1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Does anyone know how police laws work in this scenario?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Ryan Elder, Nov 7, 2015.

    For my story, the main character, a cop, has a personal grudge, against the leader of a gang but does know he is is. Just a mystery man who got away with his crimes. The MC blackmails a parolee, who was a computer hacker in his criminal days, and gets him to hack into one of the gang members personal information and banking. From there, he follows a money trail, leading up to the leader, and from there, he finds out who the leader is.

    He starts tailing the leader to see if the leader will give him any leads or angles he can use to build a case. However, while following him the leader commits murder and gets away with it, because the one witness, the MC found him through computer hacking so his testimony as a witness is not admissible in court, so he does not report it, knowing that. The leader also wore gloves when committing the murder, and any DNA found, is not on file, so the only evidence they have is tainted testimony.

    Now this is where it gets tricky, because the MC needs to come up with a new strategy to get evidence on the leader. Now in most stories, that deal with this scenario, a piece of evidence is tainted, and as a result, the villain walks. It's up to the MC to then get NEW evidence.

    But in my story's case, it's different because since the leader's identity was discovered through illegal computer hacking, the villain himself is tainted therefore. When the villain is entirely tainted himself, how can the MC untaint him? Because it seems that legally any new evidence, the MC gets will not matter, since the suspect himself is tainted.

    What do you think? Is their a legal way the MC can get around that? Thank you for any advice. I appreciate it :).
     
  2. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    He needs to talk to the police and set up a sting.
     
  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks, but I asked cops about that one already and they said that that wouldn't work. The police are not allowed to set up a sting on a suspect, if the suspect was discovered by illegal computer hacking. The suspect has to be discovered by legal legitimate means for a sting to be admissible in court later.
     
  4. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    1. Entrapment? Yeah. Ok, can he turn informant?
     
  5. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    The villain? I am not sure if a villain can turn informant if the informant was discovered by illegal hacking. I think it would work if he turned informant on his own, without the police going to him. But then it's not really a challenge for the hero, if the villain he is after, just gives up all the goodies himself though, necessarily. It's kind of like the MC gets a freebie, but maybe that's okay?
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Is this set in the U.S.? I'm not sure the cop's witnessing of the murder would be excluded.
     
  7. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Yes it's in the U.S. But I asked three cops in my researh and they all said that if a cop commits illegal hacking, that the testimony of the cop cannot be used, if the cop witnesses the murder... because the murderer was discovered through multiple felonies, such as hacking and blackmailing the hacker. The witness's testimony is "Fruit of the poisonous tree", as the term goes, and cannot be used. However, the MC cannot do anything to get the suspect now, because the suspect himself is fruit of the poisonous tree, since he was discovered through the cop committing felonies. If someone else witnesses the cop committing a crime, they can get him. However, for my story, I want it to be up to the MC to get him, but I was told that if the MC witnesses him do something, it cannot be used in court now, because he forever tainted himself as a witness, as long as he is investigating the villain himself. And no other cops would be a allowed to help him, based on the fact that he got information from a computer hacking.

    This is what three cops told me anyway, so I am going by what they said.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  8. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    You need the MC to gather enough information that makes investigation into the ringleader plausible, independent of any unconstitutionally obtained information. Based on what you said, I can't think of anything, but you might be the best person to answer this question.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @Ryan Elder there are all kinds of exceptions to the exclusionary rule, including exceptions that have been found when the police witness a separate crime from what the illegal evidence was being gathered for.
     
  10. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    A quick google search shows two exceptions to fruit of the poisonous tree that you could use:

    "Illegally seized evidence is, for the most part, inadmissible in criminal trials [...]But there are exceptions [...] What would be inadmissible evidence can sometimes come in at trial to impeach the testimony of a defendant who chose to testify. In that way, the government’s hands aren’t tied if it has evidence—albeit illegally obtained—that the defendant has lied on the witness stand. (This is the rule under the U.S. Constitution—states are free, though often unwilling, to make it tougher for the government to get illegally seized evidence into court.)

    "If discovery of the evidence was "inevitable", the evidence may be admitted, as it was not then the illegal search that caused the evidence to be found. “Inevitable” is a strong word, and in order to admit evidence under this exception, a court must find that police would have discovered the evidence whether or not they conducted the unreasonable search."

    This is a case where google is your friend. A lot of the questions you've posted on this forum can be sufficiently answered through putting in the time to research it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  11. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks, but google has not been as technical as the police explained it. However, the police are not writers. When I ask them how the evidence could be untainted, they said they didn't know, and it seems that as long as the MC was after them, it would be forever, tainted since the MC tainted himself as a witness. If the MC tainted himself, is he out of the game, or can he somehow come out on top still? I cannot find google how a witness can untaint himself in this case.

    The police can witness a separate crime, but if I don't want them to, and want the MC to be one to get the villains, I will have to come up with a way for it to still legally work.

    What he could do perhaps is arrange for the villain to commit another felony, and then get other officers to witness it intentionally. This way the other officers can then have something to legally go own, if he commits a crime that leaves evidence in someone else's presence, other than the MC.

    The MC would then have to figure out how to get him to commit another crime though.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  12. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If good google searches can't find a how a witness can un-taint himself, then it might be impossible.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Re: "because the one witness, the MC found him through computer hacking so his testimony as a witness is not admissible in court"

    I very strongly doubt that this is true. The murder was not "discovered" by the hacking, the initial suspicion of other crimes was sparked by the hacking. I very much doubt that the villain can now commit any and all crimes, willy-nilly, and that the MC can never, ever, ever testify against him, no matter what.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also, you could just change the illegal hacking and have the cop learn the villain's identity in some other, legal way.
     
  15. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well the point is, is that I want the villain to get away with murder. Then the MC has to try again. If the villain is caught now, the story will be over way too soon. But I want the villain to get away with it, until the end, where he can be caught then. So the reason why I used the hacker idea, was for him to get away with it. But now that the MC needs to try again, he needs to figure out how to legally untaint himself.

    I was told by the police though, that the villain is able to get away with this particular murder, cause the MC failed to stop him in time, and then villain didn't leave behind enough physical evidence. The only evidence putting him there, is the MC's testimony, which is tainted and inadmissible.

    The villain cannot get away with murder will nilly of course, he has just gotten away with it this one time.

    So now the MC wants to get him, but since he is tainted, I need to figure out how he can untaint himself in order to get him. He can get him, it's just his testimony cannot be used since he found the guy through hacking. If the MC goes to a bar for example for some drinks, and the villain coincidentally goes there, and commits a crime, the MC can get him then, cause it was a coincidence, and the MC was not following him. That's just an example.

    But now the MC has to get him without tailing him or investigating him since it all goes back to fruit of the poisonous tree. The MC has to get him, either by accidental coincidence, or by placing evidence of the villains' crime in someone else's hands, without that person knowing, so another person, can get use the evidence. That's two ways.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are a thousand OTHER ways for the villain to get away with murder. You're wedded to this messy, unlikely plot element. Release it and figure out something else.
     
  17. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    The cops told me that this even though the murder did not happen by the hacking, it still cannot be used because it the witnesses reason for being there, still goes back to the hacking. This is what the cops tole me. If it's true, I would like to use it, to have the villain's get away with murder, since it legally works. There is no reason to throw it away, if it's true, as the cops said. But the cops could not think of a way they could get the witness to untaint himself.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2015
  18. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's plenty of reason to throw it away. This whole THREAD is about the reason for throwing it away. You don't want your MC to be "tainted". That's a good reason for throwing away the plot element that MAKES HIM TAINTED.
     
  19. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Him being tainted actually serves the plot because it allows the villain to get away with murder, which is what I want. I am just asking how to untaint him. Him being tainted is good, I just need to untaint him now.
     
  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Therefore, him being tainted is not good.

    1) You want the villain to get away with murder.
    2) There are a thousand ways for the villain to get away with murder.
    3) You don't want the MC's evidence to be tainted.
    4) Of the thousand ways for the villain to get away with murder, you choose the one that makes the MC's evidence tainted.
    5) Then you ask us how to make the MC's evidence un-tainted.

    What?

    1) You want a birthday cake.
    2) There are a thousand kinds of birthday cakes.
    3) You are allergic to lemon.
    4) Of the thousand kinds of cakes that are there out there, you choose a lemon cake.
    5) Then you ask us how to make the cake un-lemon. You say "A lemon cake actually serves the party because it allows us to eat cake, which is what I want. I am just asking how to un-lemon the cake. The lemon cake is good, I just need to un-lemon it now."

    Why didn't you just choose a chocolate cake?

    Why didn't you just choose a way for the villain to get away with murder, that doesn't involve the MC's evidence being tainted?
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm going to expand this a little more.

    It seems as if you feel that because your first idea for the villain getting away with murder involved the MC being tainted, that those two ideas must forever be linked. But they don't have to be linked. Just as the fact that your first idea for a birthday cake was lemon doesn't mean that "cake" and "lemon" must forever be linked.

    You can separate two ideas. You can have lemon cake, but instead you can have chocolate cake, or plum cake, or raspberry cake, or butterscotch cake. You can have your villain get away with murder because of the exclusionary rule, but instead you can have him get away with it because of a laboratory error, or you can have him get away with it because of a bribed witness, 0r you can have him get away with it because of plain old reasonable doubt.

    Cakes do not have to be lemon.
    Not-guilty verdicts do not have to be about the exclusionary rule.
    Your first idea does not have to be the only idea.
     
  22. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    That's true. However, I wanted the MC to see the murder being committed and be there. This is part of his frustration that he couldn't do anything about it, even after the victim was killed. Is their a way for him to be surveying the villain, and witness the murder, and the villain can still get away with legally?
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    He could have that same frustration if he anticipated the murder, he knew the victim, he wanted to prevent the murder, the murder happened WITHOUT him as a witness, but the evidence went wrong or wasn't enough to convict the villain. I don't think he has to SEE the murder.

    Him seeing the murder and the murderer getting off has too many unlikely elements anyway. I'm not the least bit confident that the illegal hacking about crime X would make his eyewitness testimony about crime Y inadmissible. And if he witnessed crime Y, why didn't he stop it? And why does he have to admit to the illegal hacking; why can't he come up with some story about why he was there as a witness? It's all just too unlikely.

    Pick another cake flavor. Find another way for the villain to get off.
     
  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    For that matter, he can see the murder, and a good defense attorney can put doubt on his identification.

    This is a problem that you keep having. You need a very simple outcome, and you build a wildly elaborate scenario to explain it. What could be explained with a good defense attorney, and maybe low light or your MC not wearing his contact lenses that night or something, you handle with illegal hacking, a murdered hacker, evidence excluded...

    It's as if you need the MC to find a quarter to make a phone call, and you decide that the quarter was left by time-travelling aliens from the planet Krypton, and you ask if the traces of Kryptonite on the quarter would prevent the phone from working normally and if the visit from the alien might successfully be excluded from the newspaper by a corrupt vice mayor, and if the courts will allow the mayor to exercise prior restraint on the newspaper based on declaring a state of emergency, and....

    Just have him find a bleeping quarter under the seat of his car!

    Just have a defense attorney do his bleeping job!
     
  25. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    He tries to stop the murder but fails cause he couldn't stop it in time. I am going to by what three cops, and a legal person in the field, which I just asked today, told me. They all said that if the witness found the suspect's identity through hacking, the testimony is tainted. So I am just going by what they all said.

    I will come up with another way, but if I do, it will likely be the same thing where you say I overcomplicate it. I don't mean to overcomplicate the plot. In fact, I thought that the whole blackmailing of the hacker scenario was quite simple. Do I have to have it go to court though? I didn't want to write it out that it goes to court, because then the characters have to wait for that, and deal with it. I have to bring in new characteers, such as a defense attorney as well.

    I would like to write it so that the villain gets off, by the prosecutor deciding the evidence is no good and not taking it to trial at all. Well I will think of something. Here is a lesson that I need to learn though. How come all my scenarios are overcomplicated? What I am doing that makes them so complicated? I mean if I want something specific to happen in the story, I just think and try to do research and come up with a way it can plausibly happen. Whatever way I come up with, is the way I feel it could happen. But what am I doing particularly that is making my scenarios too complicated?

    I could write it so that the MC is surveying the villain legitimately and discovered his identity legitimately... but it doesn't feel write for the themes of the story, if the villain was to get off, because the MC forgot to bring his contacts, or something like that.

    I mean if you take a thriller story like the movie Dirty Harry for example, Harry entered the villain's house without a warrant, and found the rifle that was used in the previous murders. They police could not legally link the rifle to the villain, cause Harry entered without a search warrant, and broke the law, therefore.

    The theme being that Harry feels frustrated cause he feels he had to break the law to find the evidence , and therefore the evidence was no good.

    I wanted to explore a similar theme here. If they wrote it so that Harry did legally get a search warrant, but the warrant got accidentally destroyed on the way over, it just doesn't have that same theme, that works for that type of story, if that makes sense.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2015

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