What happens when two people share one body?
Conjoined twins, while being a rare medical phenomenon, are a huge point of fascination for the general public. Perhaps because our Western culture is so focused on fierce individualism (or perhaps because people like to create an “other” where there isn’t one) the idea of two individuals sharing a body confounds the rest of us to the point where we can’t help but spew question after question about what life must be like for them.
Some of the fascination is fair if not only because the independent individual is so highly valued in the US, especially in the courtroom. While questions about their personal lives seem invasive, mulling over the way that the law does (or should) treat these highly rare cases is an exercise in the minutia of the legal system as well as moral responsibility to honor all types of people—not to mention a much-needed examination of the way our legal system works as a whole.
This particular point has gripped the users over at AskReddit. There have been dozens of threads where people ask about the logistics of a criminally inclined twin attached to an innocent bystander. And, in fairness… It does get tricky.
So, let’s see what Reddit thinks would happen if conjoined twins got tied up in violent crimes…
What would happen? An amazingly long and involved court process that involves the expert opinions of dozens of legal scholars on both sides, and regardless of outcome from any one judge, appeals until it lands in the Supreme Court, where it will once again be an amazingly long and involved court process, until the Supreme Court establishes their precedent. (Faranya)
At this point it’s probably very unlikely the two could be separated and both survive so I see 3 options.
Innocent: because they are two people in one body (from the waist down) and one is innocent, the n the innocence would carry over to the guilty one. Because in US we are “innocent until proven guilty” innocence seems to outweigh guilt. He may be somehow bound (not allowed to control his hand or something because an ankle monitor would hinder his sister’s every day life) or put on some kind of probation.
Guilty A: Bartholomew is undoubtably guilty and the court cannot overlook that. He will be taken to jail (along with his sister) but his sentence will be very short so as to lessen the effect on his sister’s quality of life.
With some ethical concerns
Guilty B: If Bartholomew is sentenced to death just as any “single” person would be, his sister must make the decision to have him amputated and therefore killed. A lot of the time with conjoined twins, they stay together because it would be impossible for both to survive the surgery. If Betsy could survive and she chooses to go along with it (she must agree because it also affects her body) then Bartholomew would be sentenced to death, removed from the body, and justice has been carried out.
Guilty B is probably the most correct according to the law but not very ethical…