1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Do these count as plot holes?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, Jun 19, 2015.

    I sent the first 10 pages of my story to a proofreader and he said there are three major plot holes so far.

    The first one is, is that they do not explain why the police arrest a suspect at a bar. The suspect is having fun time with her friends, and they come in to arrest her. The reason why I set it in bar was to show how she likes to live the night life, so the scene serves that function, and also her arrest.

    But I was told that this is a plot hole cause when judges sign off on arrest warrants, they need to give authorization on where the person is to be arrested, such as their home. This is so the cops can search the home or cannot, depending. But no judge would put on the warrant that the suspect is to be arrested at a bar she may be at.

    After the arrest, I do not explain why the suspect does not bail her self out. I didn't feel this needed an explanation though. Maybe she couldn't afford to, or the judge considered her a flight risk, etc. I just didn't think it needed an explanation and I only wanted to concentrate on things that did more so, and keep it tight and simple. But he says this is also a major plot hole and that the reader will just throw it down at this point.

    The next one is, is that the suspect's attorney goes to question one of the witnesses. However, when the witness is questioned, she does not have an attorney present. The proofreader says that this also is a major plot hole, as attorneys do not question witnesses with their attorney present. The reason why I wrote it so that she does not have an attorney present, is that I feel the story will kind of drag just a little if he says she should call her attorney to be present before answering any questions.

    Then I got to skip ahead to a new scene later, when the attorney has arrived. Also the witness is probably very busy since she has a life and all, and will probably not call an attorney, which she will probably have to pay, unless the other lawyer is willing, and will have to wait around for the attorney to show up and all.

    It just seems like it's bit of a drag to do that.

    However, if these are plot holes that are big enough that the reader will stop and chuck it as he says, then maybe I really need to rethink these, or explain them in much more detail. But he only read the first few pages and I wonder how many bigger holes there is going to be since it only gets more complicated from there obviously.

    What do you think, do these count as plot holes?
     
  2. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It sounds like your proofreader is nitpicking, then again, I don't know how detailed your story is.

    1) They don't need a warrant to arrest someone with probable cause, if they know the location of the suspect. If they know she's at a bar, they're not going to go wait for her at her house.

    2) From what I've understood, unless a witness asks for their attorney, they can question them. Once they ask for their attorney, the police officer stops questioning, because the witness probably won't answer any further questions.

    3) It seems likely that the attorney wouldn't show up on demand, and it may take an hour or so for them to get there.

    You could easily explain all of that in a sentence or two, if it's that big of a deal. But I'd ask another set of eyes.
     
  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    I could explain it, but I feel I should keep it taut and simple. I mean it's good to explain some things if they advance the story, but explaining these things, just feels like a bit of overexplaining to me. I could do it, but then others may have the opposite reaction and say I explain too much. The proofreader says that an attorney will not question a witness before her courtdate without her attorney present, because this will make her future testimony suspect or problematic. Is that true?
     
  4. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not familiar with that aspect, and I was thinking that you meant a police officer. It's very possible that he's right in that case.
     
  5. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Oh you thought I meant the witness has to have a police officer present, is that it? Also if he is right, well the suspects attorney wants to get the suspect off the case, and set his client free. If he creates a problem in the witness testimony, by speaking to her without a lawyer, and this causes a problem in the witnesses testimony, well then the suspect's attorney will actually be helping his client get off, no?

    So he actually has motive to do it then, no?
     
  6. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    No, I thought you meant that a police officer was questioning a witness without an attorney present. It clearly says "attorney" in your OP, so this was a misread on my part.
     
  7. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Oh okay. Yep that's right. But since it's the attorney's goal to screw up the case, and get his client off of the charges, is compromising the witnesses testimony by speaking to her alone, a plot hole?
     
  8. No-Name Slob
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    Yes, because the case could be thrown out or prolonged if the other party got wind that he/she had already questioned the witness.
     
  9. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    I don't really understand what the problem is with questioning the witness, because you see lawyers do this all the time like in Perry Mason or Law and Order, Boston Legal, etc. However, he says it's a hole, but according the motivations of the character I don't think.
     
  10. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know, honestly. Do you have any lawyer friends you can talk to, or can you spend some time researching it?
     
  11. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Ryan,

    You seem hell-bent on writing a cops and robbers drama.

    My feeling is that you're not "writing what you know", you're writing based on TV, which is not the most reliable source.

    Whenever my daughter, who's a nurse, watches a medical drama with us it takes us twice (at least!) as long to watch it because we have to pause it frequently for her to rant about how WRONG they're doing it! I'm sure that if one of my children was a police officer we'd have the same problem.

    So, it sounds to me as if your reader actually knows the law/legal procedures, and perhaps you should have run the ideas past him/her before committing to the plot. This is not to say you can't get away with it - as you say, "they" do it all the time - but you might upset the legal community. On the other hand, I see this as an opportunity. If you can find some obscure point of legal procedure that one of your characters omits, and the case then gets thrown out because of it, and the twist is this obscure point...
     
  12. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    That's true. However, I was also told by other people that if I were to write a 100% accurate legal drama, that it would be boring, and movies have to take artistic liberties in order to remain entertaining in it's situations. So I felt that I was doing that. I am not saying I can't make it more unrealistic, I just want to make sure it will be still be entertaining and not just to satisfy people in the legal community only.

    I mentioned the obscure point to him but he said that most readers will see it as a flaw and not bother to read on, in order to get that obscure point as a result.

    What if I wrote it so that the suspect's attorney brought another attorney with him, ready to go, when it comes to asking the witness questions? That way the witness does not have to call one and bother to wait till he/she is available. Is that more realistic or is that worse?
     
  13. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Worse.

    If I'm being interviewed by attorney X, whom I suspect of trying to trap me, why would I accept attorney Y, who just "happens" to be accompanying attorney X. No chance of collusion there!

    As far as being strictly accurate...yes, it could be boring. That's why most crime dramas seem to have the cop-on-a-mission being taken off the case and sent home on gardening leave "but we can't tell you what to do on your own time"...and then anything he does gives the police (im)plausible deniability. However, I suspect that what your "other people" are talking about is where the writer goes on and on about following rule X, sub-section II, paragraph 23 of the Act of 2008. THAT's boring. But you can have your MC follow procedure, just don't TELL everybody which procedure he's following.

    Over here we have PACE (Police And Criminal Evidence) rules to govern what's legal and what's not. I would imagine you've got something similar. If your characters complied with that, you won't go far wrong.
     
  14. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. Should I rewrite it though, that the lawyer talks to the witness without any other attorney present for the witness, or can I just leave it as is, and not have to be 100% realistic? I am just not sure where the line is drawn.

    There is also something else he said was unrealistic to the law. Later in court, the witness takes the 5th ammendment, and does not want to testify out of her right to not incriminate herself. The thing is, is that the witness was committing a different crime at the time of the suspect's crime, in which she is testifying to. I was told by someone who knows more about the law than me, that if a witness takes the 5th, she still has to testify legally since she was subpoenaed, but she will receive immunity for the crime. This is how I wanted to write it. She admits the crime she was admitting on the stand, and also admits that she covered up all the evidence, so they won't find anything.

    But she is not charged with it, cause she was given immunity, and they also will not find any evidence to charge her with it later. Now I was told by the proofreader later that that is unrealistic, and that the 5th ammendment only counts, if they are talking about the crime that the case is being tried on. It does not count for a separate crime in which the witness would have committed at the time. But the person familiar with law disagrees. Plus if you read the fifth ammendment it does not say that there is a technicality in that which it only counts if you are discussing the crime in which the case is currently about. It seems that self incrimination applies to any questions asked on the stand, even if it pertains to a different crime in which the cross examining attorney, would have no knowledge of. But that is just how I interpret the law as written.

    The person who knows more about the law is not sure on the witness needing an attorney while being questioned outside of court though. Is their anyone who can tell me more about if these are too big of flaws or not?
     
  15. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    1/ Not being American, I'm no expert on the taking the 5th - my knowledge is based on Perry Mason, and he's way more unreliable than Wiki!

    2/ It sounds as if you've got two different opinions of how the law stands. If you've got reason to believe that one of them knows what they're talking about and the other doesn't, go with it. Otherwise, they cancel out. Go with what you've got. If lawyers don't know if you're right about the law, how will Joe Public?
     
  16. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    That's true but the proofreader, also took law classes he said, and so since they both did, perhaps both are just as educated and still not sure who is more accurate.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not following the problem with the attorney and witness. You don't have to put every event in your story "onscreen". Just as you don't have to show your attorney getting up in the morning, eating his breakfast, and tying his shoes, you don't have to show us all the negotiations that led to the point where the attorney, witness, and witness's attorney are talking. You can just jump there.

    Sample:

    Joe Lawyer nodded. "I'll talk to her. Don't worry, we'll get you out of here."
    Jane Defendant snapped, "You could get that done a little faster. I'm losing business here."
    (End of Chapter)
    --
    (Beginning of Next Chapter)
    "Jane?" said Fred Witness. "The pot dealer?"
    His attorney interjected, "My client is not, of course, acquainted with Ms. Defendant in that context."
    Uh huh. "Of course," said Joe. "But is it true that you were with her at three o'clock Wednesday morning?"
     
  18. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I am not sure what you mean though. The lawyer is still talking to the witness, so what is the difference?
     
  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You lamented that you'd have to have the lawyer call the witness, the witness call a lawyer, the witness might not want to, the lawyer would have to wait, etc., etc., etc., and that would slow the story down.

    How does it slow the story down if NONE of that is shown? Your proofreader's issue was that the witness didn't have a lawyer. In my example, the witness has a lawyer.

    If I'm mis-stating your issue, what is your issue?

    BTW, do you know how to quote? It's often hard to tell who you're responding to.
     
  20. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Sorry I tried quoting before but it didn't work last time I hit it. I meant you ChickenFreak. The thing is about my story, is that a cop is walking the witness out of the police station, back to his car to drive her home. It is during this that the lawyer comes and introduces himself and says he just wants to ask her a couple of quick questions. She agrees and the cop steps away but still keeps close watch just in case. During this, she says something about what happened, that causes the cop to suspect she may have committed a crime herself, or there is something suspicious about her now. So after overhearing he decides to follow up on what she said.

    Now if I write it so that she calls her lawyer, and the have an official type of meeting over it, there probably will not want the cop anywhere near the conversation, and I need it to be set in a scenario where the cop can overhear it. Just so long as he still can, otherwise he will not be able to pick on anything to figure out that she is worth investigating.'

    I tried clicking quote again under your last response ChickenFreak, and still no quotes come up after.
     
  21. james82
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    james82 Member

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    Well, I have an incident in my current story in which a character, or a student for that matter,
    gets arrested at the school he attends. The cops actually escort him out in handcuffs at a time when
    school just got out and both the junior and senior class, kids waiting for buses, getting on buses,
    kids shuffling to the parkling lot to leave the premesis of the school, etc.. all pause to witness
    this character being placed in a police cruiser. I hope that's more realistic than your scenario.
     
  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the witness is the lawyer-up type, why isn't her lawyer accompanying her out of the police station?
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Click Reply on the post that you're responding to.
     
  24. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's another thread where a poster says he studied business at college, so he knows all about how business works. I've worked in business for fifty years. Who do you believe about something to do with business?

    I've also studied law. I'm NOT an authority on it.

    Click quote, then when you reach the point where you want to quote it, look for the "Insert Quotes" button, bottom left.
     
  25. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. But when I click insert quotes the box that appears is blank and there are no quotes in it. Perhaps it's just a fluke or something?

    ChickenFreak, you asked why doesn't the witness exit the police station with her lawyer. Since she is a witness, she figures she does not need a lawyer. I mean all she is doing is saying what happened, so she doesn't figure it's worth paying a lawyer to come down to the station for unless she is charged with something. So this is why she does not have one, and is escorted out by an officer instead.
     

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