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View Full Version : Arrested on suspicion/wanted for questioning/ARGH how do I set this up?



Stacia Kane
10-07-2013, 06:43 PM
Sigh. I've spent the last two days all over the internet on all kinds of legal forums and websites etc. etc.--and including extensive searches here--trying to see if I can find a good way to do this, or if the way I want to do it works, or what. So I'm hoping somebody can help me out.

Background situation: A series of murders are occurring in a small Indiana town. My MC has met my hero; he informs her that the murders are paranormal in nature, and she knows this is true. (I'm trying to shorten it all here, obviously.) The hero is, essentially, a criminal known to the police. He's been away from the town but returned just before the murders started. His priors are mostly theft and various non-violent offenses, but there are one or two assaults in there.

Okay. Here's my problem. I want him taken in for questioning or arrested. I could have him arrested for the murders, but A) the fact that his return to town coincides with the murders isn't really enough probable cause/reasonable suspicion for them to actually arrest him, is it, even without a warrant?; and B) I need him out by nightfall, and given that this is a string of murders I can't see any judge granting bail to a suspect--especially not one with prior violent offenses, no matter how "small" they were (we're talking barfights resulting in fines/probation here, not stranger attacks or anything of that nature, and no crimes against women at all--another reason I'm hesitant about probable cause/reasonable suspicion for arrest). I mean, he has a good lawyer, but that just seems to me like stretching it.

So those are my main concerns with an arrest for the murders--if they're going to issue a warrant to arrest him for such, don't they need more proof than "Well, he showed up in town (which is his hometown, btw, and he has extensive ties there, he's not a drifter) and suddenly innocent coeds are dying?" and I need his release later that day to be realistic. And if they don't issue a warrant but arrest him anyway...they know he has a good lawyer and might be opening themselves up to disciplinary action for lack of probable cause, so I'd think they'd be sticklers there.

I know if they bring you in they have 24 (or 48) hours to either charge you or release you, but again, is that only for actual arrests or is that if they bring you in for questioning as well? If you're a Person Of Interest, do they arrest or detain you for questioning or is that just a term people use? I often see "So-and-so is wanted for questioning in Crime X," and sometimes the WFQ person is a witness and not a suspect; can they compel a WFQ person to come in, or is that, again, just a term used that makes the person believe they have to come in when it really doesn't mean that? What is the difference between "held on suspicion" and "arrested," since there seems to be one, and if you're being held on suspicion, what do the police say? Do they come to your house and say, "We're detaining you for questioning?" Can they? Can they issue a warrant to question you? (I don't see any way they could make Material Witness stick.)

I'd really like to find a way for them to compel him to come in for questioning--he's not going to say anything, he's very familiar with his rights for obvious reasons and called his lawyer the second the cops drove up--but I'm pretty sure the only way they can actually do that is by arresting him. Otherwise, he can just tell them this isn't a good time or whatever, is that correct?

How about if they arrest him for something else, a lesser charge--I mean, I know they can do this, and they can do it with the intent of questioning him about the murders/putting pressure on him, but I'm hoping to find a way to make it clear at the time they show up that it's the murders they're interested in. (I realize it may not be possible and I may need for that to become clear to my heroine in the next scene.) And again, my concern is that whatever lesser charge they arrest him on (and I have several options there), they won't release him by nightfall.

I considered making him a parolee or probationer, but it's my understanding that while parolees/probationers must consent to searches at any time without prior notice, they are still not required to consent to appear for or go in for questioning (whether or not they intend to invoke Miranda).

This is a really minor point in the story--all that matters is the police get involved--but it's one of those minor points that so much hinges on, and it's driving me crazy.

Any ideas?

Thanks!

tko
10-07-2013, 07:36 PM
If he isn't going to talk, how will bringing him in advance the plot? What are you trying to achieving with this scene? Because that determines how you write it.

Do you want him out of the way so another murder can happen? Do you want tension?

If there isn't enough evidence, they can only suggest he come in. The usual put pressure on and clear his good name and all. That works fine. Why wouldn't he come in and clear things up if he's innocent?

But police can do pretty much anything they want, so I'm not sure why you're sweating it. I don't mean it's legal, I don't mean they'll get away with it, but if the police want to arrest you w/insufficient evidence in a town, they sure can --unless you have a good lawyer up front.

It's up to you to make it a believable scene. Police don't like him, maybe one officer is suspecious w/a relative involved, stops him, breaks his tailight, take him in for resisting arrest, no phone call, he gets out in 24-hours after his lawyer finds him. Seems like you are trying using the law to solve you're scene issue, when it's all about people. Like there's never been an unjust arrest or detaining in the world.




Okay. Here's my problem. I want him taken in for questioning or arrested. I could have him arrested for the murders, but A) the fact that his return to town coincides with the murders isn't really enough probable cause/reasonable suspicion for them to actually arrest him, is it, even without a warrant?; and B) I need him out by nightfall, and given that this is a string of murders I can't see any judge granting bail to a suspect--especially not one with prior violent offenses, no matter how "small" they were (we're talking barfights resulting in fines/probation here, not stranger attacks or anything of that nature, and no crimes against women at all--another reason I'm hesitant about probable cause/reasonable suspicion for arrest). I mean, he has a good lawyer, but that just seems to me like stretching it.
!

jclarkdawe
10-07-2013, 07:37 PM
I doubt any criminal would ever call his attorney upon being questioned by the police. This is only done at a fairly high level of criminal conduct, and requires the criminal actually have a relationship with the attorney. I've had a couple of mothers call me when the police show up to arrest their kid, but never a criminal defendant.

Have him be a parolee. Police threaten to revoke his parole on the charge of "failure to assist law enforcement." It's a bullshit charge, but it's enough for a parole officer to hold a parolee. Parolees have very minimal rights, and parole boards don't need a to revoke parole, as parole is not a right, but a privilege. If the police want to play hardball with a parolee, there's not a lot the parolee can do.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

cornflake
10-07-2013, 08:09 PM
The bringing someone in for questioning only works on people who are, well, naive, are really sure the cops just want some help and they can offer it and they're not under suspicion of anything, or really know the system and are playing the game with the cops.

Unless they have an arrest warrant in hand, they cannot compel someone to come in for questioning, or question anyone anywhere - if they arrest you, they cannot compel you to say anything beyond basic identifying information, though they can question you until you invoke the magic words that indicate you want a lawyer present. They may say stuff like come in or they'll get a warrant - that means they don't have enough for a warrant or they'd have one. ;) This is why you shouldn't let the cops inside your dwelling or go with them if you weren't the people who called them (unless they have a signed warrant to enter or there's one for your arrest).

The way you want it, given it's a small town, I think you could have it as a rogue cop or sheriff or whatever, who runs into him and tries to ask him questions and the guy says to bugger off and the cop takes offense and arrests him on some bogus charge that everyone realizes is bogus. Or some rookie overhears other cops saying they think it's him and they wish they could get him in a room so that cop does something stupid and asks him to come in for questioning, he says no, the cop says something from the movies like then they'll do it the hard way and cuffs him and brings him in and then, as it's a small town, it takes a bit for someone to notice it's bogus. That'd have to be one stupid rookie, with no training, who is about to be in insane levels of trouble though, as it's just super dumb.

onesecondglance
10-07-2013, 08:10 PM
Do the police have to play by the rules? For instance, could you have them coerce your hero into coming in, say by threatening to "find" some illicit substances when they search him? If they really just want to find out what he knows, they wouldn't need to actually follow through and could then release him in accordance with your timeline.

Or they could just make something up, like "our prime suspect in these murders is one of your known associates". There are lots of bullshit reasons to get him into the station - and if he's been around the block a few times, he might figure it's quicker to just go in, spend a few hours not talking and get out without a charge than it is to resist and / or threaten lawyers.

Perhaps he might even want to go with them to find out what they know? Hell, that would solve a lot of the problems.

Stacia Kane
10-07-2013, 08:17 PM
If he isn't going to talk, how will bringing him in advance the plot? What are you trying to achieving with this scene? Because that determines how you write it.

I'm establishing suspicion, and that Larger Events Are In Motion, which is necessary to kick off the rest of the story. I'm not actually writing any scene with him at the police station--his POV does not feature in this book.


Do you want him out of the way so another murder can happen? Do you want tension?

Ha, I need him out by nightfall so another murder can happen, actually. And like I said, I need to establish their suspicion in order to have the rest of the story happen.



If there isn't enough evidence, they can only suggest he come in. The usual put pressure on and clear his good name and all. That works fine. Why wouldn't he come in and clear things up if he's innocent?

Because not everyone does? Because people who've been in and out of detention since the age of twelve don't always trust police? Because his family are also known criminals so he's been raised not to talk to police? Because, since he knows the murders are paranormal and why they're happening, he does actually have information that could either A) be seen as incriminatory; or B) could get him hospitalized when he starts explaining about murderous wraith-creatures from beneath the earth, and he knows that lying to the police is a bad idea so would instead just refuse to say anything? Because he has knowledge of his family's criminal activities as well?

Even innocent people are free to invoke their right to silence and to refuse to be questioned.



But police can do pretty much anything they want, so I'm not sure why you're sweating it. I don't mean it's legal, I don't mean they'll get away with it, but if the police want to arrest you w/insufficient evidence in a town, they sure can --unless you have a good lawyer up front.

I'm sweating it because that's what I do. I just wondered if anyone had any suggestions or information for me wrt being compelled to go in for questioning outside of actually being arrested--because, again, I'm concerned about them releasing him the same day.

I know I CAN write it any way I want, and that the police CAN make the arrest without probable cause/reasonable suspicion. I was just hoping for a way to add some veracity, and not fall into the "Oh, corrupt cops, cops playing games with the law!" thing.

And he does indeed have a good lawyer.




It's up to you to make it a believable scene. Police don't like him, maybe one officer is suspecious w/a relative involved, stops him, breaks his tailight, take him in for resisting arrest, no phone call, he gets out in 24-hours after his lawyer finds him. Seems like you are trying using the law to solve you're scene issue, when it's all about people. Like there's never been an unjust arrest or detaining in the world.

No, there's really no scene issue that needs resolution. I simply wanted to avoid the hoary old "crooked cops" thing--the police are not the bad guys here. If there's no way for them to compel him to come in without arresting him, then I'll stick with the scenario I've already written, which works fine; I just wondered if there was a better way, was all.

cornflake
10-07-2013, 08:23 PM
If he isn't going to talk, how will bringing him in advance the plot? What are you trying to achieving with this scene? Because that determines how you write it.

Do you want him out of the way so another murder can happen? Do you want tension?

If there isn't enough evidence, they can only suggest he come in. The usual put pressure on and clear his good name and all. That works fine. Why wouldn't he come in and clear things up if he's innocent?

But police can do pretty much anything they want, so I'm not sure why you're sweating it. I don't mean it's legal, I don't mean they'll get away with it, but if the police want to arrest you w/insufficient evidence in a town, they sure can --unless you have a good lawyer up front.

It's up to you to make it a believable scene. Police don't like him, maybe one officer is suspecious w/a relative involved, stops him, breaks his tailight, take him in for resisting arrest, no phone call, he gets out in 24-hours after his lawyer finds him. Seems like you are trying using the law to solve you're scene issue, when it's all about people. Like there's never been an unjust arrest or detaining in the world.

There are many of us who'd simply not do that. I might have nothing to do with anything but I've known since I can remember that the 'rule' is that you don't go talk to cops without a lawyer unless you called the cops.

Asking you to come in for questioning isn't a lawyer situation, thus I wouldn't do that. Same as letting cops in the house. Why ask for trouble?

Stacia Kane
10-07-2013, 08:24 PM
I doubt any criminal would ever call his attorney upon being questioned by the police. This is only done at a fairly high level of criminal conduct, and requires the criminal actually have a relationship with the attorney. I've had a couple of mothers call me when the police show up to arrest their kid, but never a criminal defendant.

He does have a relationship with the attorney; the guy's been representing his family on their various criminal offenses for years (think mob lawyer, basically). And there are some cops on his family's payroll, so he's aware they're coming for him and makes the call.



Have him be a parolee. Police threaten to revoke his parole on the charge of "failure to assist law enforcement." It's a bullshit charge, but it's enough for a parole officer to hold a parolee. Parolees have very minimal rights, and parole boards don't need a to revoke parole, as parole is not a right, but a privilege. If the police want to play hardball with a parolee, there's not a lot the parolee can do.

Thanks for that! Like I said, I know parolees have to consent to searches, but didn't know what other options there were/are.

Stacia Kane
10-07-2013, 08:31 PM
The bringing someone in for questioning only works on people who are, well, naive, are really sure the cops just want some help and they can offer it and they're not under suspicion of anything, or really know the system and are playing the game with the cops.

Unless they have an arrest warrant in hand, they cannot compel someone to come in for questioning, or question anyone anywhere - if they arrest you, they cannot compel you to say anything beyond basic identifying information, though they can question you until you invoke the magic words that indicate you want a lawyer present. They may say stuff like come in or they'll get a warrant - that means they don't have enough for a warrant or they'd have one. ;) This is why you shouldn't let the cops inside your dwelling or go with them if you weren't the people who called them (unless they have a signed warrant to enter or there's one for your arrest).

The way you want it, given it's a small town, I think you could have it as a rogue cop or sheriff or whatever, who runs into him and tries to ask him questions and the guy says to bugger off and the cop takes offense and arrests him on some bogus charge that everyone realizes is bogus. Or some rookie overhears other cops saying they think it's him and they wish they could get him in a room so that cop does something stupid and asks him to come in for questioning, he says no, the cop says something from the movies like then they'll do it the hard way and cuffs him and brings him in and then, as it's a small town, it takes a bit for someone to notice it's bogus. That'd have to be one stupid rookie, with no training, who is about to be in insane levels of trouble though, as it's just super dumb.

Thanks! Ha, I think at this point I'll probably just stick with what I've written, which is that they arrest him on some other bullshit charge. It serves all the purposes I need it to serve, really, I was just wondering if there wasn't another option. :)



Do the police have to play by the rules? For instance, could you have them coerce your hero into coming in, say by threatening to "find" some illicit substances when they search him? If they really just want to find out what he knows, they wouldn't need to actually follow through and could then release him in accordance with your timeline.

Or they could just make something up, like "our prime suspect in these murders is one of your known associates". There are lots of bullshit reasons to get him into the station - and if he's been around the block a few times, he might figure it's quicker to just go in, spend a few hours not talking and get out without a charge than it is to resist and / or threaten lawyers.

Perhaps he might even want to go with them to find out what they know? Hell, that would solve a lot of the problems.


Thanks! That's helpful, too.

ironmikezero
10-07-2013, 09:11 PM
Jim's suggestion to make him a parolee may be your strongest tactic. His presence at the police station may be for reasonable suspicion of involvement in another (unrelated) offense - e.g.; he rather closely meets a witness' description of a purse snatcher, and he was picked up in the vicinity.

Very aware that such a charge would constitute a violation of his conditions of parole, he would be motivated to appear cooperative - especially if he has a solid alibi that can be corroborated by the police within a few hours. Once officially cleared of suspicion, he can be released when you need him to be, having never been officially charged.

Stacia Kane
10-07-2013, 09:40 PM
Thanks, Mike!

tko
10-07-2013, 11:31 PM
Well, I'm NOT thinking its a "cops are corrupt" thing. That's how the business goes (not that I know much, just a lot of movies and reading.) Cops put pressure of those they think might be guilty. It's their job. It's how they solve cases. I've never seen it portrayed any other way. You get the suspect in anyway you can, and you sweat them.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if I was reading a novel (or watching a movie) and the police call in someone for questioning, make them sweat a little, perhaps a little excuse or trick to hold them for a while, it wouldn't shock me at all, and I wouldn't think any less of the police.

There's a good reason for this (in real life and in fiction). A few minutes of internet research pretty much showed (1) you don't have to talk to the police except the basics (name, address) (2) You don't have to go to the station. Police are handicapped, but are good at putting pressure on people.

The only way you're going to get your guy to the station if he goes voluntarily, because he thinks it's in his best interest, or because the police manipulate him in some way.

http://www.legalaid.qld.gov.au/LEGALINFORMATION/THEJUSTICESYSTEM/DEALINGSWITHPOLICE/Pages/DoIhavetotalktothepolice.aspx

(yes, it's for Queensland but sounds reasonable)

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/when-police-can-make-arrest-probable-cause.html





No, there's really no scene issue that needs resolution. I simply wanted to avoid the hoary old "crooked cops" thing--the police are not the bad guys here. If there's no way for them to compel him to come in without arresting him, then I'll stick with the scenario I've already written, which works fine; I just wondered if there was a better way, was all.

Russell Secord
10-08-2013, 12:58 AM
One strategy I don't see here is for the police to invite the hero to the station for voluntary questioning. He's not legally compelled to go, but a detective could imply that things will get ugly if he doesn't. They want quick answers, and they're rounding up the usual suspects. That means a crowd of people at the station and a long wait (which was your other criterion).

And while he's waiting, you have the opportunity to introduce some other characters, fill in your hero's character, lay out the evidence from the first murder, etc.

T Robinson
10-08-2013, 01:18 AM
One scenario that I have not seen mentioned. In my state (Georgia criminalizes traffic tickets), if you get a traffic ticket and have an in-state license, it serves as your bond. If it is an out of state license, the person is arrested and goes through the booking process, posts bond from a set schedule and goes about their business.

As long as it is not driving under the influence or something similar in severity, the person might be out before the officer finishes the paperwork. This is a legitimate reason under your scenario if your locale has similar policies and your person has no in-state license (for whatever reason).

Thought I would mention it. Otherwise Jim's scenario is best.

MookyMcD
10-08-2013, 01:46 AM
Have them hold him as a material witness. Google the phrase and bear in mind that when prosecutors claim to be doing it in compliance with the statute, half the time they are full of crap and just trying to hold a suspect without enough for an arrest warrant, hoping to get enough for a warrant by the time the "witness" wiggles free.

pdichellis
10-08-2013, 02:34 AM
Great thread. I enjoy researching procedural issues for my stories, and there’s some great stuff here. Love the parolee angle.

Another scenario -- the police could almost certainly detain your guy, if they have only a “reasonable suspicion” (not probable cause) that he committed a crime. What they could not do, unless they arrest him, is take him to a different location from wherever they find and detain him. Here’s a wiki summary and some excerpts from a defense attorney’s website, a former Deputy D.A. (California):

“A Detention is a non-consensual temporary denial of liberty. A police officer must have “reasonable suspicion” that you are about to commit a crime, you are in the act of committing a crime, or you have committed a crime.

The officer has the authority to temporarily deny you the ability to leave while he investigates his suspicion. You may still refuse to answer any questions, but you have no right to leave.”

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_definition_of_being_detained_by_a_poli ce_officer

“A detention allows the police to briefly hold someone for investigation purposes. They must have enough information or evidence that criminal activity is occurring and that you are somehow connected to be able to detain you. During a detention, you are not free to go.

The classic example is a traffic stop. Similarly, an officer that’s investigating a crime of some sort that orders you to sit on the curb has detained you. Orders to stay put, demands for identification, holding your license or property and not giving it back, handcuffs or sitting in the back of a patrol car are all classic signs of a detention.

How long can you be detained? The court decisions say that it is for a “reasonable” period of time to allow them to investigate whatever crime you were detained for.”

http://www.joedane.com/featured/interacting-with-the-police/

Okay, I’m certainly no expert (just a newbie writer), and I know others here have done research too. But it seems credible to have the police to detain your guy. He can refuse to answer questions, of course, and demand the cops either arrest him or let him go. But if you just need him hung up for a couple hours, it seems like you could do it.

Best wishes,
Peter DiChellis

PS - I'm sure you'd research it, but I'm guessing they'd Mirandize him.

jclarkdawe
10-08-2013, 05:05 AM
Detainment is done at the scene of a crime or where the police stop a potential suspect/witness. Basically the police are allowed to hold you at the scene or where they stop you while they investigate further. Detainment is not custody and they are not allowed to transport you (normally).

In this scenario, the police have enough evidence to detain him and ask him questions. Without bullshitting, they do not have enough to transport him to a police station. Nor do they have enough to force him to go to the police station if he refuses.

Detainment does not require that an individual be Mirandized, although most departments will. Detainment is not being placed in custody. Being placed in custody requires that police Mirandize you prior to questioning.

Just so you know, Iron Mike is or was a federal officer, and I used to represent criminal defendants. And Cornflake was a prosecutor.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

pdichellis
10-08-2013, 06:29 AM
Thanks for the concise, helpful, and professional clarification on detainment.

I think my (limited) research suggested that type of scenario. The cops go looking for this guy, have enough suspicion to detain him for some questions when and where they find him, but can't haul him into an interrogation room. Just couldn't be sure. (Great insight on Miranda too.)

I'm making a note to follow comments from you and the other professionals on the board. Thanks for jumping in and best wishes for your writing.

frimble3
10-08-2013, 06:33 AM
And, you`ve mentioned several times that this is his hometown, that he and his family have history, and criminal history, here.
The officers that stop him don't have to be bad cops, just guys with long memories. Maybe one of them was in a barfight with him, back in the day? He sees him now, knows his history, figures he's trouble, looks him up, sees he's a parolee, and decides to encourage him to leave town.

Stacia Kane
10-09-2013, 03:20 PM
Again, just want to say thanks to everyone for the help & suggestions! It's all appreciated.