Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland

Legal opinions?

Here's a few paragraphs from the time travel thing describing its use in law enforcement. Comments on the legalities would be appreciated.

Police use of Time Ships is reserved for the most serious offences; murder, treason, and the like. Since 1895 Scotland Yard has had a Temporal Crimes Bureau, set up to help police from the future. Typically a small group of officers land discreetly, identify themselves at the Bureau, then make their way to the crime scene with "local" help. They lay in wait for the criminal, interrupt the crime, and identify the criminal. If possible they will prevent the crime; even though changes in the events of the past don't change the present, it's not in the nature of most officers to let someone get away with a serious crime. In murder cases if the victim survives he or she may be asked to come forward to the present to give evidence in the case. In all cases criminals are left in their own time, since it would be futile to punish them when the past does not affect the present. On return to the present the "real" criminal is arrested and charged, and all of the evidence gathered in the past (including the statements of victims etc.) used to obtain a conviction.

On a few occasions this technique has failed; criminals aware that they might be caught by these means have prepared elaborate deceptions in which someone else appears to commit the crime, or obscured the date and location of the crime so thoroughly that they could not be traced. Fortunately few criminals are bright enough for this. In one case the victim actually lied to protect the murderer, despite seeing photographs of her own body. She was murdered again two months later, but this time the murderer was found guilty without the need for time travel.

The legal implications of this method are a minefield. One defense - that a crime has not been convicted because it was prevented in the past - has already been eliminated by the Law Lords, in a landmark case which established that events as perceived in the present must be the only criterion, with any tampering in the past irrelevant. Questions of inheritance etc. are still determined on a case by case basis, and there have been some contradictory judgements. In general anyone brought forward to replace a deceased version of themselves is assumed to be the deceased person for purposes of inheritance. Unfortunately this has occasionally been combined with a lengthy delay between death and "resurrection", with the victim's estate passed on to his or her heirs, and no clearly established route for recovering it. In several cases (typically of spouses) a murder victim has gone on to inherit the murderer's estate. A government commission of enquiry is looking into these cases, as a prelude to drafting new legislation, but nobody is holding their breath waiting for a result...


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