable with the Government saying, O.K., you, Bob, who have no family or friends, you can go wherever you want whenever you want and don't have to tell anyone, but you, Jennifer, because you have family and friends, you are denied the freedom to go when you want when you please without telling anyone. If you have anyone who might worry about you when you leave, the Government imposes on you a duty to tell them.
As for me, I believe the proper policy is this: if you have reason to believe someone is in trouble, search for them, but recognize that you might be wrong, and, because we value personal freedom in this country, we will not attempt to impose a duty on an adult to tell someone where they are going, so that, if you are wrong, and they are fine, you cannot recoup your expenses. However, if a person lies about being kidnapped, raped, etc., then they can be held liable for any expenses incurred in reliance on that lie.
The Government has to make a choice--spend money on all missing persons, understanding that some may not be in trouble, spend money on no missing persons, or make a reasonable determination whether someone is in trouble, understanding that, unless they have fraudulent indicated that they are in trouble, the mere fact of their leaving without telling anyone is not enough to charge them with the expense of a search.
While Jennifer Wilbanks's behavior was inexcusable, I've got to feel a little bit sorry for her. I mean, what if you woke up one day and realized that everything you were doing was wrong--that you weren't being true to yourself. You'd freak out! And this is what I believe happened to her. She thought "what have I gotten myself into?" She didn't want to disappoint her family, her fiance, her future in-laws, or the 600+ guests who were attending the wedding. But she also didn't want to be stuck in a lifetime commitment that she had realized was wrong for her. This extreme anxiety and confusion can cause people to do some crazy things, and I daresay that many people have acted out in ways far worse than running away.
That said, I certainly don't agree with how she behaved. It was childish and inexcusable, and an embarrassment to brides everywhere. However, I think we should have some compassion for the runaway bride. She's already been ridiculed all over national television, and she has been punished. Whether or not we agree with the court's decision, I don't think that ridiculing her here is the nice thing to do.
That is a good point Scarlett, however, had Ms. Willbanks told the truth, I needed to get away, no charges would have been filed, and no one would have sought reimbursement for costs. Just everyone would have been relieved that she was ok. Then she could have dealt with her mental issues in private with her fiancee and friends/family w/out dragging the tele-tabloids into it.
I hope you're right, and I completely agree with charging her for any expenses incurred on the basis of her lying. I was just concerned, when this incident happened, that we might be setting a precedent that could be taken too far if she was charged for any expenses that were incurred prior to her lying to her FH. Do I think she had a moral obligation to tell her family that she was o.k.? Absolutely. I just got a little uncomfortable at the thought that the next runaway bride might be required by the Government to pay for search expenses, even if she didn't call up her FH and lie, simply on the basis that she left without telling anyone.
If you wake up one morning and realize if I marry this man, its going to be the biggest mistake of my life, then TALK TO SOMEONE! SO she got a case of I have to get out of here and think, there is nothing wrong with that or against the law. Lying about it was the crime, and for that I have no sympathy for her whatsoever.
Well, I thought I'd get back to the original question, "...how many brides-to-be have had second thoughts..." I think we will all at one point ask ourselves "I am sure this is what I want to do!?" I know for some of us it may be a fleeting thought, but for others it will consume all thoughts. Personally, I am excited to spend my life with my FH, but I have second thoughts about taking on all of his baggage. It doesn't change how I feel about him, but it does make me question if I am strong enough to deal with his ex for the rest of our lives (they have a kid together). I think that we need to talk about those second thoughts, not judge each other, and let one more little stress go.
ummmm ..., sorry scarlett, but i think you guys forgot to read the whole story!!!! the thing is she was simply declared a missing person... no biggie. it was after she called from a payphone to 911 that the problem began. here is an excerpt from CNN of what actually happened.
The 32-year-old woman, missing since Tuesday, called fiance John Mason from an Albuquerque 7-Eleven convenience store before dawn Saturday, and he kept her on the line long enough for police there to trace the call.
"I was crying, I was laughing, I was trying to stay calm to talk to her to keep her calm," Mason said.
The bride-to-be also called 911 and reported she had been kidnapped near her home and driven more than 1,000 miles to New Mexico.
"I've got my family and police on the phone," she told the dispatcher. "I was kidnapped from Atlanta, Georgia. My parents said it's been on the news. I don't know."
But it took only a few hours of questioning for authorities to learn the truth: Wilbanks left on her own, just before her wedding, which included 14 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen. A reception was planned at the swank Atlanta Athletic Club.
while i agree, she should be able to go where she wants when she wants, she should NOT be allowed to make fake calls to 911. just like people shouldnt be allowed to falsely accuse people of harrassment and rape, which she did. racial tension was exacerbated around her home town because jennifer accused an "hispanic" man of molesting her with his girlfriend. the bottom line is rape, harrasment and kidnapping are serious accusations. often people do not respond to someone screaming "help" because as a society we have become immune to these words. "wolf criers", such as this woman, help foder this immunity. There are real victims whose stories need to be heard and need to be listened too, and THAT is why i think jennifer wilbanks deserves to have the book thrown at her.
dont take this post personally. just wanted to give you a different perspective. sometimes we forget all the details, especially when so much time has gone by i just feel like she did a lot more that JUST run away. thanks for hearing me out.
Jgorczy, I agree that making up a "Hispanic man" who molested her was totally out of line, and there's no excuse for that. I'm just saying, as the op suggested, that we've all had second thoughts to some degree. Unfortunately for Jennifer Wilbanks, her second thoughts were taken to the extreme and caused a national media frenzy. But we can feel her pain, to some degree, even though (hopefully) none of us would act out in such a manner.