1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Does this ending option make sense?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, Sep 21, 2015.

    I am trying to come up with a new ending for my story, and I would like to hear if you think my villain or main character would do this.

    Basically the MC is a cop who wants to find proof on the villain and investigates the villain on his own time, after the villain is found not guilty in court for his past crimes. After monitoring the villain for a few weeks and getting nowhere, the MC decides to break into his house and finds a safe. He breaks into the safe, and finds evidence that can be used, in other crimes, so the double jeopardy law does not apply because the evidence pertains to other crimes.

    After the MC breaks into the safe though, a silent alarm is triggered that calls the villains sell phone. The villain rushes back to his house and intercepts the MC as he is examining the evidence in the safe. A shootout starts, and people who hear the shots from afar, call the cops. The MC ends up not escaping with the evidence and leaving the evidence behind as he escapes.

    The villain knows that the cops have been called likely, so he puts the evidence back in the safe and locks it before they get there. He reports a break in, saying it was an armed man and acting aloof, like he doesn't know anything more.

    Since the MC is guilty of breaking and entering, the evidence cannot be used of course, and the cops have no legal grounds to search the man's safe. The MC's superiors find out about it and fire him for what he did. The villain cannot go back to the residence to get his stuff out of the safe, without being seen now, though cause the place is now a crime scene and can very likely be watched. So he has to leave it there, hoping the cops will not get a warrant to search it.

    Later on in the plot in climax, the MC goes back to the residence, and busts open the safe again. This alerts the villain again, but this time the MC gets the cops their ahead of time to catch the villain. Now when I did legal research before, evidence cannot be admissible in court, if the cop had to commit breaking and entering to get it there obviously, because then it's tainted. However, if a civilian breaks and enters, they are allowed to use the evidence legally I was told, because civilians don't need warrants, but they can still be charged with breaking and entering of course.

    Now that the cop is a civilian since he was fired, him breaking into the safe, and getting the cops there, ahead of time, makes the evidence admissible. Plus if the cops get there while the safe is still open, it can be considered as evidence found upon arrival of a the call to the police, now.

    However, will the readers believe that technicality to work? And would the readers believe that the villain would go back to a safe, a second time, after the residence has been deemed a crime scene, even if it's to protect the evidence and get rid of it, if he has to?
     
  2. The_Raven
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    The_Raven Member

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    There are those that would believe it, and those that won't. You can't expect everyone to find something plausible in a story. I personally may find it a little too convenient how everything went down, but others may not. Just write your story however you want.
     
  3. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    a couple of things here.

    1.) MC cop breaks into the house off duty, without a warrent, and looks for evidence. : This is not search without a warrant. This is a straight up Breaking and Entering Case. Officer isn't just getting suspended, the officer is probably going to jail. Police don't do well in prison. At the very least he is getting probation.

    2.) There is a shootout. Depending on the State, the homeowner may or may not have the right to shoot intruders on sight. The officer would be in heaps of trouble yet again. BE and then firing at the home owner in their own home?

    3.) Officer break in again. More BE, this cop will be spending a ton of time in jail...hope you dont have a second book planned using this character.

    Side Question.) The bad guy kept the evidence in the exact same safe which had already been broken in to? Is he a complete idiot? Seems like somebody this dumb would slip up and be caught through normal legal means, but i digress.

    4.) To be considered a Private Persons search it must be determined that the Private Citizen had a reasonable personal cause for being in the premise. This normally goes along the lines of --man was hiking in the woods, found what appeared to be marijuana plants on someone property, investigates, confirms, reports-- or --A private investigator, enters a location to find evidence of a wives infidelity for her client, only to discover that the wife has hired a hitman to kill her husband--. The Private Citizen can not be acting as an agent of the police or have his reasoning for entering the premise be based expressly around solving an open police case. Having been an officer involved with the case, reprimanded for it, and suspended your MC no longer has reasonable personal cause. His actions are being moved by his involvement in the case, and he would be deemed as acting as an agent of the law. There is no way that anything that he finds will be usable in court.

    So if your intent is to be realistic, then i think you are going to want to go back and look at the ways you can change some story aspects. That said, your average Castle, CSI, or Bones episode is less realistic that what you have thought up, and part of storytelling is a little bit of suspension of belief.
     
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  4. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I was told by police in my research that a private citizen can get around the fruit of the poisonous tree laws, but yes I should have gotten more specifics. But I guess that's the point of brainstorming ideas, to determine if they work.

    I was told before by other readers though, that the villain would not go back to his safe, if it is being watched a crime scene and he would keep the evidence in it. Because if he takes it out and the cops see him do it, if they could be watching, then he incriminates himself. So I was told by others that he would leave it in, hoping the cops would eventually go away, and would only go in the safe to get it, if he had to, hence in the case of another break in.

    However, even though a citizen does not have the right to break in, to get evidence, if the cops are called and they get there in time to SEE the evidence in the open, such as an safe that is open, they have the legal right to use the evidence to arrest the owner in the court of law. I mean if I have drugs or illegal material in my house for example, and someone breaks in, and the cops are called to my house, they have the right to arrest me, if they see the illegal material out in the open. So wouldn't that work here, and it wouldn't matter what reason the intruder had to break in?
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see how your last paragraph is significantly different from your original situation. The evidence was revealed as a result of the actions of a former police officer who was formerly working on the case that the evidence is specifically relevant to. If that would make the situation legal, then police officers could regularly have their friends and relatives, or even their off-duty colleagues, throw bricks through the windows of all of their suspects in all of their cases, and then call the police about the broken window.
     
  6. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. So the law of finding evidence on the scene is only admissible in court then, if the person breaking in, is someone who does not know anything of the case prior then?
     
  7. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    It sounds to me that you are basing an entire plotline around a weak legal triviality. According to what you said, the entire plot hinges on this "loophole" which in and of itself is not very interesting. Speaking for myself, I will be very disappointed in the author if the villain gets caught by the MC saying "But I'm a civilian. I don't need a warrant to search his house. You can't dismiss this evidence!"

    FYI: He's not conducting a search, he's breaking in. Civilians don't need a search warrant because legally, there is no search warrant where civilians are concerned.

    About the climax part: If the MC gets fired as a cop halfway through the story, then what gives him the confidence to break the law and open the safe a second time? This also sounds weird because if during the second break-in the MC gets the cops to intercept, how and why do the cops still work with him?
     
  8. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. This is suppose to be the climax though, where the villain is caught with the evidence, not the entire plot.

    The cops do not still work for the MC. The police have a duty to check out break ins, no matter who is breaking in. They are not going to not respond just because they do not approve of the person breaking in. If the officer's reason for not responding to a break in, was that he didn't approve of the person breaking in, he too would be in trouble, obviously. So the other officers are going to respond, because it's their job.

    I was told by a lawyer that if a cop responded to break in and found illegal materials of the owner, then the owner can be arrested because it was found on the scene. If that's not true, then the lawyer was wrong I guess.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's a cop responding to a breakin by a cop.
     
  10. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. The law did not say that if a cop breaks in, that the illegal materials become inadmissible. They do when the police perform an illegal search, but not a break in, if they have been fired and are a civilian.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Did you read the posts above at all? Even a little bit?
     
  12. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. So basically if an officer responds to a break in, finds illegal materials, and then arrests the owner for possessing them, his case will be thrown out of if the intruder turns out to be a former cop associated with the case then. I was not told by the lawyer of that acception to the rule. But if that's the way it works, I will not use it then, and think of something else.
     
  13. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    The suspended officer would be recognized by the courts as an agent of the police, and any evidence found via his involvement would not be usable in court. The fact is, that because he worked the case he will never be seen as a simple Private Person, and any ongoing harassment will not viewed in the courts as "through the course of normal actions".

    In the real world, you criminal would be a free man, and your MC would be spending a pretty long time in prison.
     
  14. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    This is true, however there are a ton of exceptions and your story falls under them. In the real world, if police officers ask a civilian to check out a location that the police are unable to get a warrent for and report back. That civilian is "acting as a agent of the police" and anything they find, or that the cops find as a result is not usable in court. That said, TV shows like Castle and Bones regularly ignore this rule.

    Any officer that is suspended, fired, or retired is always considered and "agent of the police" in any of his/her active investigations. This is to prevent abuse of the system (i.e. the firing of an officer so that he main collect evidence as a civilian, to be re-hired once the case is closed).

    Depending on how accurate you want to be to the legal system i would work to change your climax. The current scene you have in mind however will require some suspension of disbelief and will anger many crime drama readers.

    Good luck, i know you'll find an even better solution to wrap the whole story up.
     
  15. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. One method in my writing that I approach is that I will come up with the villain's plan first, and then try to find a flaw in his plan that the hero can exploit. But every plan I have come up with so far results in a lousy flaw to exploit, or a flaw that does not work at all.

    It makes sense, because when you want your villain to be getting away with his crimes for the whole story up until the climax, you are not all of a sudden going to want to give him a flawed plan intentionally for him to be caught. Not only does he have to be caught, but the flaw also has to lead to a demise that will interweave the other character's plots together.

    Since a murder plan realistically, is not meant to interweave everyones' plots together, I have to try come up with one that just so happens to have that special of a flaw in it naturally.

    Is this the way to go about it, or am I approaching it wrong?
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that a core part of the problem is that your villain still doesn't make internal sense. Does he really make sense to you? Without a realistic human being, it's hard to find what mistakes he might make, what temptations he might fall for. There's still no good reason for why your villain is so completely and fundamentally broken.
     
  17. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. Well I asked some people with degrees in psychology back when I did research for the character and premise. About half said they could see it happen, a person being broken by being treated badly, and about half disagreed. But a lot of mass murderers throughout history, tend to overreact. The villain is doing it more out of principle though, rather than acting on rage. I mean in the movie Seven for example, we have a killer who is killing to make a point about the seven deadly sins. Now a person can feel strongly about believing that society should not sin, but out of principle, he wanted people to listen and he thought there was only one way to get them to do that.

    In Silence of the Lambs, we have a man who wants to become a woman, but was refused gender-reassignment. So he kills women, in order to make himself a woman skin suit. But he knows that if he put the suit on, it would never pass when trying to fool other people. He still does it out of what he believes though. So I felt that my villain was really no more of an overreactor, compared to others, but that's just what I feel.

    However, I don't think it's the villains principles, that is where the MC has to dig for flaws. I could also have the MC dig into the executions of the flaws, if that makes sense. If the villains motivation and temptation are uncrackable, perhaps the MC looking for flaws in the execution of the crimes is a better way to go?
     
  18. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But your "treated badly" appears to be fairly normal school bullying. You mention the character in Silence of the Lambs; that character was described as experiencing "years of systematic abuse." That's fundamentally different.

    What principle? Are you able to put words to it?

    You've said that you, too, were isolated and bullied. But how many people have you murdered? I'm guessing none, right? I was isolated and bullied. I've never killed anybody. I've never so much as shoplifted a candy bar.

    So what's the difference? What causes the change from you, who may be hurt and angry and even hate-filled, to someone who commits multiple murders?

    And is this the plot where your villain raped the cop? Why? I thought that his logic was that he felt entitled to female attention and was angry that he didn't get it. Where does the male cop fit into that scenario? If he's jealous of the popular, succesful-with-women cop, wouldn't it make more sense for him to want to take away the women somehow? In raping the cop, is he recreating something that happend to him?

    What made your villain take these specific actions? You need to know who your villain is, and I don't feel that you do. Maybe it's somewhere in your head, but from your plot descriptions so far, all I'm feeling is: "Treated badly. Angry. Does bad things. What bad things can he do?"

    That's not enough. You need to know who he is. You need to know why he does exactly what he does.

    And you also need to know your MC, who is also pretty clearly a bad guy. Why does he do what he does?
     
  19. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I will work on my villain more. I think the fundemental difference between me and someone who chooses to commit murder is how strongly they feel about the cause. For example Timothy McVeigh blew up a building because of what the authorities did in Waco. I don't agree with Waco either, but I do not agree with him strongly enough to do what he did. Or there was this autistic kid in school I heard in the news a while back who brought a gun to school and shot the bullies who were picking on him. I do not agree with what he did even though I am against bullying. I think it's just a matter of how passionate and how big of principles a person can have for a situation.

    Obviously I have beliefs, I just do not believe in acting on them to make a point.

    As for the main character, is he more clear cut? I thought that being raped would be enough to send him into revenge mode, as that be can a brutal experience for anyone to want justice or retribution after.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    His response to being raped is to blackmail random people who did nothing to him (continuing even after he gets one killed), throw away his career, and commit multiple felonies. That's not an obvious reaction.

    When you say "work on" your villain, I would strongly suggest that rather than doing any sort of character-sheet type work, you try to really get inside his head, maybe writing scenes to get to know him. A scene from when he first went to school at age five. A fight between his parents when he was seven, and how he reacted. What it was like when he graduated from high school. His first crime. His first murder. Why did he do it? What led up to it? How did he feel before and after? I'm not asking these questions for you to answer, I'm saying write the scene.

    And the same for your MC, his childhood, his life, what made him commit his first crime, why he abandoned his career, whether he ever had any allegiance to the law or whether being a cop was just a way to get power.

    You need to know these people. Write scenes. LOTS of scenes. Get to know them. Stop plotting and figure out who these people are.
     
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  21. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I will rework the villain. For the MC, his first crime was committed to catch the rapist. Before being raped, he was not a criminal. Is that okay? He blackmails a parolee into helping find the rapist, as the parolee has computer hacking skills that he puts to good use. What can I do to make the MC's rape experience, cause him to commit multiple felonies in a way that it's believable to the audience? He is a revenge driven character, and this is the basis of his revenge.

    He was an honest law enforcement officer, with good intentions toward everyone, but then he is raped and his own system that he enforces, fails him. So he does not believe in enforcing his own system anymore, and wants to against it, if he has to find the rapist/killer and stop him from committing further acts, if it means killing him as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not sufficient, no. Many, I'd say most, crime victims refrain from committing crimes themselves. You need to figure him out, too. Just saying "He's a revenge driven character" isn't enough. He's not a part, a widget, a piece of hardware in the machine that is your story. He needs to be a character. Again, most crime victims remain law-abiding citizens. Why didn't he? That's not a single-sentence answer; you need, again, to understand who this guy is.
     
  23. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. A lot of times in fictional stories, characters will turn vengeful against people who have done them wrong. Like for example in one of my favorite movies, Cell 211 (2009), the main character is a law abiding family man who has not committed any past crimes. He doesn't show any signs of mentally unhealthy behavior either. About half way through the movie, his wife is murdered, he finds out, and when he finds out the killer is right there in front of him. He goes from law abiding family man to murderer in a just a couple of minutes, maybe less.

    Is it possible to play it at that angle, where a character does a 180 degree turn because of a shattering event, just because it was too shattering for him to refrain?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I read the Wikipedia plot summary for that movie. It presents what sounds like a fairly plausible sequence of emotional reactions. I'm not getting that plausibility from your story.
     
  25. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. Is their a way that my main character can have such an extreme emotinal reaction to his ordeal, just from the rape alone at all, and it can be plausible?
     

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