1. BrBwithagun
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    BrBwithagun New Member

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    Imprisonment: facts needed

    Discussion in 'Research' started by BrBwithagun, Jul 12, 2012.

    i am writing a story where a character should go to prison because of murdering 2 people in car accident, 2 other people in car survive. this person shouldn't go to prison for too long, i'd love it to be maximum 5 years(but 1-2 years would be better). the case is this person is not guilty and there are no clear evidence he is guilty.
    by my idea, everyone thinks this person made the car accident happen, like cutting brakes in car or something like that, or making the driver taking pills so he falls asleep in a car which causes accident.

    what i want to know is how long by law a person must be in prison for 2 murders which he didn't do by his own hands but rather "helped" to happen?
    and what are his opportunities to make the time in prison smaller, like being nice or finding proof of being innocent later?

    thank you very much :)
     
  2. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    That depends on the jurisdiction and the charges. Your best bet would be to decide where your story is set, and look into the laws there.

    Cutting brake lines or force-feeding pills would both most likely be first-degree murder, though: the planning shows malice aforethought. And in America, that means that a five-year sentence isn't very likely. Also, a capital conviction would be difficult to obtain without "clear evidence."
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    You have to tread very carefully when you're writing a story based on a criminal prosecution. There is a reason that so many of the good ones are written by former prosecutors or sometimes defense attorneys. And it all varies by jurisdiction.

    I already see a potential problem in your query -- you say "there is no clear evidence he's guilty." Well, that's a problem because in the U.S. the defendant needs to be found guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." Beyond that, I'm assuming you mean either he's been set up or the circumstantial evidence is such that it has enabled a judge or jury to reach the conclusion that he is in fact guilty by some interpretation of the evidence.

    I don't know what most jurisdictions provide as far as a minimum sentence for an accomplice or accessory to murder. That is something you should research for the state where your story takes place. Everything related to what specifically he'd be charged with, and how long of a sentence the judge would impose would depend significantly on what *exactly* your character did.

    As far as getting out early on a 5 year sentence -- he might be able to get out early if the judge's sentence allowed for it, whether there were any mandatory sentences in the state, whether there is prison overcrowding, and yes, perhaps good behavior (which isn't really defined as being "nice.")

    Getting out early based on new evidence isn't really an option. He would have to make some sort of motion for reconsidering the verdict based on the new evidence, in which case, if the evidence clearly exonerated him, the sentence would be vacated and he would go free. But as a practical matter this would take a pretty long time, so if his sentence is 5 years or less, there's a good chance it would not be heard before then.

    This is a really tough subject to tackle without some kind of legal background. It can be done, but you really have to do a LOT of research. Good luck!
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    You could have it look like drunk driving. If he had some priors he might get a few years in jail. Maybe he wasn't even driving - but someone slid him into the driver's seat after the accident. Or slipped something into his drink.

    You could maybe find a similar case on the internet and find out how many years that person was sentenced to.
    It's an old plot manuever but done right it might work.
     
  5. nephlm
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    nephlm Member

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    So the issue is you describe a situation where everyone believes he committed first degree murder (pre-meditation), which generally means he's likely spending a good chunk of years behind bars. In today's climate, depending on the state, he may never get out.

    You need to plea down vehicular manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter that gets you closer to the mark, or perhaps the state could only prove negligent homicide. Also, in 1992 only about 48% of a sentence was actually served. I'm fairly certain that number is higher today, but you should find out what that number is.
     
  6. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    As was said there has to be clear evidence that he was guilty or he would have been found not guilty and not sent to jail at all. What you want is for some exonerating evidence to turn up conveniently to show that either he didn't do it, or it wasn't as bad as it seemed.

    So to start with the sentence. Look at the array of possible charges. Homicide is not going to be five years anywhere. But vehicular manslaughter, at least in New Zealand, is likely to result in a shorter sentence given. Now to work out how long people spend in jail, look at the maximum sentence for the charge by country or state. The maximum is almost never given, but if the judge thinks its a truly bad crime he may go close. Then, and again this is normal practice in New Zealand, apply two thirds of that sentence in jail for a violent crime, and one third on probation. For a non violent crime, say theft, it'd be one third of the sentence in jail, two thirds on probation. There are of course exceptions.

    Now we just had our first ever conviction of a passenger for vehicular manslaughter a few months ago. I can't remember what he got, but the details are simple. He was in the car, and he grabbed the wheel out of the driver's hand, causing a fatal crash with an oncomming car. The prosecution said he was trying to commit suicide and the rest were just along for the ride.

    So what say that's your scenario. He goes down for vehicular manslaughter. But then evidence turns up later after he's been convicted to show that he was actually trying to turn the wheel to avoid a crash with a pedestrian that no one saw. Note that the evidence would have to be fairly cut and dried, e.g. a video turns up showing the whole thing. That's grounds for an appeal.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  7. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    As was said there has to be clear evidence that he was guilty or he would have been found not guilty and not sent to jail at all. What you want is for some exonerating evidence to turn up conveniently to show that either he didn't do it, or it wasn't as bad as it seemed.

    So to start with the sentence. Look at the array of possible charges. Homicide is not going to be five years anywhere. But vehicular manslaughter, at least in New Zealand, is likely to result in a shorter sentence given. Now to work out how long people spend in jail, look at the maximum sentence for the charge by country or state. The maximum is almost never given, but if the judge thinks its a truly bad crime he may go close. Then, and again this is normal practice in New Zealand, apply two thirds of that sentence in jail for a violent crime, and one third on probation. For a non violent crime, say theft, it'd be one third of the sentence in jail, two thirds on probation. There are of course exceptions.

    Now we just had our first ever conviction of a passenger for vehicular manslaughter a few months ago. I can't remember what he got, but the details are simple. He was in the car, and he grabbed the wheel out of the driver's hand, causing a fatal crash with an oncomming car. The prosecution said he was trying to commit suicide and the rest were just along for the ride.

    So what say that's your scenario. He goes down for vehicular manslaughter. But then evidence turns up later after he's been convicted to show that he was actually trying to turn the wheel to avoid a crash with a pedestrian that no one saw. Note that the evidence would have to be fairly cut and dried, e.g. a video turns up showing the whole thing. That's grounds for an appeal.

    Cheers, Greg.
     

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