Should Wilbanks Be Prosecuted?

Last week's search for runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks cost her hometown of Duluth, Ga., at least $60,000, officials estimate, and could land her in legal hot water.

Her embarrassed fiancé says he forgives her, but the local district attorney says he's still deciding whether to file charges.

Possible counts include the false reporting of a crime, which is a misdemeanor, and making false statements, a felony, says Gwinett County (Ga.) District Attorney Daniel Porter.

But, should Wilbanks be prosecuted?

Co-anchor Hannah Storm heard opposite views on The Early Show Tuesday.

And CBSNews.com wants to know what you think. Cast your vote on this page.

Defense attorney Gloria Allred asked rhetorically, "Do I think she should be prosecuted and convicted and, what? Sentenced to 20 years of marriage as a punishment? No! I think that that's over the top.

"I think that this is a person who could voluntarily pay back law enforcement for the costs of the search. And I think that she should do so. But she doesn't have to be prosecuted and convicted to make her pay. She could just choose to do that.

"Do I think she is a danger to the community? Is there going to be an epidemic of runaway brides if she's not prosecuted? Of course not.

"She's been punished enough. She's been humiliated in front of her family and her friends. She had to come back and walk through an aisle of an airport with a blanket over her head instead of walking down the aisle with a bride's veil. I think she's been punished enough."

CBS News legal analyst Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor, told Storm she would prosecute Wilbanks: "She caused a great deal of harm. When people do bad things and cause a lot of harm in society, they're supposed to be punished. I realize she deserves some sympathy as well. She may have mental health issues, but that doesn't mean she gets a free pass.

"She not only cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, she diverted precious law enforcement resources, which means cops weren't out there solving real crimes. And frankly, she caused her fiance a great deal of scorn and suspicion. I had the guy drawn and quartered. And that's her fault.
  • Christine Lagorio

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