Fiction Research - Exonerating the Innocent Under Criminal Law?

Discussion in 'Criminal Law Forum' started by justawriter, 24 January 2020.

  1. justawriter

    justawriter Member

    Joined:
    24 January 2020
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    First up, I'm an aspiring writer and this is all fictional. I've tried to research extensively online but I'm struggling to find specific info (particularly Australian) relevant to my story. I have about a hundred things I could ask, but for now, I'm sticking with my most pressing concern, the question stumping me from writing the last two chapters of my novel.

    What is the quickest way to get an innocent man out of prison under criminal law?

    I know -- ordinarily; it takes months, years, decades. But I don't have that timeframe for my story. I'm hoping 3-4 weeks max, ideally, less (1-2). But is there anything that would make it realistically possible? If not, what is the shortest realistic timeframe? It's fiction, so I'm completely open here with what needs to happen to get the guy out and I don't mean escape ;)

    There's a new confession, which I know means little, and possibly new evidence, but then from what I understand that would mean going through months of a retrial process. I really need to speed that up somehow but I also don't want to skimp on the details and make it unbelievable. I'm sure I read an article somewhere about someone being released days after a new confession/evidence came to light, but that's in the gross vast minority and I cannot find the article again.

    Some more detailed info (for you to read or ignore):
    The innocent man is serving a life sentence, into its 16th year, for falsely confessing to two murders--one of these being high-profile. He's never appealed his case before now. Evidence was based on his confession, fingerprints & returning to the crime scene. Now, the real perpetrator has been arrested on multiple indictment charges and is confessing to these as well. He may or may not have video evidence clearly showing the first murder and innocent man as a bystander. Doesn't help for the high-profile murder, but anyone who looks at these cases is going to think it's pretty obvious he's been innocent all along.

    I was going to have him deliver a powerful victim impact statement, either at his own trial or as evidence in the perpetrators, but at this point, I don't even know what the court process would be. All well and good to have undeniable video evidence, but not if it's caught up in months of paperwork. Question is if the justice system would allow for a quick way out, a quick admittance of wrong and wanting to correct the error of judgement or is my story flawed with years of legal battles to wade through before he can come out the other end. o_O What would the timeframe be from the perpetrator's arrest to the innocent man's exoneration?

    Greatly appreciate any help, even just a point in the right direction... This story has been years in the making and I really just need it to be done. :( I understand the people here are trying to give/receive help for real-life cases, but I feel like I've exhausted myself and Google trying to find anything relevant or similar, so thank you to anyone that takes the time to read this.
     
  2. Scruff

    Scruff Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    25 July 2018
    Messages:
    815
    Likes Received:
    125
    I'm more of a movie buff than a reader, but what you're worrying about here happens all the time in fiction - you can't drag the story out in a realistic way without getting into the real killer's trial and sentencing. The problem is continuity, so you might not want to focus on that, especially if you have intertwining storylines and/or you simply want to stay focused on the innocent character.

    There's plenty of movies out there with the "innocent guy released after real killer caught" type of ending, many of which would be based on books. I'd recommend having a look at some of those books to see how the writer transitions from the arrest of the killer to the innocent guy's release. For fiction, I doubt many would spend too much time on it, so doing a bit of reading should give you some ideas - not about content, but about the writing style, which is what you're after.

    Personally, I think you might run into a bigger problem though. That is, why does your killer suddenly develop a conscience after 16 years and confess? Admittedly, I don't know the story, but on the surface, that comes across as more unrealistic than the the shortened timeframe issue that you're worried about. You'll need to put a lot of thought into how you set that up and you may even need a bit of backstory to help your audience understand why your killer suddenly acts in such an unexpected way.

    Just some thoughts from someone who likes movies along these lines, but doesn't like major plot points that raise questions which are left unanswered. I don't like to be spoon fed when reading a book or watching a movie, but I don't like to be left scratching my head at the end either. As a writer, you want to leave your audience with a feeling of satisfaction having read your book, not confusion.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    #2 Scruff, 24 January 2020
    Last edited: 24 January 2020
    justawriter likes this.
  3. justawriter

    justawriter Member

    Joined:
    24 January 2020
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for your input :) Do you have any of these movie recommendations?

    I really just want to tie up the loose ends and say he got out, the bad guy got pinned, the end. I don't need to start a lengthy court process in my final chapters, but I'd also like to be able to put a timeline on it -- It took X amount of days before he walked out a free man, etc.

    There may eventually come a sequel (and then I guess the killer's trial would continue throughout this), but I'd also like the book to be able to stand alone, and if that's the case there will be some open questions and mysteries. It's a matter of finding the right balance!

    As you say, don't want readers to be left with confusion either. That's certainly something I do need to go back over and check as I know there are a few grey areas. I have, however, deeply considered why the killer confesses and I hope I've conveyed that in my writing! :confused:
     
Loading...
Similar Threads - Fiction Research Exonerating
  1. AnHonourableMan
    Replies:
    0
    Views:
    161

Share This Page

Loading...
gt;