Is there a Doctor or Lawyer in the House? Er, forum?

We have a lot of learned people here, so would some of you mind weighting in on a few legal and medical questions? I have a few questions about how fictional plots would work out in real life, and I’m sure that I’m not alone. How about we use this thread to ask questions that we hope someone might be able to answer?

To kick things off:

  1. What happens if your secret lab that does human experimentation is busted? (Dark Angel, Soul Survivor, X-Files etc). Who comes into deal with you once your misdeeds come to light, the police, FBI, or military? And what sort of legal trouble would you be in, then? Can you be convicted of crimes against humanity during peace-time, and when the victims are fellow citizens?

  2. Suppose you discover that your ova was unlawfully used to create a child without your knowledge or consent. Would you A. Be able to legally keep that child without undue legal fuss upon discovery (Ally McBeal) or B. Have to prove your fitness to adopt your own biological child (X-Files)? Does B make sense since it’s closer to kidnapping in the first place than having voluntarily given the kid up and losing your parental rights?

  3. Speaking of kids, say you discover a foundling/abandoned child (Monk, Medical Investigation, Ally McBeal, The 4400, Rocky Mountain Christmas etc), and you become attached to the kid. Is there any reason on Earth you should think it’s possible you’ll be granted custody of the child? Sure, eventually family shows up in almost every case (except the 4400 & Rocky Mountain Christmas) but are you deluding yourself that you might have a chance while it still seems like the kid is alone in the world?

3b. Suppose said foundling was under school age. How difficult would it be, legally speaking, to pass the kid off as your own? (Law & Order, Without A Trace, Desperate Housewives etc) Most people wouldn’t be investigated for having a kid who doesn’t quite look like them, would they? If you keep your nose clean and everyone stays healthy, do you really have much to worry about?

Thanks in advance for any answers, and feel free to pose additional questions.

I’ll take a stab at these two.

  1. If an abandoned child is found, the police should be called, and the child will likely be placed in custody of the state, at least temporarily. The child could be fostered by you, under state supervision, assuming you are willing and the social workers/cops don’t suspect ill intent. In theory, any interested person could petition the court for either custody or guardianship of the child. Some showing of attempting to notify the parents would be required…if the child is an infant, and unable to assist in identifying/locating its parents, and the police are unable to turn up any leads, at the very least you’d have to publish a summons for “The unknown parents of a (gender here) child born on or about (or found abandoned on or about) (date here) in __________ county, Yourstate.”
    At the hearing, you would have to testify and likely produce witnesses as to your fitness to have custody/serve as guardian. The court would likely require a home study be performed by the social workers. There would also probably be a guardian ad litem appointed, and as the moving party, you’ll probably be ordered to pay the costs thereof, which can get pricey. If a natural parent shows up, you probably lose unless that parent is unfit, or had abandoned the child for a sufficient amount of time.

3b. You’re sorta stacking the deck by making the child under school age and ruling out any need for medical treatment, as those are the two most obvious ways to attract scrutiny. However, assuming you are not a hermit, your neighbors/friends/co-workers/family members are going to notice the sudden addition to your household. They are probably also going to ask some questions. All it takes is one of them to drop a dime to the local Child Protective Services type office, and a social worker will get involved. The social worker will ask questions you probably can’t answer satisfactorily without lying your ass off. If the social worker catches you in a lie, they’ll keep digging, time and caseload permitting.

I guess, but in real life how many kids need a kidney or bone marrow transplant, or one of the other common occurances on TVland that gets them found out? I said under school age simply because it has to be easier in real life to add a kid with no school-related records to the family than one with, so I’m not sure how many people in real life would even attempt to pass off an older kid as their own.

Thanks for the answers, it’s interesting so far :slight_smile:

Probably not so many. But plenty of them have broken arms, ear infections, high fever, skinned knees, or other reasons to seek medical attention. Any contact with “the system” is risky in this situation…

IANAL, not giving legal advice, etc, but,
in 1, Kidnapping is probably the big thing. That’s frowned upon.
Medical regulation is (I think) generally not criminal–the big consequence is losing your license. Doesn’t mean you couldn’t commit crimes (probably many many counts of assault, etc) for doing so-just that human research guidelines, etc are professional, not legal.

FBI/police–depends whether there’s an interstate component (And probably, who picks up on it first).

Here’s my question, to all the police officers out there:

If a couple of officers show up at my house and I’m being questioned about my co-workers habits in the course of a homicide investigation, would I be able to just walk away in the middle of the questions because

  1. My cell phone went off,
  2. I need to get to work,
  3. I can’t be bothered

?

(Law and Order)