1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    What would the police do in this ransom situation?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Ryan Elder, Mar 22, 2016.

    I have an idea for a story, but want to know exactly what would happen first. I tried doing legal research but have gotten some mixed opinions so far. But I would like story lovers' opinions, as well as legal ones.

    In the idea, these characters want to acquire certain materials from a gang leader, and kidnap the gang leader's loved ones, to hold them for ransom so the leader will deliver the goods.

    But the leader wants help on getting his loved ones back and knows that the police will do a better job at rescuing them at the ransom drop off, rather than his own gang. The police just have better resources and training for that sort of thing. Even though the kidnapper says 'no police', he does what a lot of characters do in fiction and rely on the police anyway.

    However, the ransom he needs to turn over, will implicate him and his gang in past crimes. It's basically most likely a video disc with some stuff on that will incriminate them. There could be other contents other than the disc that will, but I haven't gotten far enough in the story yet to tell what they would be.

    But if the gang leader goes to the police and explain the kidnapping situation, he is going to say that they want him to handle over a 'package' that he has in order to get them back and want's the police's help.

    The police are going to ask him what the package is, that they want, and he will have to do something like tell the police he is pleading the fifth, and not going to tell them what it is, or what is on the disc.

    Now as I understood the law in my research, the police cannot look at the package, just because he pleads the fifth. They cannot get a warrant do so, cause he, as a private citizen has a right to privacy. Even though he is a criminal, he has not been caught, and has no record. The police know about the gang, but they have never even heard of him till now, when he calls them for help. And he never mentions he is a gang leader of course.

    So as I understood it, the police cannot get warrant to search the package, just because he exercises a right of his. Even if the ransom drop off, goes well, the police rescue his loved ones, and get his package back from the kidnappers, the police will still legally have to give the package back to him, not knowing what it contains.

    So with this in mind, would the police still have some sort of response to this, realistically, if he refuses to give up the info and remain silent on what it is?

    Also when receiving instructions from the kidnappers, the kidnappers may divulge information that will incriminate him and/or the package as well.

    So would he be able to tell the police "even though you are helping me get my loved ones back, I still am going to listen to all the ransom instructions in private, under my privacy rights"? Would the police still have some sort of legal response to this, that will cause the gang leader trouble, or would they just have their hands tied and be forced to go along with it?
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Why would the police agree to this? How do you feel they can be compelled to go along with the package swap? Why don't the police just tell the guy to go jump in a lake and they'll handle the kidnapping themselves, without the package?
     
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  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well the police always seem to really want to help out in kidnappings, when innocent people's lives are on the line. If the kidnappers executed those love ones, and then word got out that the police refused to help save them, doesn't that look really bad for them, public relations wise? Would the police have to go all the way up to the chief or the mayor to make that call, not to help?
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know. I think they'd help, but I don't think there is much chance they'd go along with the package delivery. They're being asked to deliver a package to criminals with no idea what is inside. Could be state secrets, could be something harmful to public welfare, could be something that puts a specific person at harm, could be that the contents of the package is itself in furtherance of some crime. They have no idea. I think they'd help, but a civilian has no ability to tell them HOW to do their job, and I can't see them delivering the package without verifying what's in it.
     
  5. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    What if the gang leader showed them it was a disc, and they saw that it was unharmful? Would that make things easier? Plus it's okay if they do not go along with the actual drop off, but I wanted him to call him and attempt to get them involved perhaps.

    Would they still want to survey the villain to the delivery destination though?
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Who knows what's on the disc? Could still be state secrets. Maybe it's plans to a nuclear power plant. Maybe it's bank or credit card information for thousands of people, or something that puts a person's life at risk (like the location of people in witness protection). Etc. A disc could have anything on it. I think they'd have to see it first.

    I think once he involved the cops they'd try to prevent him handling it himself.
     
  7. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. But you said that the cops would not bother to go to the drop off. Or they might want to ideally but of course they would need him to come and cooperate, in case the kidnappers call him and such... what would the cops want to do if they do not want to go with him to rescue them, but the same time, they do not want to let him go either? Would they legally be allowed to stop him if lives are on the line?
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure. Someone with law enforcement background might know. Once the police are alerted and start trying to handle it themselves, I suppose they could say he's interfering with the investigation if he keeps going ahead with things. But I can't say for certain.
     
  9. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I assume that the kidnappers will still only deal with him though, so is there really a lot the police can do without him? Can the cops threaten to charge him with anything if he doesn't cooperate with them, since they need to know where to go, if they change the meeting the place, or send him all over town to make sure he is not being followed?
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
  10. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    As I see it you've got multiple issues here.

    First it's a kidnapping. The instant the police are advised of it, they have to get involved and take control. They can't say no.

    Second most police departments etc have a policy that you don't pay ransoms - it encourages further kidnappings. So all this stuff you see on the tv with ransom drops etc, is just tv. The gang leader would have to do all that stuff by himself and hope that the police simply stand back, watch, and let him.

    Third, the gang leader can tell the police the disc contains anything, the secret to immortality for example. It doesn't matter. The gang leader I assume will be the one making the drop since the kidnappers specified no police - and presumably he intends to pay.

    Fourth, once the first crime is resolved the police assuming they catch the kidnappers and get the ransom back will have it as evidence in a kidnapping. They will look, and if they find evidence of another crime they will charge and prosecute. Again it's a no choice thing for them. Police cannot knowingly ignore a crime.

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

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    Okay thanks. So if a person wants to pay the ransom and the police say no, than that person has to just go pay alone, and get the police off his back then?

    As for the gang leader telling the police anything, I thought it would be better to plead the fifth, rather than lie, cause any lie you tell can be used against you, where as pleading the fifth, technically cannot so much.

    I was told that the ransom package is protected under fifth amendment privacy rights though, and the police only have a right to look at it, if they have evidence to believe there is a crime in it. But since they do not have evidence to cause this believe, how can they look at it then?
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
  12. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Actually your first question is a catch 22 of involving the police. If you go to the police with a complaint of kidnapping, you hand over complete control to them. There is no way around that. There's an active crime being committed and that's their baliwick. You just have to hope that they will agree to do as you ask.

    As to the pleading the fifth (American I assume), that's a court term. Lying to the police in general about things can be a problem, but if it doesn't affect things, it probably won't matter. So giving the police a false name may land you in court. Telling them you're going to the supermarket when you're going to a friend's house probably won't. And in any case, you aren't generally under oath.

    The third question is trickier for me since I'm not a lawyer. But my understanding is that the disc is material evidence in a capital(?) crime - ie the kidnapping. They will keep it for the trial of the kidnappers and they will almost certainly examine it to make their case. I mean if the kidnappers had demanded money and the police had caught them and got the ransom back, they would keep it and examine it simply to make sure that some of the kidnappers hadn't got away with some of the money. And to be able to say in court that the kidnappers demanded and were paid this.

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

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    Okay thanks. I thought that in court maybe there exists a law that the kidnapping can be prosecuted without having to look at the disc, if they already had enough evidence on the kidnapping, especially if one can argue that the package cannot be searched under the fifth, but I am receiving mixed answers on if the fifth applies. Even though it's part of the crime now, he exercised the right while bringing it to the police to explain originally, so wouldn't he still have the right later, since he had that right before?.

    In the movie Ransom (1996), Mel Gibson's character, called the FBI when his son is kidnapped.

    He gave control the FBI for the ransom drop off. The FBI screwed it up, so to speak, and the son was not returned. Mel had to do the ransom again, and go by himself, and he decided for the safety of his son, that he will go by himself and deliver it this time, since the FBI screwed it up on the first attempt.

    In that movie they took artistic license with the FBI paying a real ransom, but also letting him have final control, after they screwed it up. So could I take artistic license with certain elements, like other works of fiction do?

    I don't know if I want him to have final control yet or not, it depends on how I develop more of the plot. But I would like the real ransom to be taken there, otherwise, what is the point...

    If the police are not going to do things his way, he discovers, what would happen if he would just tell the police he is handling it himself? Even though he came to the police for help, at what point does it count as giving them control? Can he take it back? Would the police follow him to see what he is going to do, or would they just arrest him for attempting to take it back?

    If they charge him with obstruction of justice, will the charges really stick and will he be locked up for long, since a prosecutor will probably not go through with such a charge, when all the man was interested in doing was saving the lives of loved ones?

    What does he have to worry about, or what is he up against if he decides to do it himself after the police are not doing it the way he thinks it should be done?
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
  14. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    OK, should say that I'm not American. But having done some massaging of my little grey cells and a little googling, here's what I can tell you.

    First kidnapping is the bailiwick of the FBI. So if your guy reports it to the police, it will swiftly be passed to them.

    US public policy prohibits the government from negotiating with terrorists and paying ransoms. It does not prevent families from paying ransoms privately. And as I recall seeing on the news, Obama recently passed legislation saying that those private families who pay ransoms to terrorists to get loved ones back, will not be prosecuted. They presumably would have been up until then.

    And the fifth amendment does not apply as I understand it. It simply allows someone in court not to have to testify if in doing so he might incriminate himself. Evidence does not testify and can't really incriminate itself.

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

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    Oh okay thanks. I thought that the police are helping to save the loved ones lives, and he is just paying the ransom alongside them. They do their part, and he does his. I thought he could pay and they won't stop him, since he is giving his consent. I thought at the U.S. policy not to pay, only included government money. But I think that the money of a private citizen could be payed with his consent and the police are just along for the rescue, during the drop off.

    I thought that the fifth amendment applies cause he would be incriminating himself with revealing what is in the package. Perhaps he shouldn't go to the police then, if that's the case. I just wanted the police to get involved somehow.
     
  16. SMScoles
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    SMScoles Member

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    If the police don't even know who this guy is b or that he's involved in a gand, why wouldn't he just report this as a private, innocent citizen? If he was a decent gang leader he'd have had his money washed giving it at least the appearance of being legit. In other words he would appear wealthy and targetting his loved ones might more sense.

    He could, since he's a gangsters, lie to the police. They just want money. In a brief case. With a disc he's hidden under the liner. Or a thumb drive, etc.

    Something like that sounds far more feasible than trying to not tell the FBI what's in the package.

    It feels like you're trying to brute force your way through a sticking point rather than massaging your way around it.
     
  17. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Even if he hides the disk, and acts innocent and let's the FBI see what is inside, they are not stupid and will very likely find it, so it's more risky that way, isn't it?
     
  18. SMScoles
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    SMScoles Member

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    But it's a story. Just make them not find it. Why would they rip the lining out of a briefcase to look for contraband if some random rich father was just trying to get his kid back?

    So long as the premise is believable it doesn't necessarily have to be perfect. Imho.
     
  19. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    I thought they would run it through an x-ray machine or something, rather than rip the lining out. I was thinking about this, but the character is not that rich. He might be able to sell his house to get money for ransom, but would the FBI think it was suspicious that a non-rich man is paying a ransom?
     
  20. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    These days it could be on a microUSB. Easy to hide when making the transfer. Why would the police x-ray the bag or briefcase if they had no reason to suspect the guy of anything other than trying to pay money for a ransom?
     
  21. The Triarii
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    The Triarii Member

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    you have presented two options.

    He refuses to tell them what is in the case and they just accept it.

    Or

    He gives a perfectly plausible reason and they don't believe it. They then go out of their way to X-ray the payment and locate the micro SD (illegally) and then remove the micro SD (illegally) and open in and search the files in it (illegally).

    If him having the money isn't plausible just make it plausible. People could rack up money real quick selling cars, homes, and taking out loans, etc. all of that makes more sense then someone telling the FBI that something was none of their business.

    If he gives a good reason, just let them believe it.
     

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