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Can a trial judge order the arrest of a witness who confesses?

  • 20-02-2023 9:09pm
    Registered Users Posts: 110 ✭✭

    Say there's a murder trial and during intense cross-examination of a witness, he/she breaks down, comes clean and admits to the crime. Can the trial judge order the immediate arrest of the witness who has just confessed to the crime? You see it in films sometimes. Maybe it's just in America you can do that?


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,236 ✭✭✭Claw Hammer

    The garda are ordered to arrest people constantly. A bench wrrant is an order from the court to the garda to arerest someone and bring them before the court. If a witness confessed to a murder in court, most likely they would be invited to accompany the garda to a garda station. It doesn't follow that when a witness confesses to a crime that they are guilty of it or can be proven to be guilty of it. The Enid Blyton stories always end with the nad guys goiing to jail and never show the trial. Life in the real world is different.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,232 ✭✭✭TooTired123

    Am I the only person who naturally assumes that fictional TV/film cop/crime dramas are just that, fictional, and bear little or no resemblance to real life?

    Part of the current tragedy of the disappearance/death of Nicola Bulley RIP was the sheer volume of armchair sleuths who tormented her heartbroken family with their nonsensical speculation based on nothing more then having watched every episode of Prime Suspect.

    How could anyone confuse fact with fiction like that?

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,236 ✭✭✭Claw Hammer

    A bench warrant is an order to arrest someone. It is not discretionary.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,344 ✭✭✭NUTLEY BOY

    BTW such a witness might present an evidentiary problem.

    If they give self-incriminating evidence it's future admissibility against them could be contested if they were not cautioned prior to giving the potentially incriminating admissions.

  • Registered Users Posts: 29,943 ✭✭✭✭odyssey06

    Could they be held under contempt of court or some other maneuver?

    "To follow knowledge like a sinking star..." (Tennyson's Ulysses)

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  • Registered Users Posts: 110 ✭✭EveryoneKnowsNobodyCares

    That's a very, very good point. I wonder in Irish criminal history whether that's ever happened, where someone has fessed up during a trial. I wonder what happened next.

    Anyone ever watch Matlock? His favourite trick was to get a prosecution witness (who really did it) and nail them on the stand, causing the trial to collapse, but so it often the judge ordered the arrest of the witness. Also I had the bad luck to watch a bit of Legally Blonde recently too, where this phenomenon takes place, but I've no idea how valid it is.

  • Registered Users Posts: 29,335 ✭✭✭✭HeidiHeidi

    Are you seriously using Matlock and Legally Blonde for the basis of your legal musings???


  • Registered Users Posts: 110 ✭✭EveryoneKnowsNobodyCares

    Don't put it like that, you'll have me laughed off the site! 😂 They're the basis for my legal curiosities; I'm just curious now as to whether what happened on those shows and that film (i.e. confession on the stand leading directly to the judge ordering the witness's arrest) is based on procedural possibility or a screenwriter's fertile imagination.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,651 ✭✭✭GerardKeating

    In many/most TV crime shows, the trail and conviction can happend days/weeks after the crime. I remember one episode of CSI, when Gil Grission figured out (during the trail) that the accused arsonist was innocent, when he unwrapped the bangaged of the defendant, and looks at the burn/blister pattern on his hands... In Real life, the trial would be months/years down the road, and wounds well healed by then.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,232 ✭✭✭TooTired123

    I think the makers of fictional TV are to some extent relying on the hope/fact that a certain section of TV enthusiast has trouble distinguishing between fact and fiction.

    I know that soap actors are and always have been greeted out in public as if they were the characters they play on screen. It’s always astonished me.

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