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Old 01-29-2020, 12:21 PM   #1
Dimitri001
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Default Where to ask questions about US crimina law?

I'll also give you my question, in case someone here might know the answer:


If a mafia cooperator said that some guy x had killed someone and could even say where the body was buried, would that be sufficient to convict x?

It seems to me x's defense could be "He lead you to the body? HE killed that guy."
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Old 01-29-2020, 03:21 PM   #2
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Default Re: Where to ask questions about US crimina law?

If the cooperator had an airtight Alibi showing that he was nowhere near the scene of the crime. That would work.
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Old 01-29-2020, 06:13 PM   #3
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Default Re: Where to ask questions about US crimina law?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dimitri001 View Post
I'll also give you my question, in case someone here might know the answer:


If a mafia cooperator said that some guy x had killed someone and could even say where the body was buried, would that be sufficient to convict x?

It seems to me x's defense could be "He lead you to the body? HE killed that guy."
No, it wouldn't be sufficient. They would need to verify there is a dead body and rule out other suspects. They would also need to check alibis (like the other poster said) and also see if there is DNA evidence linking x or the rat himself to the dead body.

In your scenario, x would be a suspect and the guy ratting on x would be a "person of interest."

https://legaldictionary.net/person-of-interest/
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Old 01-30-2020, 02:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: Where to ask questions about US crimina law?

There are a lot of factors that would have to be in place in lieu of finding a body. People have been convicted of murder when there is enough evidence. An important aspect that also plays into the equation is motive and opportunity.
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Old 01-30-2020, 03:43 PM   #5
Dimitri001
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Default Re: Where to ask questions about US crimina law?

Can you think of some scenario where the testimony of a cooperator would be guaranteed to secure a conviction for a life term or some long sentence like 20 yearsish.

I have a scene in my screenplay where a character learns from a source in the FBI that a guy who was arrested for a robbery that night has agreed to cooperate and testify against him and he has to know in that scene that that means this guy will definitely be putting him away for life or at least a long term. It can't be a maybe I can beat this case, he has to know a conviction is certain.

So maybe the FBI/prosecutors were already building a case against him on something and they had some evidence already (and he could know this through his FBI source), but not sufficient and now that they got this cooperator it's a certain conviction.

I just don't know what kind of evidence they could have where they couldn't get a conviction, but the addition of a witness would make it a certain conviction.
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Old 01-30-2020, 07:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: Where to ask questions about US crimina law?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dimitri001 View Post
Can you think of some scenario where the testimony of a cooperator would be guaranteed to secure a conviction for a life term or some long sentence like 20 yearsish.

I have a scene in my screenplay where a character learns from a source in the FBI that a guy who was arrested for a robbery that night has agreed to cooperate and testify against him and he has to know in that scene that that means this guy will definitely be putting him away for life or at least a long term. It can't be a maybe I can beat this case, he has to know a conviction is certain.

So maybe the FBI/prosecutors were already building a case against him on something and they had some evidence already (and he could know this through his FBI source), but not sufficient and now that they got this cooperator it's a certain conviction.

I just don't know what kind of evidence they could have where they couldn't get a conviction, but the addition of a witness would make it a certain conviction.
The only type of situation I can think of off the top of my head is situations where the evidence disintegrates. Like -- the witness saw the guilty party put a body into a vat of acid (where his remains would be completely gone), or saw him bury the guy in a corn field but he doesn't know what corn field he was in and it would be next to impossible to dig up all the corn fields. It is possible to ultimately convict someone of murder without finding the body, but these cases take years and a churn through multiple suspects and scenarios. It's not the case they'd go -- Okay, so you're guilty b/c this guy says so. Not in week or months. We're talking years.

Here's a good resource of convictions w/o a body. Notice how long they take to convict. There is one in the states that took only two years, but in that case the killer confessed to the murders though the bodies were never found.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...nited_S tates

Several of these cases involve wood chippers and acid, where pieces of body were found but they were unable to do DNA on them.
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Old 01-31-2020, 06:02 AM   #7
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Default Re: Where to ask questions about US crimina law?

Hmm... what about this, what if it was a RICO case?

The context of the situation in my screenplay is that the two guys are mafiosi and the guy who would be testified against is a captain and the guy who would be testifying is a soldier in his crew.

So, suppose there were a couple of murders, or other kind of crimes that would carry a long prison sentence, that the FBI had already gathered a lot of evidence on that was pointing to someone other than the captain and suppose the cooperator was testifying that the captain is a member of the mob and that he ordered those crimes.

Because, from what I understand, the RICO laws make it so that if you can prove that a person is a member of a criminal organization and that they ordered crimes, they can be prosecuted for those crimes.

This way, the absence of the cooperator would mean that they couldn't convict the captain, only the executors of the order who actually committed the crime, but with the cooperator saying the captain ordered them, the captain becomes liable for them.

And perhaps they would have some other evidence pointing to the captain being in the mob, like video/photo evidence of meeting with known members, maybe an audio recording of him talking to members (but not incriminating himself).

Does that fly?
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:22 PM   #8
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Default Re: Where to ask questions about US crimina law?

I think the best use of your time is to hop on the internet and search until you find a parallel case. For example, I put in the search terms, "rico murder cases." High up in the search results was this case, which sort of (not all the way) parallels your story situation:

https://www.providencejournal.com/ne...ovidence-gangs

Law enforcement went after this gang as a RICO case rather than trying each gang member individually for reasons dissected in the article. Also the article notes this:

Proving the existence of an enterprise could pose a challenge, according to Jonathan M. Gutoff, a professor at the Roger Williams University School of Law.

Prosecutors will need to prove that the underlying crimes, such as DaCruz’s shooting, were part of the enterprise, he said.


RICO cases involve an enterprise. So you have to prove that first. Then the individual crimes.

I think your story situation is entirely possible. But you need to get the details right. And the best way of doing that is search for similar real-world cases in the same region your script takes place. What state, New York?
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:01 AM   #9
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Default Re: Where to ask questions about US crimina law?

lostfootage is giving you great advice.

I would add that you can ask for an interview with people involved in RICO case law. People are willing to do this, and the FBI can be a place to start because they want you to get, what they do, right. You can contact them on their website.

I've requested interview with a law enforcement officer when I was researching procedures of 911 and what a local officer would have available in their patrol car, because my character was going to commandeer one in the script.

Just go in as prepared as possible and show them the respect they deserve. Their responses can really ratchet up the authenticity of your script.

This goes for any profession that you need an "expert" POV. Even an astrophysicist.

I'm always amazed at what I can find on google and youtube. The problem sometimes is getting around those ****ing google algorithms that think you are still considering those shoes you looked at on Dillard's. My laptop is reserved mostly for writing, so my google searches deliver different results.

I wish you could just "switch" that off sometimes and just get a "pure" search, ya know?
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Old 02-03-2020, 05:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Where to ask questions about US crimina law?

In my opinion, RICO is unnecessarily complicated. As the man said years ago, too much pipe. If I understand your original question, there are many ways to work out the issue if you let your imagination go. For example, the cooperator was present when the captain killed the victim, but the victim scratched the captain bloody or ripped out some of his hair before falling back into the just-dug grave. Looking back, all realize that the DNA is still there.
Or as an alternative, the captain made a recording of the victim begging for his life as he/she was taunted by the captain. The recording was then stolen by the cooperator. Or the murder was recorded by the convenience store cameras and when the cooperator was sent to destroy the tapes he kept them.
If one of your characters mentions the word RICO it will put even the lawyers to sleep. Maybe not a bad thing.
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