View Full Version : getting my mc in trouble for investigating on the side

01-19-2013, 09:36 PM
Hi all,
My mc is a psychic and at this point in the novel, she's estranged from her bf, a police detective, so she's decided to do some investigating on her own. I want her to eventually get into trouble for this.

I'm loath to have her do anything so stupid as to compromise the investigation or spoil evidence, although I realize that may be unavoidable for my plot to work.

The investigation is into two murders and an assault which happened all in one night. The first murder (which has a link to a terrorist plot) occurred in one spot, and the murderer took the body to dump it in another. The second murder and the assault occurred in the second location. First, a young woman (named Ivy) who was stalking the murderer (for obsessive romantic reasons), saw him get the body out of his trunk and confronted him--he attacked and killed her, and then another woman who happened to be walking out into the alley at the time, leaving work, saw him doing that, and he assaulted (but didn't manage to kill) her.

Veronica, my mc, was called to the crime scene by her bf. At the time, no one realized that Ivy knew her murderer; they assumed she was as much of an innocent bystander as the assault victim (who is in a coma). Later Veronica and her bf had a falling out, and she decided to continue investigating after getting a vision of Ivy arguing with the murderer which made her realize Ivy knew him. Veronica goes to the school where she works to get Ivy's address and goes to the home to question Ivy's foster mother. This is as far as I've written, but basically she gets a list of names of Ivy's friends, and the foster mother also reveals that Ivy was stalking some boy. The detectives did go and question the foster mom, but didn't get as much information, especially because they are coming at the homicides from the wrong angle, thinking Ivy was killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Veronica wants to get as much information as she can so she can bring it back to her bf, kind of a passive aggressive, "ha! I've one upped you" thing.

Veronica's bf's partner hates Veronica because V knows she falsified evidence in a previous investigation. The partner would be willing to go to great lengths to discredit V, and she would be thrilled to see V in a lot of trouble for interfering in an investigation.

I thought of putting this in the Sandbox but I also need expertise in investigations and what constitutes too much meddling into one by a civilian, so I came here. Any and all advice and info is very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

01-19-2013, 10:45 PM
With two bodies (assuming first body dumped there) and a coma victim the police would not assume that this was a random attack. They would be looking for links between all victims.

A large majority of all murders are carried out by people who know the victim. The police would not assume Ivy was a random victim as a matter of course. They may reach this conclusion after investgating though.

01-20-2013, 12:38 AM
If your MC doesn't violate any laws in the course of her private investigation, or in any way interfere with the official investigation, she wouldn't be in any official trouble. She can talk to anybody she pleases - if they're willing.

Reporters do this all the time (in the US) - no official problems. The investigators may become annoyed, but there's not much they can do about it.

However, that's not to say her boyfriend (or his untrustworthy partner) won't have subsequent personal issues with your MC's initiative... Maybe that's the dynamic you're looking for?

01-21-2013, 02:41 AM
Thanks Sprogs and Mike.

Sprogs, you're right, and I will have to revisit how I present the police investigation, although luckily there's little written about it in the beginning of the novel, because Veronica and her bf very quickly get annoyed with each other so she's out of the loop. I was thinking the detectives wouldn't connect Ivy to the perp automatically, because Ivy was known to loiter around the area where she was killed. Officers have hassled her for smoking (she's under age) there before. So it made sense to me that they would think it was a wrong-time-wrong-place situation, but of course you're right, they'd be looking for connections.

Mike, she is going to have to sort things out with the bf, and her actions are passive aggressive, which never leads to good things in a relationship, in my experience. The bf will have issues with her actions.

But what I'm trying to figure out is how to give the hostile partner (Felsen) some teeth. She's been threatening Veronica for ages. I'd like her to finally act on the threats when she sees an opening due to Veronica's side investigation. I was thinking maybe Felsen would even find a way to falsify things to make it look like Veronica's side investigation had ruined some evidence or something.

What would be a good way to do that? For story purposes, I wouldn't want the consequences to land Veronica in jail for more than a few days, but that would certainly scare her, and Felsen would like to scare her off from investigating. Felsen isn't a terrible cop--she falsified evidence in one investigation out of protectiveness for another cop with whom she was having an affair. She hates Veronica because Veronica knows (but she only does because she's psychic), and because Felsen fears that people will start to really believe in Veronica's abilities. If they do, and Veronica decides to tattle on her, Felsen will get into serious trouble. Felsen isn't going to be a bad cop for the sake of being a bad cop. She is willing to endanger others by not listening to Veronica's warnings and such, because she doesn't want to appear to validate her, and she would be happy to plant evidence or otherwise manipulate things to get Veronica discredited and/or jailed.

So... could Felsen accuse Veronica of tampering with potential witnesses?
Is there some better way that she could nail Veronica?
What would Veronica interfering in the official investigation look like?
What laws are private investigators bound by that would be appropriate for Felsen to say Veronica had broken?

I assume private investigators can't break into a place to search it. Cops can get a warrant if they want to search a place that's locked, and PIs are just... SOL? Maybe I could figure out a way to have Felsen claim Veronica came by her information by breaking into a place they've been waiting on a warrant for. And, in fact, have Felsen do that.

01-22-2013, 12:15 AM
A P.I. can only act in the capacity of a private citizen and has no statutory/regulatory advantage; nor would he/she have authority seek/execute a search warrant. A P.I. who breaks into any building, dwelling, etc. commits a crime.

Obstruction of justice, unlawful interfering with a police officer performing his/her duties, witness tampering, etc. are all possible scenarios Felsen might consider in trying to jam up Veronica - of course Felsen would be committing a felony if she went through with it.

Have you considered a string of threatening e-mails received by a witness that are construed as coming from Veronica? That could constitute witness tampering, and can be problematic to disprove in a timely fashion. Any further contact during the course of the investigation between your MC and the same or other witnesses would only serve to deepen Veronica's perceived problems with the authorities.

It can take hours to weeks to clear something like this up satisfactorily. You can take as much time with this complication as your story needs.