Let's say hypothetically I'm a member of some gang and just killed a member of a rival gang. I've been accused of murder and taken to trail. My fellow gang members want to help me get off, but not so much that their willing to do anything that could lead to their going to jail instead.

It's possible for one of the gang members to claim to be the murderer to sow reasonable doubt in theory ( What prevents someone from claiming to be the murderer in order to get the real murderer off?) However, they would then be guilty of purjury and other crimes which my fellow gangbangers likely don't want to go to jail for.

However, instead of one person coming forward and explicitly saying they committed a crime what if multiple gang members all came forward and implied they committed the crime. For instance saying things like "I was planning to kill that man for being on our territory, but I won't say I did it" or "I 'took care of' some of the rival gang members that day" something along the line. Could a half dozen individuals come forward to intentionally sow confusion as to who the murderer was without risking purjury and thus help the actual murder get free?

If the inability to plead the fifth when giving testimony makes it too hard to imply guilt of yourself could they instead intentionally point the finger at other gang members (with those member's approval), thus allowing them to imply guilt of another without being put in a position where they had to explicitly say yes they did or didn't commit the murder if asked directly, since they can't definitively know what another person did.

Has any situation like this actually occurred in real criminal cases?

  • 2
    If it doesn't fit you must acquit!
    – Trish
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 0:32
  • 1
    Will post an answer when I have time but conspiracy laws may com into play here. Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 13:25
  • 2
    What do you mean by "point the finger at"? They can't just say "I think Joe did it" - that is not admissible testimony, and the prosecutor will object that this lacks foundation. They would be asked, on cross examination if not otherwise, to explain what they saw or heard that led them to believe that Joe did it. If they don't perjure themselves, then they won't have a convincing explanation. Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 2:51
  • If there is half a dozen related people pretending they might be guilty, then at least five of them are obviously just pretending, and I would think it’s most likely that they are all pretending, so this wouldn’t create reasonable doubt for me if I was in the jury.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 11:35
  • Sounds like a RICO case to me..
    – Questor
    Commented Mar 11 at 21:08

1 Answer 1


So, as you say, these witnesses who try to help their buddy out may be committing perjury. Also, D himself, by lining this up, is probably on the hook for conspiracy to commit perjury and being complicit in perjury.

Aside from that, I think your question is: would getting people to testify in a way that implies they did the crime lead to an acquittal for the murderer? The answer is: maybe.

The jury will either vote to acquit or to convict. If the jury votes to acquit, then it's over. Double jeopardy protects D from being tried for murder again. But, if the jury votes to convict, the fact that D had his friends testifying in the way you suggest isn't going to get the conviction overturned on appeal because "a reviewing court resolves neither credibility issues nor evidentiary conflicts." People v. Young, 34 Cal.4th 1149, 1181 (Cal. 2005).

I haven't done a trial yet, but it strikes me that that might not be the greatest trial strategy. I think generally defense lawyers would prefer to make their client look the furthest thing from gang affiliated as possible.

Don't lie to a court or ask anyone to lie to a court for you.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .