In the United States criminal law, a frame-up (frameup) or setup is the act of framing someone, that is, providing false evidence or false testimony in order to falsely prove someone guilty of a crime. While incriminating those who are innocent might be done out of sheer malice, framing is primarily used as a distraction.
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Generally, the person who is framing someone else is the actual perpetrator of the crime. In other cases it is an attempt by law enforcement to get around due process. Motives include getting rid of political dissidents or "correcting" what they see as the court's mistake. Some lawbreakers will try to claim they were framed as a defense strategy.
Frameups in labor disputes sometimes swing public opinion one way or the other. In Massachusetts, during the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike, police acting on a tip discovered dynamite and blamed it on the union. National media echoed an anti-union message. Later, the police revealed that the dynamite had been wrapped in a magazine addressed to the son of the former mayor. The man had received an unexplained payment from the largest of the employers. Exposed, the plot swung public sympathy to the union.
A frameup where a police officer shoots an unarmed suspect and then places a weapon near the body is a form of police misconduct known as a "throw down". This is used to justify the shooting by making it appear that the officer fired in self-defence or to defend other bystanders.
In British usage, to frame, or stitch up, is to maliciously or dishonestly incriminate someone or set them up, in the sense trap or ensnare.
Some notable frame-ups
- Dreyfus affair, in which a French Jewish soldier who was framed for treason eventually won exoneration.
- Carl Ingold Jacobson, Los Angeles, California, City Council member, framed on a morals charge.
- Arthur Allan Thomas, New Zealand farmer convicted of the Crewe murders and later acquitted after it was found police had planted evidence at the crime scene.
- László Rajk, accused of being a "Titoist Spy". The injustice of this trial helped to trigger the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 against the communist government of Hungary.
- "A Revenge Plot So Intricate, the Prosecutors Were Pawns" A New York Times article detailing a real-life frame-up.
- "frame-up - Definitions from Dictionary.com". dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
- Peter Carlson (1983). Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood. p. 163.
- "The 9/11 Anthrax frame-up". whatreallyhappened.com. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
- "689 F. 2d 1220 - Webster v. City of Houston". openjurist.org. 28 October 1982. paragraph 29. Retrieved 17 April 2015.