View Full Version : Witness scenario

04-27-2012, 05:04 AM
I'm looking for advice on scenarios that abide somewhat closely with RL law where two kids can stumble upon witnessing something, and because of the way they came across the damning evidence (breaking and entering for a prank) and that the main witness doesn't actually remember the incident due to an accident, they can't take it to the the cops/to court. Something that forces them to work from other directions to take down the villain. Something that maybe if they came forward, the secondary person would get in more trouble (either because they had more mental stability or because they were the one instigating the prank that led the primary witness to see the villain doing something bad).

My main goals are to keep the cops out of it (preferably because going to the cops will get one or both of the witnesses in deep trouble, maybe because of how they came upon the evidence (this may be a situation where testimony gives a lighter sentence?)), and that when everything comes to a head, the secondary witness is the one who gets in trouble, not the primary witness who has mental issues.

Can I vague it up more for you?

A more general outline: kids set out to muck around where they have no business. See something bad. Situation is thus that they can't report it without one or both of them getting in big trouble. Maybe they don't trust the cops who might be crooked, this is fluid. They begin an alternate investigation that could legally bring down the crooks (investigative reporters who protect their "source"). Things get out of hand and they end up in court anyway, and one of them goes to jail for a small time.

It's a tall order, but I am so out my depth with the legal aspect, so any pointers would be much appreciated, even "get the heck out!".

04-27-2012, 05:46 AM
You might want to look at FBI and Stolen Evidence Use (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=238060&highlight=tipoff).

Basic situation is little fish that can get bigger fish in trouble is usually let lose by the police. Big fish that can get little fish in trouble never goes near the police. However, little fish that can get bigger fish in trouble usually don't like going to the police either. It's one of those things that if you can save it until you get arrested, you can probably use it as a get out of jail free card.

So I'm not quite sure what your question is, but lots of people who witness crimes never contact the police, for a variety of reasons. And when people are arrested, they tend to use anything they can to get a better result.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

04-27-2012, 05:58 AM
For clarity's sake: these are little fish that, despite that they stumbled across big fish doing bad things, they'd love to see them fried for these bad things, but unspecified circumstances put the little fish in a compromising position that making a deal isn't appealing (one of the little fish is willing to take a little heat if the big fish goes down because of going forward, but the other little fish doesn't want their little fish friend to take any flack that could upset their upward track to a good life and a good career (college age, heading towards a white collar post-graduate degree)(the friend is really invested in their little fish not getting so much as a boot smear on their rep).

I'll check out that other thread, thanks!

I guess the other question is: would these guys, these little fish, by going to the police with their evidence, be subject to any hiccups in their lives? The big end result is that I want them to not want to go to the police and have to use alternative measures.
Back to my specific conundrum: so we got this kid, this young man, who's future is paved before
him in gold. He does something illegal (B&E) in a misfit impulse, and stumbles across something horrible. If he comes forward, his rep is tainted, he could lose his planned future. He doesn't care so much, but his friend does, and this friend is the primary witness, who doesn't want to see his friend lose his future. So they seek an alternate route.

I'm searching for the legalese to make this work.

Debbie V
04-30-2012, 10:10 PM
If the little fish are underage, court records would be sealed and hiccups minimized, unless there were a pattern of crimes in the past.

If they are old enough to watch TV these days, they have some idea of how the system works and might believe they could cut a deal with the cops or DAs.

Why is the friend so invested in the other guys' future? Is his own dependent upon it?

I have no scenario for you, but I'm finding the premise hard to accept. Perhaps another time or place would work better. Of course, if they knew a cop were involved they might be scared to come forward, but that would be because of the involved cop and not the law itself.

05-01-2012, 03:42 AM
Hmmm, maybe having a dirty cop involved might work.

I'm okay with iffy pov logic and poor decisions for the characters to decide to keep things under wraps.

The characters are family, a bit codependent in an unhealthy way*, and one has always set aside his own needs for the other's sake, and would gladly tell the world to go to hell if it kept his family safe and on the road to success. I was seeing this situation as a setback in that success. Going to the cops could resolve the criminal situation, but since they were doing something criminal themselves in witnessing it, my thinking was that, even with cutting a deal for testimony, it would taint the one character's future. I may be mistaken in this. They are both over 18. The one character whose future is (hopefully) on the line wants to be something along the lines of a lawyer. And, if it turns out that having (deferred) criminal charges won't affect his future, I'm willing to have the family member not believe that and not being willing to risk it.

Simply, I really just want a situation where they feel compelled (or one of them does, and compells the other, logically or no) to keep information to themselves and investigate from a different direction, and keep it out of the cops jurisdiction for the time being until they can go to them without involving their own selves.

Thanks once again for bearing with my fumblings.

* just to reinterate, this family member, if even a whiff of going forward meant putting any, any sort of blemish on the witness' future, he'd bail and want to hold back.

And while I'm here, what would "cutting a deal" entail? No sentence? Three months? A probationary period? How would that impact someone looking to get into law?

05-01-2012, 05:20 PM
I'm okay with iffy pov logic and poor decisions for the characters to decide to keep things under wraps.

This is the big factor and one that's impossible to answer. Depending upon who you are, where you fit in society, and other issues depends upon how much you trust the cops (even if you break the law). Certain groups of people in this country will never go to the cops, some will go sometimes, and others will go nearly always. You tell me that two dudes from State University's football team, who grew up in Watts, aren't going to the police, and I'll buy it. You tell me two kids from 90120 not going to the cops, and you're going to have a lot harder time selling it.

By the way, many people in prison have some level of moral code, and would report behavior that they consider socially wrong to authorities. This is a factor in why child abusers have problems in prison. And this is a factor in the news story I gave you in the other post. And definitely thieves have reported murders.

And while I'm here, what would "cutting a deal" entail? No sentence? Three months? A probationary period? How would that impact someone looking to get into law?

Depends upon who has what to trade. Take a look at Whitey Bulger. My guess is the two burglars in the article got a free pass on the burglary.

I had a client who got to confess, on the witness stand, to a drug deal to an undercover cop, with a free pass, because just as the drug deal went down, the people in the next apartment started shooting the crap out of each other, resulting in two murders. The only way my client would testify, which meant the undercover cop did not need to testify, was for a free pass. It was worth it to the prosecutor. (My client was arrested six months later on other drug charges, and got to enjoy an extended stay in Club Fed, though not the nice places in Club Fed.)

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe