I’m thinking of “On the Road” and “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”; petty crimes and/or illegal drug use are admitted to/revealed. Why aren’t there any attempts at prosecution of those crimes?
The defendant could always claim they made it all up to sell more copies. It’s not perjury since books aren’t written under oath.
Cops usually have better stuff to do, though if you’re egregious enough and if you piss 'em off they may open an investigation against you. Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell invited the FBI & IRS to look at him closer when he said in an interview: “Only the mafia makes more money than we do.”
Prosecution also has to be based on specific events at specific times. You can’t be arrested for an illegal drug “sometime” “someplace”. The when and where are crucial to a judge. Additionally, the prosecution has to have proof of the drug in a person’s possession, witnesses, or other evidence to tie a specific crime down. “I stole a car once” is not proof of a crime. The police have to connect that to stealing a 1938 Hupmobile parked on the corner of Kesey and Sunshine at 3:48 am on Tuesday, August 16, in Hooverville, AL for a conviction to be upheld.
The Jim Carrey film Dark Crimes that is about to be released on video is based on exactly this scenario.
The book is based on a New Yorker article by David Grann, about a gruesome murder in Poland, and a detective who pursued a suspect who had written a book describing a similar crime.
The story deals in part with the issue of whether you can be convicted based on evidence from a book you wrote.
Your bare statement “I killed a guy once” isn’t enough to get you convicted of murder.
It could be enough for the cops to investigate you, and maybe link you to an actual open case. But like Exapno said, you can’t be convicted of killing somebody once. You can only be prosecuted for killing an actual person at an actual place and time.
To take only the most obvious problems, if I just say “I killed a guy once”, and the prosecutors in, say, Alabama decide to prosecute me for murder, how do they establish that the alleged crime took place in Alabama?
And for things like drug use and petty theft, there’s also statutes of limitations to consider. Even if you say in your book “In 2005 I broke into 1313 Mockingbird Lane in Hollywood California and stole $20”, jurisdiction is established, the exact crime is established, but the case can’t be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations.
Don’t confess to murder in your next book though, because the statue of limitations usually doesn’t apply.
The desire to confess or the need to boast?
It is not illegal at all to HAVE TAKEN illegal drugs even 15 minutes ago. The real crime is possession or current distribution. I wouldn’t recommend it but you could get loaded up on heroin/LSD/Ecstasy or anything else, march right down to the police station and confess, and there is nothing they could do except send you to the hospital. Celebrities admit to it all the time on national TV and nothing happens because it can’t.
If we’re talking literally 15 minutes, the cops might argue that pills in your digestive tract, or the drug in your bloodstream, or whatever, constitute “possession”. But the next morning? Maybe.
Why couldn’t they charge you with possession fifteen minutes ago and use your confession as evidence?
A written account depending on how detailed and accurate could be used as evidence. It certainly isn’t enough to be probable cause for a warrant. Even an in person confession isn’t enough unless the statements can be tied to other evidence.
Because it isn’t retroactive assuming you really don’t have anything on you. Being in your bloodstream doesn’t count. It wouldn’t be wise for it to be that way either. It is better to have overdose victims and addicts seek help from medical professionals instead of worrying about rather they will be arrested for it. I can tell you about all the times that I drove intoxicated years ago freely but good luck getting anyone to do anything about that now even if they knew who I am. Some things that happened in the past aren’t just not prosecutable, they aren’t a crime legally speaking at all if you don’t get caught in the act. There is nothing the police can do unless they catch you in the act.
If I am on a jury and the police testify that John Doe came into the station and said that at 7:45pm on August 1, 20XX, he injected heroin into his arm, unless John Doe perjures himself and denies the allegation (and even then it is a credibility contest), that is pretty compelling evidence for me.
Convictions are gained all of the time without tangible physical evidence and based upon only the word of someone (uncorroborated rape allegations for example).
In the movie Basic Instinct – yes, Basic Instinct actually had a plot – Sharon Stone uses as an alibi the fact that she wrote a murder mystery novel which almost exactly matches the murder Michael Douglas was investigating.
Lemur866 wrote: "Your bare statement “I killed a guy once” isn’t enough to get you convicted of murder.
I hear the police investigated Johnny Cash for a suspected homicide in Reno NV.
What crime would John Doe be charged with?
Possession of heroin. He admitted to possessing it just prior to injecting it into his arm.
I understand that Heidi Fleiss, the “Hollywood Madame”, ended up being charged because of her success in the media (although she didn’t have a book out yet). I don’t think any of the case was built on her admissions in print or on TV, but these certainly focused attention on her and impelled the powers that be to investigate her and charge her for the infractions she’d admitted to publicly. As stated above, just saying something or writing it in a situation where it’s obviously publicity won’t provide iron-clad proof of wrongdoing, but dangling your criminal actions in front of the authorities is certainly a way to get their attention so that they can find evidence that CAN be used.
How would this admission be entered into the court record as evidence? Serious question, would the prosecution even be allowed to enter a book as evidence? Who would testify as to the validity and meaning of the evidence?
Oh, no? I suggest you ask Johnny Cash.
And that was an interstate conviction, Reno being in Nevada and Folsom being in California. Talk about over reaching!