Why shouldn't you run away from the cops when falsely accused?


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    Why shouldn't you run away from the cops when falsely accused?

    A new topic, ripped straight from the forums.

    The situation:
    you've been falsely accused of a crime. The cops have just shown up to arrest you. Should you stay or run for it?

    Try to consider the question from both real world and "as fiction" perspectives as I think the answer can vary for what makes sense in the real world vs. a fiction (like a story or RPG).

    I see the basic foundation of the why you should stay argument being that if you run, you look guilty (and technically may also be resisting arrest).

    However, the oft unstated counter argument is that if the authorities are so inept or corrupt as to move forward on false information to authorize an arrest, what kind of justice are you really expecting to see? You're basically looking at spending time in the local jail and then prison where as a non-hardened criminal, you can expect to get shanked, bubba'd or infected with something.

    In the real world, you probably need to cooperate. Cops have bullets and nothing's immune to bullets. You might have to weigh that choice on the overall corruptness of the local government (that is, do you live in a place where everybody knows the cops are crooked). Plus, hopefully going in is just an interview and release. Otherwise, you'll need to become the next Pancho Villa and head for the hills as a new resistance fighter.

    In fiction, the protagonist seldom accepts arrest. He always runs and fights to clear his name. The story would suck if "Harry Potter turned himself in to the Dementors and spent the rest of his days rotting in Azkaban."

    America was founded on the principal that we don't tolerate wrongful searches, siezures, detentions and arrests. It's actually mind-boggling to see that we've now moved to "if he ran, he must be guilty" when our cultural background says "if he ran, it's because the authorities were wrong!"

 

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    The counters I immediately thought of were:

    - How do you know you're the only suspect?
    - How do you know they've already decided you're guilty, instead of just arresting you to question you?
    - How do you even know you're a suspect at all. Maybe they're simply there to bring you in for questioning. Maybe they think you're a key witness?

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    In real life running is just stupid because you have now broken the law and you resisted arrest which is a crime. So if you were innocent before you are now guilty of a crime.

    In fiction it really depends on the setting. In a modern setting I think it would depend on the laws. In a Shadowrun game I ran from Lonestar once. The consequence for getting arrested was something my mage was not willing to face. My character had taken the flaw claustrophobia especially if anything was put over her head. The way they control mages is to put a tight fighting hood over their heads.

    Also since my character was simless being arrested was a bad thing. For my character it made sense to try and run. Being on the lam was not going to change my runner lifestyle in anyway.

    In a fantasy setting I think it depends on several things. Are you willing to never come back to the area. Do you mind having a possible price on your head. How does the rest of the party feel about it.

    I think running is usually a poor choice unless you know that the law is corrupt and you don't stand a chance of being treated fairly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janx View Post
    America was founded on the principal that we don't tolerate wrongful searches, siezures, detentions and arrests. It's actually mind-boggling to see that we've now moved to "if he ran, he must be guilty" when our cultural background says "if he ran, it's because the authorities were wrong!"
    I don't think that was ever the case.

    I would not run because I'd get caught. I don't have a place that to hide out that they couldn't find. They'd talk to my friends and family and they would soon learn my tendencies. I don't have enough fast cash hidden away to get me out of here unnoticed.

  • #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Janx View Post
    The situation:
    you've been falsely accused of a crime. The cops have just shown up to arrest you. Should you stay or run for it?
    Stay and fight if they don't have a warrant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janx View Post
    A new topic, ripped straight from the forums.

    The situation:
    you've been falsely accused of a crime. The cops have just shown up to arrest you. Should you stay or run for it?

    Try to consider the question from both real world and "as fiction" perspectives as I think the answer can vary for what makes sense in the real world vs. a fiction (like a story or RPG).
    In real life, you have to stay, hard as that may be. Running makes you look guilty, and also cuts you off from any and all mechanisms that might be able to help you.

    In an RPG, it really depends on the setting. But in most cases my character would run - the game is almost always more fun that way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janx View Post
    America was founded on the principal that we don't tolerate wrongful searches, siezures, detentions and arrests.
    Note that "wrongful arrest" is not "I'm not guilty". It is "I'm not guilty, and you darned well knew it!" Same for searches and seizures.

    Here's the thing: you want to run if you are accused, but you know you are innocent. So, what you really want is for them to only arrest the guilty, right? How is that possible? That means they'd have to actually determine guilt or innocence before arrest, in absentia. So, the accused would not be present for trial, and would have no opportunity to defend themselves.

    Does that sound like a good idea? I didn't think so.

    Having some innocent people arrested and put through the process is one of the prices of getting those who do harm out of the way of law-abiding citizens. The other alternatives are 1) having guilt determined in absentia, 2) not dealing with criminals at all, or 3) living outside the society of humankind. Take your pick.

    Whether or not it makes sense to run in your fantasy world depends on the world/state in question. If the government is well-known for incarcerating people without fair trial, then running may make some sense.

    In a game, if you know the authorities are actually fair, but you've been framed or the circumstances make it look really bad for you, running may make some sense, if only because "The Fugitive" style prove-your-innocence-on-the-run stories can be fun.

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    In a real scenario, situational factors are very important.

    For example, if a police officer comes to the door of your house ith a warrant to arrest you for a crime you didn't commit, you should probably cooperate, and call a lawyer.

    If you are a member of a commonly targeted demographic group and are walking down the street at night doing nothing illegal, and you hear sirens, you should probably run and hide.

    There is not much point in trying to actively resist law enforcement, but you do want to avoid encountering them if at all possible. There are only two likely outcomes to such an encounter: either nothing happens or something bad happens. The risk-benefit of trying to deal with the police falls heavily on the risk side, and I would caution anyone who expects to be treated fairly by law enforcement that this may not happen.

    In most fictional scenarios, it definitely won't happen, which is why the heroes always resist.
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    In fiction: run. Run every time...as long as you actually have a chance to do so.* Better narrative.

    IRL: stay. Always stay unless you are in a broken state (see Syria, Iron Curtain-era Czechoslovakia, etc.), because your odds of exoneration go up when you don't make the investigators more convinced of your guilt by fleeing.











    * Do not run if you are staring down the smoking barrel of the Arch-Warden's Staff of Awesome just after he incinerated a 2000 year old oak as a warning shot.
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