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I am looking for info on suspect transportation and engagement with the FBI.

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  • I am looking for info on suspect transportation and engagement with the FBI.

    Hello everyone,
    I'm writing a thriller situated in a small American town, somewhere in the middle of the US (Colorado, S.Dakota). This work is fiction, and hopefully, no connection with real-life events.
    I'll try to keep the explanations brief, so it won't take long to understand the situation.

    The daughter of the prominent local businessman was brutally murdered. There is only one suspect for the case. He is a witness, and probable murderer, his role in the crime isn't apparent.

    By chance, the FBI agent is in the area, and he is investigating drug trafficking in the area. The drugs could be involved in the death, so getting info could help them to pin the criminals.

    The question is, should the suspect be transferred to the federal prison from the local PD? What if he is the only witness and can provide valuable info on the subject. Is it safe to hold him in the local PD?
    In the other case, if he should be transferred to the federal facility, is a local police officer allowed to drive him to the facility, the area is heavily flooded, so the state transfer vehicle can't reach the town.

    Any info is appreciated.
    Thanks for your time.

    Nathan
    Last edited by OldSilver; 06-30-2020, 07:18 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by OldSilver View Post
    By chance, the FBI agent was in the area, so he joined the investigation led by the sheriff.
    You have to understand that investigations tend to be territorial in nature. An FBI Agent doesn't drop by, say, "Hi, i was just in the neighborhood and wanted to know if I could help."

    Either the sheriff formally requests FBI assistance in "his" case, or for some obscure reason the case fall within FBI jurisdiction and they take over the matter.

    If the case remains a sheriff's matter, the suspect will remain in his custody. If it becomes a Federal case, the FBI will take custody of the prisoner and remove him to their facility. By mutual agreement, they may ask the SO staff to transport, but once the case becomes theirs, the prisoner is an FBI problem.



    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

    Comment


    • OldSilver
      OldSilver commented
      Editing a comment
      I appreciate your note, and it makes sense to work out this part

  • #3
    As noted, federal agents don't decide to drop by and join in on local investigations.

    Has this guy been indicted or charged at the local or federal level, or do you want him held in some type of involuntary protective custody?

    Feds typically contract with city or county jails to hold federal prisoners while they are awaiting trial or pending sentencing, so there probably isn't any pressing need to move the prisoner, but the sheriff's office would be allowed to move the prisoner if that is what was decided upon.

    Rereading your post, are you stating that law enforcement does not know the suspect is the criminal but, rather, view him as a material witness, and they want to lock him up so something doesn't happen to him? If so, your agent would need a federal material witness warrant, which are pretty hard to come by. Your guy will be outta jail faster than you can say writ of habeas corpus.

    Comment


    • OldSilver
      OldSilver commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for your help. I got some ideas for further development. If the murder is related to the drugs, the g-man should take over the investigation, and it could change the layout of the crime investigation.
      I didn't plan to use the cliche of Sheriff vs FBI, but see it makes sense in this context.

      Is it ok for the g-man to ask the sheriff for assistance in the local investigation?
      Thanks
      Last edited by OldSilver; 06-30-2020, 03:54 PM.

    • tanksoldier
      tanksoldier commented
      Editing a comment
      Nope. Even a drug case will rarely be federal jurisdiction. If the primary investigation is moving drugs across the national border or across state lines, the DEA has jurisdiction and even then most of those cases are pursued at the state level. Local drug sales are local problems.

  • #4
    So the main issue I think I have is that the story of why the FBI agent joins the investigation doesn't make any sense and so everything sort of falls apart. There has to be some reason why he joined the case. The FBI won't open a case and allow an agent to charge hours to it because he was "in the area." What is the predication for feds to be involved? There's a bunch of routes you can go with this, in descending order of how realistic the scenario is (4 and 5 are out there but enjoy some remote possibility).

    1) There is some federal nexus that in some way lead to the agent being assigned organically - perhaps you can begin your story by the businessman's daughter having been kidnapped and taken across state lines, held for ransom, etc THEN he turns up dead in this local town, boom your FBI agent being involved makes total sense and you're good.

    2) the local businessman was so prominent and influential that the Justice Department decided that sending the FBI was necessary - for example, if Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates (or their immediate family members) were murdered, fed authorities would definitely be sent in to assist the locality where it occurred. In real life, local sheriff, PD, etc. generally tend to welcome federal support for these things because of the vast resources we have. It's nothing like TV. Obviously, there are exceptions.

    3) the Sheriff for some reason requested FBI assistance for better forensics, resources, etc - although this suffers from you having to explain why the sheriff wouldn't contact the state PD first. In most of these scenarios if for example a murder happens and a small sheriff's office doesn't have the resources to investigate it, they already have an MOU or an informal agreement in place for the State PD to come in and lead or at least assist in the investigation. In a lot of states with tons of small rural areas, things like this is often the primary function of a state PD's CID unit.

    4) The agent discovered the body, and somehow convinced supervisor to let him open a case up and work it.

    5) the agent saw the suspect's wanted poster when he was out and detained him until locals arrived, and for good press/whatever reason you want the agent's supervisor is letting him work it

    Basically in short, out why the FBI agent in your story is involved, and the rest will all suddenly make sense. As for what jail/detention facility the guy would be in, it would depend on the charges. If you go with a scenario where there is no true federal nexus and it's all state charges, then there's no reason the guy would be in a federal detention facility. There's scenarios where feds work cases with local/state for some reason (say USAO declined to prosecute on federal charges but the fed agency wants to keep it open for some reason) and the only charges are state/local charges and a federal lockup isn't even remotely in anyone's mind.
    Last edited by waffledog47; 06-30-2020, 05:46 PM.

    Comment


    • OldSilver
      OldSilver commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the explanations. It's expanded my knowledge of how the FBI assists the local PD. In my case, the area is heavily flooded, and the Sheriff of the small town can't get assistance from state PD, and the feds are working in the area, so it's apparent they are the only help he can get in the area.
      Last edited by OldSilver; 06-30-2020, 07:07 PM.

    • tanksoldier
      tanksoldier commented
      Editing a comment
      Still doesn't make sense. Murder investigations take months or years. Unless some dude was building a boat and the animals turn up two-by-two a flood of a few days or weeks isn't going to change anything.

  • #5
    Generally speaking, murder is not a federal offense over which the FBI has any jurisdictional commitment (certain exceptions such as Indian reservations, some federal officials, etc). The FBI simply does not involve themselves in local murder investigations, and any assistance provided would be done on a case-by-case basis and only upon requests from local or state authorities.

    Like other federal agencies the FBI is limited statutorily to certain federal offenses, of which murder is not generally included. Even when an agent witnesses a homicide, or assault, or rape, or any of a dozen other serious offenses, the only authority that agent has to take any action is as a private citizen. Simply put, the FBI is not the national police department, they don't even show up on any local or state law enforcement organizational charts, and they have absolutely no authority to act officially in any matter not specifically mentioned in the federal laws overseeing the Bureau.

    Comment


    • OldSilver
      OldSilver commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks, I appreciate the info. Currently I build the premise and trying different approaches.
      What if the drugs are involved in the death and the feds are investigating the drug trafficking in the area, so getting more info would help them to pin the criminals.
      Thanks

    • retired1995
      retired1995 commented
      Editing a comment
      Drug crimes are not the responsibility of the FBI. The appropriate federal agency would be DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration, formerly known as the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, BNDD).

  • #6
    A couple more things to think about - if this is a small, rural sheriff, it may well be that his agency lacks the expertise and training necessary to investigate a murder. This is not unusual at all and when it occurs, the local agency traditionally turns to whatever bureau of investigation the state runs, which may be different from the state police. If they have no one available locally, they usually send folks down from the nearest big city or their headquarters, which is often in the state capital.

    As far as sheriff vs. FBI (or state), unlike what you see on television, there is often not a lot of fighting over whose will handle a case like this. Unless a department's egotistical panties are in a twist, many agencies are more than happy to kiss off to another agency, a major case that would otherwise drain their budget and resources.
    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

    Comment


    • OldSilver
      OldSilver commented
      Editing a comment
      That's exactly my case. The sheriff from the rural area faces an abnormal situation and asks the assistance from the feds, but they see the situation differently, and everyone has his interest.
      Thanks for the input, I'm looking to develop the situation believably enough and most importantly make it engaging for the audience.

    • tanksoldier
      tanksoldier commented
      Editing a comment
      True, but the FBI isn't investigating a local murder... for the same reasons, and because they don't have the statutory authority.

  • #7
    Here's another thought. I don't know of many cops who read crime books written by civilians and most civilian readers don't know bupkis about the technical issues you are concerned with, so write the book however it pleases you. Very few people will notice if it isn't exactly authentic.
    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

    Comment


    • OldSilver
      OldSilver commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes, you are right, the law enforcement professionals would laugh when reading about the investigation process in the pulp fiction. On the other hand, reading this forum helps me to build more believable characters and action, knowing more about the real people and how they would behave in such a situation.
      By the way, it's a thrilling experience to talk with a real FBI agent.
      This forum is a fantastic source of information.

  • #8
    The daughter of the prominent local businessman was brutally murdered. There is only one suspect for the case. He is a witness, and probable murderer, his role in the crime isn't apparent.
    If his role in the crime isn't apparent, why do they know he's a witness and "probable" murderer?

    By chance, the FBI agent is in the area, and he is investigating drug trafficking in the area. The drugs could be involved in the death, so getting info could help them to pin the criminals.
    FBI wouldn't be investigating drug trafficking by itself, it would have to be connected to a case they have primary jurisdiction over and would almost certainly be part of a task force. Feds don't investigate state crimes on their own.

    Now, a rural sheriff would likely call in CBI for a case at this level... pretty much anyone outside metro Denver, Fort Collins-Greeley or Colorado Springs.

    The question is, should the suspect be transferred to the federal prison from the local PD? What if he is the only witness and can provide valuable info on the subject. Is it safe to hold him in the local PD?
    Wouldn't go to a federal prison until he's convicted, and would have to be convicted of a federal crime in any case. The feds do have their own lockups in big cities but in most of the country they contract with local jails to hold the occasional federal arrestee. Your subject wouldn't be a federal suspect in any case, murder is virtually always prosecuted at the state level even when it happens somewhere with concurrent jurisdiction. In the west, Colorado specifically, jails are the purview of county Sheriffs (except in Broomfield). A few big police departments have short term holding facilities but everybody gets transferred to the county jail eventually. Aurora can hold for 72 hours in theirs, I think everybody else is less than 24 hours... so the suspect is getting transferred to the county jail within 24 hours anyway.

    ...and that's if he can't make bail. The Colorado Constitution guarantees bail for everyone, and the defendant's probability of showing up for court can't be used as a factor in setting bail, only their danger to the community. The facts of the case determine that danger: a murder suspect who killed his wife when he found her with another man isn't really a danger to anyone else. He had specific reasons for killing that specific person.

    So, Your dude will probably be granted some bond amount, and some bail bondsman will pay it. So, within 48-72 hours at most your guy is on the street anyway.,, maybe less than 24 hours depending on where and when it happens.

    In the other case, if he should be transferred to the federal facility, is a local police officer allowed to drive him to the facility, the area is heavily flooded, so the state transfer vehicle can't reach the town.
    Again, what federal facility and what "state transfer vehicle". There's a low-level federal prison in Englewood, but it only holds convicts. It isn't a jail. The state doesn't move inmates between jails, that's the Sheriffs' job. Occasionally State Troopers do it under contract with the county, but it's still the Sheriff's responsibility. County sheriffs transport those convicted in county or district court and sentenced to the custody of the Department of Corrections, either to the halfway house they are assigned to or to DRDC, the Department of Corrections intake facility in Aurora. When a particular inmate has cases in multiple counties the various sheriffs coordinate moving him around for his court dates. I got a warrant on a guy with cases in six other counties... mine made 7... he racked up some serious road miles.

    Either way, your guy is a suspected murderer: he will be held in a county jail, either the one where the crime was committed or one nearby if the county doesn't have a jail or doesn't feel comfortable keeping someone accused of that level crime. He will make bail eventually, depending on the facts of the crime.

    Often in big cases where there isn't a danger to the general public you don't make an arrest right away because that starts the "speedy trial" clock... the trial has to start within six months of the arraignment.
    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

    "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

    Comment


    • OldSilver
      OldSilver commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the info. I'm going to substitute an FBI agent with a CBI professional who came to assist with the investigation of the case. That's a great tip.
      The suspect was found drunk at the house where the murder was committed. His fingerprints all over the place, he was a boyfriend of the victim.

      I'm stunned that a murder suspect can make bail, in case there is no danger for the general public.

      Your tips are fantastic, thanks.
      .
      Last edited by OldSilver; Yesterday, 02:05 PM.

  • #9
    Here’s a dated opinion DOJ memorandum from the office of legal counsel concerning FBI arrest authority. It can provide you some good insight.

    On the Federal side (as mentioned earlier) an individual is not placed in a BOP (Bureau of Prison) facility until he has been convicted and sentenced. Pre conviction federal arrests fall under the US Marshals Service. The USMS contracts with local jails to house these individuals while they are pending charges/on trial. Essentially the individual will be in a county jail but is considered a federal inmate.

    https://www.justice.gov/file/20251/download
    “Right now I'm having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before.” - Steven Wright

    US Army MP (95B) 1992-1997
    DOJ Agent/ DHS Officer 1997 to Present

    Comment


    • OldSilver
      OldSilver commented
      Editing a comment
      This document is a piece of exceptional advice, and I got another story about FBI agents in development, so it's going to help me.
      Thanks for the great source.

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