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jclarkdawe
04-16-2011, 04:34 AM
I think I have a problem in my manuscript, and I may have a solution. But I'm not sure.

Protagonist's granddaughter runs away five years before the book begins when she is 16. No one is sure whether she ran away or was kidnapped/murdered. After five years, at the beginning of the manuscript she shows up at her grandfather's house. She does not want her mother to know.

Grandfather helps her get her driver's license (she hasn't had one). At the moment, I have the driver's license triggering a notice to the police where she disappeared, which causes the police to notify her mother that the granddaughter is still alive.

While the granddaughter was gone, she got picked up by the police for drugs and prostitution. These arrests occurred over a thousand miles away from where she disappeared and a couple of years after her disappearance.

Problem I realized is these arrests should trigger the system the same way as the driver's license.

So I need some way for the arrests to not trigger the system. I'm thinking if the first arresting officer was a bit lazy, mistyped her last name (from WEIR to WIER), got the right birthday, and she either refused or he screwed up the social security number, whether that would be enough to mess up the system?

Or is there some other approach that would work?

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Puma
04-16-2011, 04:58 AM
A sixteen year old is going to know her social security number? Really?

More likely - she ran away and was using a fake ID that someone where ever she was got for her - with a fake social security number, etc.

But then you still have the problem - the grandfather would have to have some way of knowing her real social - which could be possible if he by any chance set up some sort of savings account, bond, or whatever for her before she ran away. That help? Puma

MeretSeger
04-16-2011, 05:13 AM
Maybe my math is 'off', but if the book starts at 16, and she ran away at 11, and her arrests were when she was 13-14 or drugs and prostitution...I agree, you'd have to have her using a fake ID, a good enough one that would get by the cops.

I have a pertinent question that I don't know the answer to: here in California, they take a thumbprint. Do they run that through a crime database? If they do, it could trigger on her warrants no matter the names she used.

Prawn
04-16-2011, 05:14 AM
If she ran away when she was 16, don't the arrests happen when she is a minor? Then her records could be sealed and it wouldn't be triggered by her application for a driver's license.

jclarkdawe
04-16-2011, 05:42 AM
She runs away at age 16, is arrested after she turns 18, and returns when she is 21.

The reason a report is triggered is because she's in the system as a missing person (change in status when she turns 18). Juvenile arrests trigger a report for runaways if the juvenile uses their proper name.

At some level, and I'm not sure what, missing people are cross-checked against any activity in the computer system. It seems to be at some level of an outstanding warrant. I know one "missing" person was found as a result of a speeding ticket.

Her first arrest is when she gets fingerprinted. Once a record is entered into the system, that ID stays.

She has a dependent military ID, which contains her social security number. A fake ID would cause other complications in the story.

Thanks for the help.

Jim Clark-Dawe

Soccer Mom
04-16-2011, 07:35 AM
I don't think Juvi fingerprints go into AFIS, so she wouldn't be tracked that way. Some systems are super-sensitive. Our old mainframe was so sensitive that if a defendant's name was entered wrong the first time it was a nightmare to find him again. Hard to believe, but yes, something as simple as a typo can bury information.

Simple is best. I think the typo works.

strictlytopsecret
04-16-2011, 08:23 AM
It doesn't make sense to me that, at age 21 (5 years after she turned 16, correct?), that the police would be permitted to violate her confidentiality by calling her parents.

She's an adult both at the time she goes to obtain this driver's license and when she was arrested (at age 18+), correct? She should have the same right to privacy as any other adult, regardless of whether some sort of "alert" popped up on a police station or drivers' license station computer.

As an adult, the choice should belong to her, as to whether or not she chooses to reconnect with her parents (not the choice of the police). I could envision a scenario where the police told her that her parents were still wanting to connect with her and asking her for permission to contact them. But the choice should still be hers alone.

I'll be interested to hear a definitive answer.

Good luck,
~STS~

Linda Adams
04-16-2011, 03:29 PM
So I need some way for the arrests to not trigger the system. I'm thinking if the first arresting officer was a bit lazy, mistyped her last name (from WEIR to WIER), got the right birthday, and she either refused or he screwed up the social security number, whether that would be enough to mess up the system?

Maybe she flipped a couple of numbers in the social security number. Wouldn't be hard to do, and could be either interpreted as intentional or accidental. Many years ago, when I worked in a temp agency, we got an applicant who passed all our checks. Part of that was giving us her social security number. But she had apparently flipped the numbers because it was what we didn't find that turned up a few weeks later ...

jclarkdawe
04-16-2011, 04:36 PM
It doesn't make sense to me that, at age 21 (5 years after she turned 16, correct?), that the police would be permitted to violate her confidentiality by calling her parents.

She's an adult both at the time she goes to obtain this driver's license and when she was arrested (at age 18+), correct? She should have the same right to privacy as any other adult, regardless of whether some sort of "alert" popped up on a police station or drivers' license station computer.

As an adult, the choice should belong to her, as to whether or not she chooses to reconnect with her parents (not the choice of the police). I could envision a scenario where the police told her that her parents were still wanting to connect with her and asking her for permission to contact them. But the choice should still be hers alone.

I'll be interested to hear a definitive answer.

Good luck,
~STS~

This is the issue with any adult missing person. The fundamental problem with an adult who goes missing is that there's absolutely nothing illegal about it. But it might also be a forced disappearance, it might be illness, it might be kidnapping, it might be murder, it might be suicide, and there's absolutely nothing in way too many cases to indicate what has happened. The only difference with a juvenile is that running away is illegal, a status which changes at 18.

So let's say you disappear from New Hampshire and three years later, you go into California's Motor Vehicle department to get a new license. To do so, you have to turn in your New Hampshire license. But your New Hampshire license is flagged in the system and notification is sent to the police department that reported you missing.

At that point, the only thing the police are sure of is that the missing person isn't dead, and that isn't even strictly true. They need to check that the person is in fact the right person, that the person wasn't forced to leave New Hampshire as a result of some illegal pressure, that the person didn't have an illness (on rare occasions, as a result of mental illness, people remember who they are, but not that they have a family).

So the police contact the person who reported the missing person originally. Normally the police will also contact the missing person, but in my case, it's obvious to the mother from her daughter's address that the missing person is living with her grandfather. At that point, it's obvious to the police that this is a voluntary run away/missing person and close the case.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Puma
04-16-2011, 04:47 PM
Going back to your original idea - this actually happened to me. When I started to work at a state agency the person doing the input of my information goofed up my birth year and entered 05-05-05. Even though I was 30 and not 70 at the time, I had to get a copy of my birth certificate to prove that. Pain in the neck. So, is there any possibility of a birth year mix-up that could go along with birth months and days (or something else)? If your story is contemporary, that might work. Puma

MeretSeger
04-17-2011, 07:46 PM
A few years ago, a man applied for a passport in the name of Kevin Collins, a very well-known missing child out here, gone for decades. The passport agent recognized the name and called the FBI and Kevin's family was contacted as well. I don't know if that scenario might help you in some way.

PinkAmy
04-17-2011, 08:24 PM
Couldn't she just have given the police a false name in her arrest at 18? I'm not an expert, but isn't giving false names common for prostitutes?
I buy that she knew her SS number. I memorized mine when I was 15 and applying for "real" jobs for the first time. I assume, other than perhaps a school ID or library card, she didn't have any ID so giving a false name when arrested doesn't seem like a huge stretch.