Conjoined twins and crime and due process

If one conjoined twin commits a crime, can the authorities arrest/jail both twins? Or do the innocent twin’s due process rights trump the authorities’ power to punish the guilty twin?

Inspired by this thread:

How about an example crime? One could certainly argue that for any felony, the other twin was certainly an accessory, and could have stopped the twin who had felonious intent.

Suppose, hypothetically, that one of these two conjoined girls commits murder. Holds a gun in her hand (the hand she controls), and threatens her twin with harm if she interferes with the commission of the deed.

Or, let’s remove the “accessory” or “could have stopped her” issue, and suppose instead that one twin harms the other. Assaults her, punches her in the face, breaks her fingers, whatever. There is definitely a perpetrator, and a victim upon whom a crime was committed.

Now what?

I think conjoined twins are generally experiencing some sort of fame from their condition, and less likely to become criminals… obviously there is no precedent on this type of crime, so it would be speculation for ANYONE to say. (and therefore not likely a GQ)

My guess is that they would have to imprison both people together. But they would try to make it so that the non-guilty twin would suffer less. Maybe make a nicer half of the bed, or give them internet access. It would also depend on how the twins were conjoined (at what body part).

Didn’t that happen in that Stuck On You movie, because one of the conjoined twins got arrested for drunk driving or something? Where the one who was arrested had to sit in the jail cell, and the other guy had to sit on a chair outside the cell, with the not-quite-closed jail cell door in between them?

So you just ignore the innocent twin’s constitutional rights?

On the TV show QI Stephen Fry says that the Bunker twins were arrested when one of them punched someone and was charged with assault. The judge threw the case out as it would amount to false imprisonment of the other twin.

According to Blackstone’s formulation, you certainly wouldn’t imprison the twins.

The alternative is letting a convicted murderer walk free. What alternative do you recommend?

Two (non-conjoined) individuals walk out of a room where there is a dead body. Each accuses the other of committing the murder. Hundreds of witnesses saw them both walk into the room with the victim, so it is obvious that one of the two must be the killer. There is no forensic evidence whatsoever.

Therefore, you should imprison both of them because the alternative is letting a murderer walk free. What alternative do you recommend?

I can’t find the cite, but several years ago the L.A. County prosecutor convicted in separate trials, two suspects for first degree murder of an individual, even though only one of them actually killed the victim. IIRC, both of the suspects fired guns at the victim in his car, but only one of the bullets actually killed him, and investigators couldn’t determine who fired the fatal shot.

There was an appeal that was denied from second convicted man that since the prosecutors had obtained a guilty verdict of first degree murder for the first suspect, that he should never have been tried for the same charge of first degree murder. Don’t know how far the appeals process went, but that is one example where two people were penalized for a crime that only one of them committed.

Ooh, tough question. Imprison an innocent person or let a guilty one go free. Um, you let the guilty one free of course. How is imprisoning an innocent person not worse than letting the guilty walk?

I’d guess that murder and drunk driving might make the non-offending twin at least an implicit accomplice. But what about white collar crimes? Say that Bernie Madoff had a blind and mildly retarded conjoined twin who couldn’t plausibly have participated in his Ponzi scheme in any meaningful way. Would they still be doing 150 years together?

While it seems like a straightforward answer on the surface (you can’t punish an innocent person), surely there’s a certain moral hazard involved in that a seriously off the rails conjoined twin could theorize “well, no matter what I do (so long as I make sure my twin isn’t an accomplice) they can’t jail me, so I can do anything I like.”

Yeah, I think the odds are good they go free after the first crime. The second one lands them both in the tank based on the common law premise of “enough is enough.”

yes, I’m aware of the legal butchery I just perp’d

I don’t think it would actually matter which gun fired the fatal bullet. If they were working together as a team with an intent to kill or injure the victim then they are both murderers.

Also, in California, if you initiate a gun battle in which someone dies, you’re in deep doo-doo. If they both opened fire at the guy in his car, and the guy died, it doesn’t matter so much, which of them fired the actual fatal bullet. Plus, I’m not sure about the case in question, but if it was gang related or if they were shooting from a car, it would qualify as a drive-by and they would be in doo-doo even if they were just an accomplice.

Get them on the stand and ask them both who committed the murder. Give them both to life in prison, one for perjury and the other for the murder.

:confused: I don’t think there was any question about which twin had committed the murder. Why would the non-murderer commit perjury?

Does the state not have power to quarantine someone contagiously ill for being a public health hazard? If it does, then consider the innocent twin to be quarantined due to the hazard of being attached to something that’s deadly to others.

That suggestion would most likely not work even if the identity of the murderer were not known. Both conjoined twins will blame the other one, so one of them is guilty of both murder and perjury (Fifth Amendment privileges aside), the other one will be guilty of neither. But which is which?