The Chilean criminal justice system favors criminals more than victims, period, except in cases of egregious violent crime or massive scams. Even those crimes go unpunished if perpetrated by disgruntled Mapuche Indians in the south or a Leftist activist with bombs or gun violence against the Right. Remember that Chile is by far the world leader in theft crimes and the great majority of them go unnoticed and are not prosecuted. There are simply not enough district attorneys (fiscales) and insufficient prison space.
If the amount of your loss from a scam or theft is lower than USD10,000 or perhaps more, and there was no violence involved, you can forget about getting any justice. I have not only heard this from lawyers, two fiscales have told me straight up in their offices. Apparently a fiscal is a very good lawyer but his hands are tied by very few resources and a leftist set of justices and laws that let criminals get of Scot free. He has so many cases that he can hardly handle them.
For one thing, there is not enough jail space for the amount of delinquents in Chile. Criminals, especially first time offenders, are usually not going to get a five-year or longer prison sentence which is required to be sent to jail. Instead they will get 41 or 61 days with an ankle bracelet and confined to home at night. They get to go out for work during the day. That is obviously not much of a disincentive to commit crimes. They steal and get caught every now and then. Those ‘getting caught times’ just provide needed family time in the evenings for a couple months before the criminal goes back to practicing his trade.
I spoke to the criminal that washes my car. He does not worry about being a delinquent. He burglarized a house and was arrested in 2015. The cops do a fair job but their work is often left in vain. This man, somewhat retarded and the bastard son of an influential judge in Valparaíso, disappeared for several weeks. I asked his associates where he had gone and they told me that he would be locked up for years for participating in a big-time burglary. Then the guy suddenly appeared. His father got him off by threatening to claim abuse by authorities in dealing with a person with a mental deficiency. A letter that would make a scene. My car washer told me lots of details proudly and boldly, and he said that he is un-convictable in Chile. He might be right.
Speaking of cars, my crew boss had his car stolen in downtown Viña del Mar in early 2016. The cops did little more than take a report and then, a couple weeks later, found the shell of the car stripped of all it wheels, motor and parts–all obviously resold and untraceable. It was dumped in a remote area of the hills above Viña del Mar. My foreman has no hope of getting justice for his loss and just takes it in stride, concluding that the law favors criminal more than victims. In Chile, it pays to buy car insurance because there is no other way to have a shot of getting your money back again for your car, if stolen.
The same is true you hire someone. It they complain or sue you for something you will likely have to pay them, sometimes thousands of dollars, since courts will likely side with “poor” workers against “rich” employers. The leftist bias is disgusting. Maids will sue you. Be careful. Maestros and other day laborers will, too. They have a special government agency (CIT) that hires a lawyer for them and takes their case up against you. You have to hire a lawyer. The wicked employee knows that if the amount is low enough it will make more sense for you to pay instead of paying more for a lawyer and also risking losing in court, too. It is terrible.
You might not even get to tell your full story beyond the summary you give to the police. The fiscal assigned to your case might hear the criminal’s response and just close the case, even if the criminal uses falsified documents or lies to clear their name. You will come to the hearing only to find that the case is being closed and the criminal can never again be charged for the crime. You will be screwed. The judge will tell you that you can go hire an attorney for a couple thousand dollars to file a querrella (civil and criminal complaint) and keep things going, but if you did not lose over a couple thousand it hardly seems worth it. You will come away with the feeling that the libertarian anarchists are right: justice by the state hardly exists and thus why should we have it? Better to rely on market forces. Although imperfect they will probably do better than the state does and lots of taxes will be saved. Whoever said that prisons a good thing anyway? Some penitent Quakers? Why not just enslave these criminals and make them work off their debts?
Thus, in Chile you have no legal backstop. You have to rely on more scrupulous judgment in deal-making and in protecting your assets. You will not likely be raped or murdered in Chile, although both things happen, but you will very likely be a victim of robbery, burglary, labor complaint or a scam. So be careful, and be prepared. Businesses build-in legal losses to their budgets. They have to do so. It may be sickening but it is true, so get over it and learn to cope.
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