1. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Can the FBI un-arrest someone?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Imaginarily, Oct 25, 2015.

    Apologies if there is already a thread addressing this question -- please feel free to link it if it exists. :-D Also, should this be in Setting Development? Mods?

    Google is not being very helpful with this one. :wtf:

    Let's pretend an undercover FBI agent gets arrested by regular cops for Really Bad Stuff (TM), like the kind of Stuff that would certainly get you life in prison.

    Since Really Bad Stuff (TM) would have been approved and facilitated by the FBI beforehand, would they have the realistic authority to set that person free again? Is there an appeal process of some kind? Can the FBI people just call the police/jail and be like "Hey we knew about this and we're fine with it, we need them to be undercover-ing, okay?"

    I have no idea how the legal system in my own country works. :whistle: Hooray for public education!
     
  2. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It worked just fine for Paul Walker's character.
     
  3. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Do you mean in The Fast and the Furious movie(s)? I have aggressively avoided contact with that franchise, can you be more specific? i.e., which one(s) do I need to torture myself with watching?
     
  4. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just the first half hour of the first one.
     
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  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Cops arrest, including FBI agents. They can tell you what they are arresting you for but technically you are not charged until the prosecutors charge you and the judge arraigns you.

    Cop arrests you for X and presents the evidence to a prosecutor (sometimes they present the evidence to the prosecutor first but not always).
    Prosecutor charges you for X (or sometimes Y).
    Prosecutor takes the case to a judge who agrees to arraign you on the charges the prosecutor charged you with.

    So the FBI agents can let you go without presenting evidence to the prosecutor. I'm not sure if there would be consequences for that, but if it was a really bad crime with very good evidence, I suspect there might be.
     
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  6. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Thanks @GingerCoffee

    What sort of consequences are you talking about here?
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    Well I suppose that depends on your story. If you have someone in custody there are going to be multiple people involved. Is this a consensus to let the suspect go, or a single agent who is sneaking him out the back door? Does someone need to lose the arrest record along with the suspect?
     
  8. Imaginarily
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    A single FBI agent (kinda high up in the ranks, with connections) trying to get someone out as quietly as possible.

    Arrest record can stay intact, I suppose.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    I'd say have him sneak the arrest record out. If he leaves it there people are going to see it and ask questions. It's not like you file the report in your own file cabinet. Think red tape, there is a process.

    You have to ask who else knows the guy was arrested and who else knows he was let go? There will be a chain of command.
     
  10. Imaginarily
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    o_O Why did I think the arrest record wouldn't be a paper document?

    Anyway.

    People who know about the arrest:
    • the person who alerted the police in the first place
    • officers at the scene (why do I suspect an MIB-style memory-nuke?)
    • I guess whatever chain of command is involved with processing that kind of thing?
    • arrested agent's direct supervisor

    People who know about the release:
    • arrested agent's direct supervisor
    • whoever would be holding the keys to the jail cell (both physically and metaphorically)
      • I'm sure there must be a chain of command here, too?
     
  11. Imaginarily
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    I watched the entire movie, and all I saw was a fake arrest for "realism," to solidify the undercover guy's disguise.

    What I'm asking about is a real arrest for real crimes, which would put the character in real jail for a real long time.

    edit to add: I'm watching it again just to make sure I didn't miss anything.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2015
  12. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    But aren't you glad you got to watch Fast and Furious? :)
     
  13. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Look, it's possible I made a mistake and the arrest was fake. I'm very sorry if that's the case.
     
  14. Imaginarily
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    I think you and I have different definitions for the word "glad." :wtf:
     
  15. Imaginarily
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    Eh, don't worry about it. Research is still beneficial, knowledge is power etc.
     
  16. psychotick
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    Hi,

    You have to go through the entire arrest process. First it's the police who make the arrest. But they don't make the decision to prosecute - that's the DA. So that would be the first stop on the road to getting your guy unarrested.

    Assuming he's been caught red handed and the crime is severe, if the guy needs to be out then the FBI would need to get in touch with the DA's office. At which point the arrest sheet could be forgotten based on certain alleged grounds. Evidence contaminated / fruit of the poisoned branch / officer failed to read suspect his rights etc etc. If any of these could be shown then the prosecution would be in doubt and the DA would release in many cases. If they're not shown but the DA is convinced that release would be in the national interest etc, then they might use that as an excuse to explain the release.

    But it would not be simply the agent's superviser who would do the persuading. It would be someone much higher up in the FBI.

    If the DA refuses and wants the arrested party to be charged, the FBI would have to go higher up. The state governor perhaps - remember DA is an elected position and often they are sponsored by and to support a governor. So if a DA gets in trouble it reflects badly on the governor.

    That's my limited understanding of the American legal system, speaking as a kiwi.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  17. Imaginarily
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    @psychotick Sounds legit to me. :-D Thank you!

    :write:
     
  18. Mallett
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    Mallett New Member

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    Sorry, but what is a DA?
     
  19. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    District Attorney, if I'm not mistaken.
     
  20. Imaginarily
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    Yup.
     
  21. Ozzy
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    Did this arrest happen WHILE they were breaking the law or afterwards? Were they caught in the act?
    That changes HOW the arrest happens. Also, the reports are never just 'thrown out', there is always a record, even if no charges are filed or if the grand jury chooses NOT to indict. Also, is it a federal/state/county/city crime? There is basically the same process, but there are some differences, especially depending on the size of the jurisdiction.
     
  22. Imaginarily
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    Caught red-handed by a civilian. Civilian calls police, wee woo sirens, cuffs I guess?

    And, I don't know exactly. Let's start from the bottom and work up, regarding size of jurisdiction.
     
  23. Ozzy
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    According to the American Bar Association, the simplest way to do the release it to just have your character released before he's booked. He can be held for up to (I believe) 24 hours before being charged. If you have the simple story of him flipping on his partners in crime, he could be released easily. Since he's undercover, and being released, that job would be over for him, so the retaliation for flipping wouldn't be a problem. As far as who knows, that would be the arresting officer, the clerks, the guy in charge of keeping an eye on prisoners, probably the captain, and most likely a lot of the other officers/detectives in the station, since it really doesn't happen as often as tv shows
     
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  24. Ryan Elder
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    What about the prosecutor though? Even if the officers in the station arrange for the arrested person to be let go, wouldn't the prosecutor eventually say, "Hey, what happened to that officer I put out a warrant for arresting, did you find him yet?" This would imply that the prosecutor is still expecting it to happen, since they make calls on who is to be arrested, especially if it's a cop who is the crook. Or does the prosecutor not know about this arrest yet, since the arrest was the police departments call, hoping to present it to a prosecutor first for some reason?
     
  25. Ozzy
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    If it was a 'caught in the act' situation, the prosecutor wouldn't know until the station called him/her in. By that point, the FBI dude (his boss or whatever), would have probably gotten a hold of the prosecutor, or anyone else high enough up to tell them to let him walk. There would still be a paper trail, and the DA would have to make the show of okay-ing the release, but since he's a federal officer, and was undercover, they'd have to let them go. A day or two later, some FBI lackey (for loss of a better term) would take all their files and go over the undercover operation (unless it's classified). Also, a lot of the time, the DA isn't called in after hours, because they can't really do much while the courts are closed, and they aren't actually there all the time (again, tv ruined that for us)
     
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