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Addressing the misunderstood and misrepresented aspects of the law in today’s writing, this reliable guidebook demonstrates how to use legal concepts, terminology, and procedure to create fiction that is true to life and crackling with real-world tension. Examples from actual cases are provided along with excerpts of authentic courtroom dialogue. Topics covered include criminal and civil law; differences between federal, state, and Native American jurisdiction; police and private investigation; wills and inheritances; and the written and unwritten codes that govern the public and private conduct of lawyers and judges. Providing a quick and simple legal reference, this handbook is the key to creating innovative plots, strong conflicts, authentic characters, and gritty realism.