Crime Scene Question


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  1. #1
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    NEED HELP WITH CRIME SCENE

    I have a scene at the start of a chapter where two people are murdered (known to the reader) at night in a workplace (known to the reader). The next morning, the MC goes to work and people are standing outside the building (entrances have yellow tape). Do the police have to notify everyone of who was murdered? Take suspects in right away? Etc.

    Question where can I get info about crime scenes and how they're handled by police?
    Last edited by Snowflake; July 27th, 2015 at 02:49 AM.
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  2. #2
    Well, you can always ask a cop. I'm not 100% sure myself, but I believe cops don't have to tell anyone anything at a crime scene. Otherwise, the press would take serious advantage. But I'm no cop, so don't quote me. I believe some of these regulations and laws also sometimes vary by city or state... so it's best to do some real research in this area.

    Though I will say, I'm 99% sure they don't have a time clock on when they have to take suspects in, aside from statue of limitations--which always depends on the crime (in the case of murder, there is no statute). In fact, they don't bring a suspect in until a warrant can be issued, from a judge.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bishop View Post
    Well, you can always ask a cop. I'm not 100% sure myself, but I believe cops don't have to tell anyone anything at a crime scene. Otherwise, the press would take serious advantage. But I'm no cop, so don't quote me. I believe some of these regulations and laws also sometimes vary by city or state... so it's best to do some real research in this area.

    Though I will say, I'm 99% sure they don't have a time clock on when they have to take suspects in, aside from statue of limitations--which always depends on the crime (in the case of murder, there is no statute). In fact, they don't bring a suspect in until a warrant can be issued, from a judge.

    Thanks, Bishop! My plot has been brewing in my brain for a long time. I needed an ending, but I also wanted my story to be fairly close to the real story it's based on. I felt very uncomfortable with throwing in murder at the end (just before the actual one paragraph twist ending), but it fit so well I didn't want to delete it. The murders fit the story line perfectly. In other words, the reader would say, "Ok, this makes sense."

    The problem now, is that part of me cringes at the idea of leading the reader astray by making the murder a dream. (I may not have to be precise about how murders are handled after all). The reader would wind up thinking the murder is the end of the novel, but I just added one more paragraph that gives the novel a pretty darn good twist ending.

    My new question is: Is a dream considered a "cheap shot" in novels?
    Last edited by Snowflake; July 27th, 2015 at 06:29 PM.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowflake View Post
    I have a scene at the start of a chapter where two people are murdered (known to the reader) at night in a workplace (known to the reader). The next morning, the MC goes to work and people are standing outside the building (entrances have yellow tape). Do the police have to notify everyone of who was murdered? Take suspects in right away? Etc.

    Question where can I get info about crime scenes and how they're handled by police?
    Over here in the UK there is a book by Michael O'Byrne called "The Crime Writers Guide To Police Practice And Procedure" I'm sure there must be others knocking about too...... if you live elsewhere than the UK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kepharel View Post
    Over here in the UK there is a book by Michael O'Byrne called "The Crime Writers Guide To Police Practice And Procedure" I'm sure there must be others knocking about too...... if you live elsewhere than the UK
    Thanks, Kepharel. Just as an aside, on your side of the pond, is it true police have switched from bobby sticks to guns? If so, when did it happen?
    Last edited by Snowflake; July 27th, 2015 at 05:42 PM.
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  6. #6
    A simple google search for "crime scene procedures' will get you plenty of resources. Cops are under no obligation to tell anyone anything about an on-going investigation, in fact, quite the contrary. I'd also suggest avoiding making the murders part of a dream. Readers generally hate the "Surprise! It was all a dream!" trope.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowflake View Post
    I have a scene at the start of a chapter where two people are murdered (known to the reader) at night in a workplace (known to the reader). The next morning, the MC goes to work and people are standing outside the building (entrances have yellow tape). Do the police have to notify everyone of who was murdered? Take suspects in right away? Etc.

    Question where can I get info about crime scenes and how they're handled by police?
    They won't have any suspects to start with. If they're coming into a fresh crime scene, the first thing they'll do is start a canvass to find out if anyone saw anything, heard anything, etcetera. If it's a workplace, the building will have cameras. The footage may be requisitioned and pored over to see if any leads develop. Then, they'll start to rule out suspects. If that means talking individually to each worker, they'll do that, but usually they'll ask for alibis from each one and check them for authenticity. Once they whittle away numbers and narrow the field down, that will make it easier to identify and detain any suspects from there.

    They won't extensively question each and every worker, nor do they have to inform anyone of the details from the get-go. If any disclosure is required, it won't be done until the news is broken to the family and/or next of kin. Bear in mind, also, that if the forensics team hasn't arrived on-site by the time your MC checks in, the police will almost certainly* not know the identity of the deceased and therefore refrain from divulging any information whatsoever to employees or passers-by.

    *Unless, of course, you want to go with the old "wallet found on person" trick, but even that may not be definitive.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    A simple google search for "crime scene procedures' will get you plenty of resources. Cops are under no obligation to tell anyone anything about an on-going investigation, in fact, quite the contrary. I'd also suggest avoiding making the murders part of a dream. Readers generally hate the "Surprise! It was all a dream!" trope.
    Thanks for the info, Terry. Now about the murder turning out to be a dream...

    I've been trying to follow a story based on reality, and so far (47K words, before editing) it's going okay, around 85% reality and 15% fiction, more or less, and I'm trying to stay to that ratio. However, I also want to have a murder because it fits the story so well. I have to turn it into a dream or else it throws off my 80-20 ratio. I don't want to ruin the story (and as you said, readers hate finding a murder has been a dream). However, immediately after she wakes up (and in only one paragraph) the murder/dream, and the resolution to the romance, and the resolution of the MC's main conflict, is revealed in a one paragraph twist ending right after the dream ends. It all fits together so well right now, I'd hate to have readers turned off because of the dream at the end of the story, but I can't see another way.... at least not yet.

    Oh, no! Now I'm wringing my hands...arrgghh!
    Last edited by Snowflake; July 27th, 2015 at 05:47 PM.
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  9. #9
    Anything can work if done well, so, if the dream is essential to your story, go for it. Just be aware that the 'dream resolution' is considered pretty cliche, so you are going to have to do it very well.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    They won't have any suspects to start with. If they're coming into a fresh crime scene, the first thing they'll do is start a canvass to find out if anyone saw anything, heard anything, etcetera. If it's a workplace, the building will have cameras. The footage may be requisitioned and pored over to see if any leads develop. Then, they'll start to rule out suspects. If that means talking individually to each worker, they'll do that, but usually they'll ask for alibis from each one and check them for authenticity. Once they whittle away numbers and narrow the field down, that will make it easier to identify and detain any suspects from there.

    They won't extensively question each and every worker, nor do they have to inform anyone of the details from the get-go. If any disclosure is required, it won't be done until the news is broken to the family and/or next of kin. Bear in mind, also, that if the forensics team hasn't arrived on-site by the time your MC checks in, the police will almost certainly* not know the identity of the deceased and therefore refrain from divulging any information whatsoever to employees or passers-by.

    *Unless, of course, you want to go with the old "wallet found on person" trick, but even that may not be definitive.
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    Anything can work if done well, so, if the dream is essential to your story, go for it. Just be aware that the 'dream resolution' is considered pretty cliche, so you are going to have to do it very well.
    Thanks, Terry.

    The dream isn't the actual resolution of the story. The dream comes at the end of the novel leading readers to believe the dream events are the resolution of the book, but when the MC wakes up, one last paragraph will be the twist ending.
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