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Fiction Writer Beware: Anything You Say May Be Used Against You

Posted on by Townsend Myers
Photo Courtesy of Jeffness

A work of fiction written by a person charged with a crime can be used against the author in court. So says a new decision from the Michigan Supreme Court, which holds that a story written by a defendant can be used as evidence of his or her intent to commit a crime.

Last week in a blog post I posed the question whether Ice-T’s song “Cop Killer” could be used against him as evidence of his intent if he were charged in criminal court with killing a police officer. Apparently, I’m not the only one asking such questions.

The question before Michigan’s highest court was whether a story a defendant had written depicting graphic scenes of incest between siblings and their father could be used against him as evidence of his intent to commit the crime of molesting his granddaughter. The Court of Appeals said yes the graphic story can be used against the defendant, and the Supreme Court agreed with that decision.

During a hearing on the matter, Justice Stephen Markman wondered aloud if Agatha Christie’s plays should be used against her if she had been accused of murder. In the end, the decision was that the prosecution had laid out enough evidence even without the story to demonstrate the defendant’s intent and predisposition to molest his granddaughter, and that the story was just one piece of evidence.

Full text of the Supreme Court’s Order is here.



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