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Criminal Law/Novel research; court date and imprisonment following murder arrest


In the crime story that I am currently working on, the murderer has killed seven people in seventeen days. She used the same knife as her weapon in all seven murders. Trace evidence of her hair, clothing fibres, fingerprints and a shoe print (on a door that was kicked in) link her to all of the scenes, along with her fingerprints on the knife. However, only one of the killings was witnessed by a citizen. After being arrested, the murderer confessed to all seven counts.

My first question is this: given the multitude of evidence and her confession, how long might it take to arrange for this woman to stand trial for her crimes, and where would she be held in the meantime? Alternatively, would she be sent straight to jail upon her arrest?

And secondly: if she were to go to court and stand trial, she would offer no evidence or witnesses in support of her innocence. How would the hearing proceed with this factor in mind?

I hope this finds you in good health, and thank very much in advance you for your time.


Thanks very much.  That is fine.

Now I notice we have a small problem.  I am guessing that your novel is set in the UK?  Your court system is completely different than ours so I am going to have to base my answers on the way the case would be handled in the USA.

You see if you were asking about how to fix your computer or how to grow tomatoes then the answer would be the same all over the world.  But when it comes to law, the police, and the court system every country has its own system.

The way I see it if she was arrested by the police and was charged with one murder based on the eye witness and then she sat down and confessed to the other murders I don't see a trial happening.  I am basing this on the way the system works in the USA.  She would most likely plead guilty to the seven murders.  It would not make much sense to stand trial because the forensic evidence would undoubtedly link her knife to the other six murders and that would unrefutable.  In addition her confession would only bolster the states case against her.

If she did choose to plead not guilty and stand trial it might be a year or more later in this country.  The reason is that undoubtedly one or both sides would want her examined by doctors to see if she was sane.  That would take quite a bit of time.  In addition there would be a ton of evidence to be examined.

Yes she would be sent straight to jail to await trial (or her guilty plea).

Are you assuming that she would offer no evidence or witnesses to support her innocence?  How about expert witnesses who routinely testify for the defense in cases involving DNA, fingerprints, etc?  They are in business to put doubt in the jury's mind.

Again all of this applies to the United States.  Hopefully your novel is set in the United States because what I have talked about might not be true in the UK.  I am not even sure if a defendant is allowed to plead guilty in the UK.

If it was me and I was writing this novel AND it had to be set in the UK I would find myself a friendly police officer and run this whole thing by him.  A visit to your local police station would surely turn up a constable or whoever who might sit down with you for ten minutes and read my notes and see if they would apply to your country.

Please don't hesitate to follow up on this question if you want (for free!!).

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Jack Toomey


If you are an author asking for help I will gladly assist you. I do expect a reasonable donation using the Paypal feature. Please do NOT ask questions about potential jail sentences that you or your friends may receive in court. court. There is no way for me to know that. Only a judge could answer a question like that. I am also NOT a probation officer or parole officer so I cannot answer questions that relate to parole or probation. Also please keep in mind that every state has different laws. If you are planning to ask a question about a specific law or criminal charge that pertains to your state only it could be difficult to answer. I also cannot give you legal advice on what to do or what not to do in court. Retired police officer with 26 years experience. Worked in the patrol division as well as over 14 years in the detective bureau. Investigated a wide range of crime such as murder, rape, robbery, theft, fraud, missing persons, and other very sensitive crimes. I am available to answer your questions about criminal law and especially as it applies to police work. I taught at the police academy for several years and am especially knowledgeable about search and seizure. Any question about criminal law is welcome! Please don't ask me to do your homework or ask me questions that obviously come from your teachers or professors. I also do not do online interviews or surveys. Young people need to gain face to face interviewing skills. Local police officers usually are very agreeable to assist in these assignments.


I am a retired police officer with 26 years experience. I investigated almost every type of crime including murder, rape, theft, missing persons, fraud, and domestic abuse. I am very knowledgeable about search and seizure and taught at the police academy for several years on a variety of subjects. I can answer questions that a lot of attorneys cannot since they do not have "street experience".

Bachelor of Science degree in Criminolgy from the University of Maryland.

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