1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Is there a way I can get around this legal loophole for my plot?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Ryan Elder, Apr 7, 2016.

    For my story, I have a few ideas of where to go with it, but wasn't sure which, but I like this idea, but not sure if it legally work, plot wise.

    Basically the MC is a cop who wants revenge on the villain, or at least wants justice for what he did, should justice somehow be able to prevail in the end.

    The villain does not want the MC to kill him and knows that he is after him, so the villain plans to go to the police and turn himself in, in order to avoid being killed out of revenge.

    But this is where the plot hole comes in, because if the villain were to turn himself in and confess, even offering evidence, the confession and evidence, could not be admissible in court, since he did it under being threatened by a cop.

    Evidence does not legally count if it was the person gives it up, out of coercion.

    So is there a way in which he can turn himself in, and it would actually work, and he would go to jail? Or is the law pretty air tight on this one, and there are no exceptions that be used? I tried looking it up but couldn't find any, but what do you think, for the sake of the story?
     
  2. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    You can totally suspend disbelief on this one. Just go with something like the villain has no proof he was threatened or that he would be killed (rather than arrested) by your cop; he thought he was so clever he forgot that there's no proof.

    In slightly longer terms; without evidence of the coercion there is no coercion. Remember; using threats to compel someone to commit a crime is a crime. When you say 'this guy coerced me' you are saying 'this guy committed a crime' and are held to that standard of evidence. There is a slightly dicier area around when someone believes they are being coerced when in truth they are not.

    Even when coercion is more legitimate the court will likely not just through that testimony in the trash unless you can literally see the cops hit him on camera. Thing is that it's very very hard to argue that you managed to perfectly fabricate this convincing story that connects with existing evidence off the top of your head. It's not like you were tortured until you signed a confession written for you here; you told them a story that appears to be true. And in court the prosecutor is going to ask you how this credible story just rolled off your tongue. How do you know all this about criminal enterprises, other prominent figures in that field, crimes committed, evidence left etc if you aren't involved? And why should the jury believe you're telling the truth now when you're saying 'I didn't do it guv' and nothing more. Unless you do have some completely cut and dried evidence of coercion (and violent coercion at that; threats that can be played off as not serious won't do it) then it'll be contested in court rather than dismissed out of hand. Just like a regular confession that is later retracted you will have to answer questions about why.

    An alternate tack you could take is that the antagonist tells the police enough that they don't need the confession to prosecute him. If the police go to the location he mentioned and finds some evidence he didn't know was there like hair or DNA or something then the confession won't be relevant at all. You have a guy with his DNA on the murder weapon. You can make the case on the strength of that and that alone. So if your mob boss tried to get it both ways; to confess but not be convicted; he might have tried to tell 'the truth' in such a way that it couldn't quite nail him but the cops (or even your MC) finds enough evidence to send him down.
     
  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks for the advice. But if the villain says he is turning himself in to avoid being killed, that is still police coercion.

    Plus, the police already know that the MC is after the villain, with diabolical intent. He already went after the villain once, and almost killed him, which is why the villain is scared for his life, and why the MC is in hiding from the police.

    The police would have to be dumb to think that is not why the villain turns himself in, especially when he does it randomly, a few hours later?

    Now wouldn't the police ask the villain why he is turning himself in, and wouldn't the villain say, because the cop is wanting to kill me? Wouldn't that get the evidence thrown out?

    I also want the MC cop to be in the scene though, when the villain turns himself in. Even though he is in hiding, he catches up to the villain, the villain stops the MC from killing him, saying he is turning himself in, with evidence, and then the honest cops bust in to catch them both. Is it possible to have the villain in the scene with the MC, when he turns himself in? Cause I would like the MC to be there for dramatic effect instead of just leaving him out of the climax altogether.

    But if the police bust in and see the villain with the evidence, but the MC is there, wouldn't they interpret that as the evidence not being admissible, since they were after the MC for vigilantism in the first place, and he is there with the evidence... so wouldn't that give the judge reason to believe that the evidence was obtained illegally, since the villain was in fear for his life.

    As for the villain giving up evidence, such as sending the cops to a location, I was thinking that maybe out of fear for his life, the villain could send the cops, to where he buried a dead victim from before.

    But again, him telling the police where to go, is done out of fear for his life, so the body would be inadmissible as evidence, I was told. It's like how in the movie Dirty Harry, Harry threatened to shoot the villain, if he didn't give up where the buried alive victim was. The villain gives up the victims location. When Harry and the cops find her, she is dead. But the body cannot be used in court, since the villain gave it up, out of fear for his life, and he is set free.

    So wouldn't the same rules apply here, especially if I want the MC to be in the same room with the villain, when he gives it up? I just want the MC to be part of the climax and not be left out. But I read in the law, like Dirty Harry, the very mentioning of the location while under threat of danger, is fruit of the poisonous tree, since any evidence gathered from the location goes back to him mentioning it, out of threat.

    Even if the cops bust in and the MC says that the villain gave up the evidence under other circumstances, they are not going to believe him, since he went after the villain with intent to kill before, would they? Plus would the villain now being safe, in the arms of the honest cops, recant later, saying he gave up evidence on himself to safe, since he was under death threat?

    Now there you mentioned that the villain has no proof that the MC was going to kill him. But in the eyes of the law, the burden of proof is on the police. So wouldn't the police have to prove that the cop was NOT threatening him, which in this case, they cannot? The villain can't prove that the cop was threatening him, but the police cannot prove, that it is a legitimate confession and turning himself over either, especially if the villain's reason for turning himself in, was under threat from the cop.

    So if the villain gives that reason and wants protection from the cop, which he would logically ask for in exchange for giving up evidence, wouldn't this reason he gives, counts as the evidence being inadmissible, since he is giving it up for that reason, which he would say?
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
  4. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Ryan,

    What you need is for the crim to believe the cop will kill him if he doesn't confess, without the cop actually intimidating him. Psychological intimidation. Cop see's him on the street, smiles and cocks fingers at him like a gun but says nothing. Maybe he has a model of a hangman's noose that he shows him. But doesn't tell him he's going to swing from it.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  5. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well the way I wanted to write it, is that the MC is about to shoot him to death, and he begs and says he will confess, and shows the MC all the evidence, and everything, so the MC allows him to do so. But I wanted the MC to confront the villain in the climax in order to be dramatic. The confrontation has to be dramatic though, doesn't it?

    A stare on a public street, in a public place, where the MC wouldn't likely hurt him, is not that dramatic for a climax. Shouldn't the climax have more of a bang, than just a stare confrontation, in a public (which means reasonably safe), place?
     
  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Why does the villain have to tell the police he's turning himself in to avoid being killed? If he's afraid the MC will kill him, telling the cops that the MC wants to kill him isn't the best way to avoid being killed. Just have him lie a little.

    "Why are you turning yourself in?" the cops ask.
    Villain glances at MC nervously, twisting his hands in his lap. "Because I need to be punished for what I did."

    End of story. No need for him to even bring up the threats.
     
  7. NobodySpecial
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    The kind of coercion you're thinking of is when the cops take a suspect to an interview room and use the rubber hoses and phone books on him until he caves, they use interrogation techniques like sleep deprevation, plying the suspect with beverages and denying him a bathroom break, then threatening injury if he wets himself.
    What you have is a bad guy looking to the better elements of the police for protection from the bad elements. I think that would fall more in the camp of self preservation, regardless of the 'why'.

    As Lea mentioned, you don't have to bring up the why when he turns himself in. You can always save it for a later plot twist.
     
  8. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. But this is the climax of the story, and I want to end at this point. I don't want any later plot twists. I thought that in this situation the villain would tell the police, it's because of the cop, in order to get some sort of protection from him. It just seems like a natural response.

    But the other cops know that the MC was going to kill him, since he tried already before, previously in the story, which is was put the villain in fear, knowing the MC wants to do it. I could write it so that the superior officers knew the MC wants to kill the villain, which is why the villain turns himself in, but they choose to ignore it, and not tell the DA everything, if that works?
     

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