September 10th, 2012

[Firefly] Inara

Prosecution and Sentencing of a Kidnapping/Unlawful Imprisonment

I'm currently writing a short story with a very specific situation in mind, and I'd love it if any lawyers or police officers or someone with a strong knowledge of law could weigh in on this!

NOTE: All of this happens in the state of Vermont.

Liam, forty, goes to see his former student, Brigid, who is now twenty-one.  He asks her to come with him to help him and his friend Sinclair with something only she can do, and she willingly agrees, since she knows and trusts him.  He drives her to an estate in the countryside, where he introduces her to his friend Sinclair.  Sinclair then surprises both of them by having his two hired hands imprison Brigid in a basement room.  Liam tries to talk him out of it, but Sinclair threatens Liam (this threat turns out to be unsubstantiated, but still) to keep him quiet about it, and so Liam does nothing.

Brigid remains held against her will in the basement for two weeks, and everyday Sinclair would draw her blood to experiment on it (that's why he wanted her in the first place).  Finally, Brigid comes up with a plan and manages to escape, with the help of Liam's girlfriend Molly, who was completely unaware of what her boyfriend Liam and cousin Sinclair were doing.  Brigid then goes home and decides she wants to press charges.

I have several questions:

a) Is Brigid's testimony enough proof to take this sort of thing to trial? Couldn't this very easily turn into a he said/she said situation that the prosecution wouldn't want to take to trial for fear of losing?

b) What sort of charges could Brigid press against them? She went to their house willingly, but under false pretenses, but Liam was unaware that he was being tricked as well, and Sinclair didn't drive Brigid.  So, would anyone be charged with kidnapping here, or simply unlawful imprisonment? What about drawing her blood - is that considered assault? Would Liam only be an accessory to all this? Also, Sinclair is British, not American, so would he still be tried and sent to prison here?

c) Would the prosecution be likely to offer Liam or Sinclair a plea bargain? What would their sentence be if they took a plea?

d) I'm guessing Molly would be forced to testify that Brigid was in the house or be in contempt or perjure herself?

e) Could the police obtain a search warrant of Sinclair's house (which is actually registered to Molly; he just lives there) just based on Brigid's testimony? How quickly would they be able to obtain this for a case like this?

f) What physical evidence could Brigid provide? I suppose the needle marks, but would the police get a forensic expert to examine her clothes and a medical examiner to examine her body?

g) Brigid lives in a very small town with a single Sheriff and a deputy.  Would they be the one to handle the interrogation and processing of Liam and Sinclair? And would they be the ones to act on the search warrant? Would such a small town have a medical/forensic examiner on hand? If not, would they go to the state  capital or the nearest city?

I googled plea bargains for kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment sentencing, search warrant procedure, and did some reading on the legal system in general, but I couldn't find the specifics I needed.

Thanks, guys!