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Books, Crooks, and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Given that, Leslie Budewitz has done a great service to writers--and to crime fiction readers who would like to better understand these complex issues--with her new book, Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure. Budewitz, who is herself a published mystery writer as well as a practicing attorney, carefully walks the reader through the basics of the judicial system in the U.S. and then describes what occurs before a criminal trial. Using a variety of examples to demonstrate the points she makes, she discusses the rules of evidence, the role of witnesses, the required burden of proof and the appeals process.
She moves on to treat a number of legal issues that arise during the course of a criminal investigation, lays out the distinctions between various levels of crime and discusses the various punishments a court might mete out, including the death penalty. Budewitz then discusses the role of the civil courts and advises writers on the matters of thinking like a lawyer and like a judge. Given that the law and judicial procedures are constantly evolving, she closes with a very useful chapter on research and references.
Given the myriad of legal jurisdictions that exist in the United States, no one book could realistically treat every possible contingency that a writer might encounter in attempting to get his or her legal facts correct. But Budewitz provides an excellent introduction to the topic and then points the writer in the direction of the sources that he or she might use to discover the specific circumstances that would apply in the case of their own work. Anyone who writes crime fiction will find this book indispensible.
This is an excellent legal resource for writers. The chapters and sections are well thought out and the index makes it easy to go to the part you need. This is less a 'beginning to end read' (although you can do that if you want), but more of a 'I want to know this now'.
It's also a great general overview for any one interested in understanding the legal system and the law. Or for when one encounters legal references and procedures or other aspects of the legal system or the law in newspaper articles, radio or television news, shows or movies.
This is a book that is necessary for anyone who writes about the law, whether you are a journalist, non-fiction writer, or mystery novelist.
Whenever I start to read an article or a story where the writer doesn't know the difference between "bail" and "bond" or the significance of "innocent" as opposed to "not guilty," I stop reading.
I'll be the first to admit that the law is confusing and that different jurisdictions require different things. For example, can a will be notarized in the place where you're writing the story? Or does it need to be witnessed? Or both? You better find out before you publish your story.
This book goes a long way in answering your questions. And, if the question isn't answered, it gives you directions on where to find the answers.
w/a Dawn Atkins
THE NEW HOPE CAFE, Harlequin SuperRomance, 9/12
The Pink Tarantula
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