Question about the film "Fracture"

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NetSquirrel | 01:01 Fri 18th Jan 2008 | Criminal
4 Answers
*Spoiler warning* Part of the plot of the film is revealed in this question.

For those not familar with the film, I will describe the plot briefly. Fracture is a cat-and-mouse story of law evasion starring the murderer Ted Crawford. Crawford is the prime suspect in the murder of his wife, yet he evades conviction for most part of the movie due to the perfection of his crime. Police are unable to gather sufficient evidence to convict the man, despite the fact that Crawford himself admits to the lead detective on the case that he killed his own wife. He later pleads not guilty in court, and from then the plot deepens, but my question is this:

If a crime leaves no evidence, and the only witness is a police officer, can the perpetrator get off Scott free by simply pleading innocence and claiming that the officer "had it in for him"?

For example, two coppers on patrol witness a man throwing a brick through a car window, and promptly arrest him. Suppose that he later pleads that he was asleep at home at the time of the crime and the police have the wrong man. In the absence of palpable evidence is the word of the officers taken?

Unlike the murder case above, the breaking of a car window is little more than a misdemeanor -- very little police effort can be spared to gather concrete evidence that the right man is convicted. Yet surely police are not granted the power to arrest whoever they like without evidence? Television teaches us that much (or is that a myth). So, in minor crimes that whittle down to a battle of: "You did it" / "No I didn't!" / "Yes you did" / "No I did not" / "I saw you do it" / "You can't have" / "Well I saw you" / "Then you need your eyes checked"...etc. what is the legal protocol?


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Generally the word of an officer alone is not enough for conviction. 2 officers who corroborate may well be enough for magistrates, probably not for a jury, they would want some other form of evidence, or perhaps a confession.
In theory, the evidence of one officer is enough and it doesn't matter what the crime is.He may be obviously truthful and accurate and the defendant may be equally the opposite, so the jury is sure of guilt.However, the standard of proof is very high in a criminal trial and the burden on proving the case rests on the prosecution,
so the court is unlikely to find the case proved when it rests entirely on one man's word against another's.If there's no evidence otherwise that any crime has ever been committed then plainly the jury is unlikely to convict.

.In practice juries tend to accept what any officer says he saw more readily than they'll accept his evidence of a confession (unless, of course, the confession is recorded on tape).It is sometimes manifestly unlikely that someone who has done a crime is going to admit it to a single policeman and then go on to deny involvement soon after and evermore.

A policeman, even just the one,describing the circumstances as an eye witness and giving details is better for the prosecution than one claiming to hear a few words of confession , if only because every detail can be examined and tested thoroughly by the defence.If the account holds up then, the jury may be satisfied that it's true. A confession may end up as a case of 'he said it' and 'no he didn't' without much more.

Some admissions and confessions fall into a special category. These are ones where the person confessing is the only person who could or would ever know particular details of the crime or even that it was committed.It does sometimes happen that a man walks into a police station or up to a policeman and says 'I've just murdered my wife' which is the only reason the police then know of the crime and go out to investigate, finding the corpse. That confession is very hard to challenge!

Basically, an officer may arrest anyone if he has reasonable suspicion that they've committed a
[ committed a] crime "

Don't know what happened there!
Just in case there is a real legal pedant out there:

I've said one officer is enough whatever the crime Not quite every crime:the Perjury Act 1911 requires two or more witnesses to prove the falsity of the statement concerned. One is not enough.At one time there were other crimes and cases that required two witnesses.One I remember was an offence of failing to maintain a bridge!

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