History Main / ConvictionByContradiction

24th Feb '17 6:30:25 AM tromag
Is there an issue? Send a Message


* Played with in ''Film/AFewGoodMen'' – a murder victim in Guantanamo Bay's military base in Cuba had supposedly received long-awaited transfer orders for a flight early the next morning, but had not packed by the time of his murder later that night nor called any friends or family back home to make preparations. When this is mentioned during a witness examination with the man issuing the transfer, intended to trick the witness into self-incrimination, the witness counters that he couldn't possibly explain the dead man's motives, not being the man in question. However, the contradiction is enough to irritate the witness and put him on the defensive—[[XanatosGambit just]] [[ZigzaggingTrope as planned.]]

to:

* Played with in ''Film/AFewGoodMen'' – a murder victim in Guantanamo Bay's military base in Cuba had supposedly received long-awaited transfer orders for a flight early the next morning, but had not packed by the time of his murder later that night nor called any friends or family back home to make preparations. When his commander is asked about this is mentioned during a witness examination with the man issuing the transfer, intended to trick the witness into self-incrimination, the witness counters at trial, he quickly points out that there could be any number of explanations for those facts (maybe he couldn't possibly liked to pack in the morning), and he can't be expected to explain the dead man's motives, not being the man in question.them. However, the contradiction is enough to irritate the witness and put him on the defensive—[[XanatosGambit just]] [[ZigzaggingTrope as planned.]]
9th Feb '17 12:29:15 PM Gosicrystal
Is there an issue? Send a Message


* Averted in the ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series. The core mechanic of the game is to find and expose contradictions in witness testimony by presenting evidence. However, at no point is ''anyone'' ever proved guilty by a single contradiction alone. Instead, the objective is to expose a contradiction, which will then be covered up by a new, weaker story ("No! Wait! I was mistaken! It happened this way!") which can also be contradicted, [[PullTheThread and so on and so forth until the actual perpetrator's guilt is confirmed]]. The end result is that Phoenix and Apollo always need to present a pretty extensive case and put forth quite a bit of evidence before the court even considers believing them.
** This is straight said to be an impossible act in the fourth game, when Apollo is accusing someone of being the real killer. Even though he's presented a pretty convincing case with quite a bit of evidence to back it up, and pointed out a load of contradictions in the witness's testimony, he's still unable to get them for the murder, due to not having any evidence that actually links them directly to the crime. Apollo does eventually get him by [[spoiler:forcing a confession out of them.]]
** Phoenix is also a defense attorney and his client is always the one on trial, so pointing out the contradictions is actually perfectly valid when the point is to create doubt in the testimony of those accusing your client. Also, it's suggested that the real perpetrators have to undergo another trial at a later date, so even when Phoenix exposes evidence against them they aren't necessarily convicted immediately. However, this isn't to state that the games don't use spurious evidence to advance the cases sometimes, nor that contradictions in testimony aren't sometimes given more weight as points of suspicion than they probably should be.


Added DiffLines:

* Averted in the ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series. The core mechanic of the game is to find and expose contradictions in witness testimony by presenting evidence. However, at no point is ''anyone'' ever proved guilty by a single contradiction alone. Instead, the objective is to expose a contradiction, which will then be covered up by a new, weaker story ("No! Wait! I was mistaken! It happened this way!") which can also be contradicted, [[PullTheThread and so on and so forth until the actual perpetrator's guilt is confirmed]]. The end result is that [[VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney Phoenix]], [[VisualNovel/ApolloJusticeAceAttorney Apollo]] and [[VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyDualDestinies Athena]] always need to present a pretty extensive case and put forth quite a bit of evidence before the court even considers believing them. And even then, sometimes evidence will not be enough to convict a culprit, which sometimes requires getting a confession out of them (e.g. in Apollo's game, third case). Also, it's suggested that the real perpetrators have to undergo another trial at a later date, so even when Phoenix exposes evidence against them they aren't necessarily convicted immediately. Other times, though, pointing out the contradictions is actually perfectly valid when the point is to create doubt in the testimony of those accusing your client.
3rd Feb '17 1:04:17 PM marcoasalazarm
Is there an issue? Send a Message

Added DiffLines:

** Parodied in a random Duff poster that appears on an episode where Homer and Barney visited the local plant, which (having been done during TheColdWar) had someone ''accused of being a Communist spy and arrested'' simply because he didn't liked Duff.
22nd Jan '17 10:12:18 AM Psyclone
Is there an issue? Send a Message


* A very tall suspect claims he didn't use a car that had been involved with a crime, but the car seat was pushed back far enough that a normal-sized person couldn't have used it but the suspect could have. Because no other tall people exist that could have used the car. And no shorter person could have used the car and then adjusted the seat to throw off the police.
10th Jan '17 5:04:29 AM GliderPro
Is there an issue? Send a Message

Added DiffLines:

* A very tall suspect claims he didn't use a car that had been involved with a crime, but the car seat was pushed back far enough that a normal-sized person couldn't have used it but the suspect could have. Because no other tall people exist that could have used the car. And no shorter person could have used the car and then adjusted the seat to throw off the police.
11th Dec '16 2:13:20 AM Xtifr
Is there an issue? Send a Message


* One short story in the anthology ''Creator/AlfredHitchcock's Sinister Spies'' is called "[=QL696.C9=]", by Anthony Boucher. It's about a librarian who was killed, leaving a the titular mysterious sequence of letters and numbers nearby. At the end of the story, the detective gathers the suspects in the, um, library in the traditional fashion,[[spoiler: declares that the code was probably a library subject reference number, and starts to look it up.]] He's interrupted by the need to keep the murderer (a spy), from killing herself with the pistol she hid in her blouse. Turns out he knew it was her as soon as he figured out what the code was for, as the killer had the only name that was a noun, and the whole library scene was just to flush her out. FridgeBrilliance kicks in when you realize that the detective needed something from the suspect to avert this trope, since there's all sorts of perfectly good reasons a librarian would have to write down a Library of Congress reference code [[spoiler:for swifts]]. Ironically, the anthology in question comes up when you search the [=LoC=] for the code.

to:

* One short story in the anthology ''Creator/AlfredHitchcock's Sinister Spies'' is called "[=QL696.C9=]", by Anthony Boucher.Creator/AnthonyBoucher. It's about a librarian who was killed, leaving a the titular mysterious sequence of letters and numbers nearby. At the end of the story, the detective gathers the suspects in the, um, library in the traditional fashion,[[spoiler: declares that the code was probably a library subject reference number, and starts to look it up.]] He's interrupted by the need to keep the murderer (a spy), from killing herself with the pistol she hid in her blouse. Turns out he knew it was her as soon as he figured out what the code was for, as the killer had the only name that was a noun, and the whole library scene was just to flush her out. FridgeBrilliance kicks in when you realize that the detective needed something from the suspect to avert this trope, since there's all sorts of perfectly good reasons a librarian would have to write down a Library of Congress reference code [[spoiler:for swifts]]. Ironically, the anthology in question comes up when you search the [=LoC=] for the code.
5th Dec '16 3:44:54 AM AG1995
Is there an issue? Send a Message

Added DiffLines:

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/SuperDanganRonpa2'': The first solid clue that leads to the third culprit's identity is the fact that [[NeverSuicide their victim's cause of death was not by hanging, but rather by strangulation]]. [[spoiler:After all, how could Mikan, the Ultimate Nurse, have missed that when her autopsies had been so accurate before, unless ''she'' was the one trying to hide it.]]
[[/folder]]
10th Nov '16 7:27:37 AM Aquillion
Is there an issue? Send a Message


More realistic examples focus on the investigative side, where the contradiction satisfies the significantly lower standard of proof required to ''arrest'' someone and investigate them further, rather than the much higher standard to ''convict'' them, or on non-legal contexts where the solution is just about swaying people's opinions rather than meeting any rigorous standard of proof. Some stories {{handwave}} this issue by having the contradiction leads to further investigation and the discovery of more concrete evidence.

In stories involving teenage perpetrators, the crimes are often rather minor and the solution has them immediately confess as a result of being "trapped by his/her lie." It's more {{egregious}} when it's shown to work against adult suspects who are assumed to know their rights and to remain silent or ask for a lawyer when the police suspect them of a crime. But then again, OnlyBadGuysCallTheirLawyers.

to:

More realistic examples focus on the investigative side, where the contradiction satisfies the significantly lower standard of proof required to ''arrest'' someone and investigate them further, rather than the much higher standard to ''convict'' them, or on non-legal contexts where the solution is just about swaying people's opinions rather than meeting any rigorous standard of proof. Some stories {{handwave}} this issue by having the contradiction leads to further investigation and the discovery of more concrete evidence.

evidence. In stories involving teenage perpetrators, the crimes are often rather minor and the solution has them immediately confess as a result of being "trapped by his/her lie." It's more {{egregious}} when it's shown to work the contradiction is pointed out; this is somewhat less plausible against adult suspects who are assumed to suspects, but even in RealLife, plenty of people don't know their rights and to remain silent or ask for a lawyer make mistakes when the police suspect them of a crime. But then again, OnlyBadGuysCallTheirLawyers.
pressed.
10th Nov '16 7:23:31 AM Aquillion
Is there an issue? Send a Message


More realistic examples focus on the investigative side, where the contradiction satisfies the significantly lower standard of proof required to ''arrest'' someone and investigate them further, rather than the much higher standard to ''convict'' them. Some stories {{handwave}} this issue by having the contradiction leads to further investigation and the discovery of more concrete evidence.

to:

More realistic examples focus on the investigative side, where the contradiction satisfies the significantly lower standard of proof required to ''arrest'' someone and investigate them further, rather than the much higher standard to ''convict'' them.them, or on non-legal contexts where the solution is just about swaying people's opinions rather than meeting any rigorous standard of proof. Some stories {{handwave}} this issue by having the contradiction leads to further investigation and the discovery of more concrete evidence.
10th Nov '16 7:21:23 AM Aquillion
Is there an issue? Send a Message


The level to which this trope is {{justified|Trope}} depends on what the contradiction is being used to prove. A novel explanation for a baffling set of circumstances can give the police a new avenue for their investigation. Inconsistencies in a person's story may not be enough to prove they committed a crime but it can prove they lied to the police and that would be enough to pursue warrants or get them on a charge such as [[EmptyCopThreat obstruction of justice]] that could lead to other more tangible forms of evidence. However, in countries where the accused is innocent until proven guilty, a "logical flaw" in the perp's alibi will make for a strong circumstantial case at best, and falls far short of meeting the standard of proof of "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt".

Let's take an example. Joe is murdered at 8 pm on Saturday. One of his associates, Bob, when asked by the police, lied and said he was at home with his wife. Does this mean he's guilty? No, not necessarily. Maybe he was with his girlfriend and doesn't want his wife to find out, or he was five miles away robbing a liquor store, or [[BreadEggsBreadedEggs maybe he robbed the liquor store then went to see his girlfriend]].

For this reason, most examples realistically focus on the investigative side, where the contradiction satisfies the significantly lower standard of proof required to ''arrest'' someone, without dwelling on the FridgeHorror of whether the merits of the case meet the "Prima facie" burden required to ''convict'' them. However, some stories allow the {{handwave}} that the contradiction inevitably leads to the discovery of ''real'' evidence, or else unnerves the villain into VillainDecay and MotiveRant. As such, {{Justifying Edit}}s are not necessary, and points that have these still fit if the actual "conviction" is simply tacked on to the end of the story.

On the other hand, a logical inconsistency in the testimony of a key witness for the prosecution can blow a hole in the case. If the witness claims to have seen something they could not possibly have seen, or could not possibly have seen the ''way'' they claim to have seen it, it puts the testimony in doubt. Which creates exactly the kind of "reasonable doubt" that allows the accused to walk. In short, casting doubt on the prosecution's case doesn't require proving someone else did it or that you're innocent; only that the case against you is questionable enough to think you might not have done it.

In most stories involving teenage perpetrators, the crimes are rather minor and the solution has them immediately confess as a result of being "trapped by his/her lie." It's more {{egregious}} when it's shown to work against adult suspects who are assumed to know their rights and to remain silent or ask for a lawyer when the police suspect them of a crime. But then again, OnlyBadGuysCallTheirLawyers.

to:

The level to which this trope is {{justified|Trope}} depends on what the contradiction is being used to prove. A novel explanation for a baffling set of circumstances can give the police a new avenue for their investigation. Inconsistencies in a person's story may not be enough to prove they committed a crime but it can prove they lied to the police and that would be enough to pursue warrants or get them on a charge such as [[EmptyCopThreat obstruction of justice]] that could lead to other more tangible forms of evidence. However, in countries where the accused is innocent until proven guilty, a "logical flaw" in the perp's alibi will make for a strong circumstantial case at best, and falls far short of meeting the standard of proof of "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt".

Let's take an example. Joe is murdered at 8 pm on Saturday. One of his associates, Bob, when asked by the police, lied and said he was at home with his wife. Does this mean he's guilty? No, not necessarily. Maybe he was with his girlfriend and doesn't want his wife to find out, or he was five miles away robbing a liquor store, or [[BreadEggsBreadedEggs maybe he robbed the liquor store then went to see his girlfriend]].

For this reason, most
More realistic examples realistically focus on the investigative side, where the contradiction satisfies the significantly lower standard of proof required to ''arrest'' someone, without dwelling on someone and investigate them further, rather than the FridgeHorror of whether the merits of the case meet the "Prima facie" burden required much higher standard to ''convict'' them. However, some them. Some stories allow the {{handwave}} that this issue by having the contradiction inevitably leads to further investigation and the discovery of ''real'' evidence, or else unnerves the villain into VillainDecay and MotiveRant. As such, {{Justifying Edit}}s are not necessary, and points that have these still fit if the actual "conviction" is simply tacked on to the end of the story.

On the other hand, a logical inconsistency in the testimony of a key witness for the prosecution can blow a hole in the case. If the witness claims to have seen something they could not possibly have seen, or could not possibly have seen the ''way'' they claim to have seen it, it puts the testimony in doubt. Which creates exactly the kind of "reasonable doubt" that allows the accused to walk.
more concrete evidence.

In short, casting doubt on the prosecution's case doesn't require proving someone else did it or that you're innocent; only that the case against you is questionable enough to think you might not have done it.

In most
stories involving teenage perpetrators, the crimes are often rather minor and the solution has them immediately confess as a result of being "trapped by his/her lie." It's more {{egregious}} when it's shown to work against adult suspects who are assumed to know their rights and to remain silent or ask for a lawyer when the police suspect them of a crime. But then again, OnlyBadGuysCallTheirLawyers. \n

Note that in modern legal systems, it is far more realistic to have this trope derail a ''prosecution'', both because the defense only needs to introduce the possibility of reasonable doubt (which a contradiction in a witness statement often accomplishes), and because the prosecution has the burden of having to prove their case. A contradiction in the defense's alibi doesn't necessarily prove them guilty if the prosecution otherwise failed to make its case; but for the prosecution, even an entirely innocent mistake in a key witness statement can call the credibility of the entire statement into question and cause the case to collapse.
This list shows the last 10 events of 513. Show all.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Main.ConvictionByContradiction