A frameup is an American term referring to the act of framing someone, that is, providing false evidence or false testimony in order to falsely prove someone guilty of a crime. It is likely to derive from the English word frame meaning to cause someone innocent to appear guilty.
Sometimes the person who is framing someone else is the actual perpetrator of the crime. In some 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. The term comes from the criminal subculture, with an early version being the claim that "someone is trying to put me in the frame," as in a "picture frame", which was an early common slang term to refer prisons.
Frameups in labor disputes sometimes swing public opinion one way or the other. During a strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, 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.
Frameups are often used as a fictional device. An innocent party trying to prove that they have been framed for a crime is a popular theme in literature, film, and television. Perhaps the most famous example of such a storyline was the TV series, The Fugitive, later remade into a 1993 film starring Harrison Ford as the doctor trying to prove that it was not he who killed his wife, but rather a one-armed man who set him up.
Another TV show that commonly used the theme was The Dukes of Hazzard, in which the principal characters (Bo and Luke Duke) were constantly being set up by the crooked County Commissioner (Boss Hogg) and Sheriff (Rosco P. Coltrane). The "Duke boys" were always thwarting Boss and Rosco's schemes and Boss was always concocting methods of getting the Dukes out of his hair and into prison, only to have the Dukes win out in the end every time.
On the TV show 24, the protagonist of the show, Jack Bauer, is framed in Seasons 1 and 5. In Day 1, he was selected to be the scapegoat for David Palmer's attempted assassination which was orchestrated by Serbian businessmen with ties to European terrorists. In Day 5, he was framed again twice by a corrupt U.S. President for his friends' murders (David Palmer, and Michelle Dessler) in a massive government conspiracy to secure oil interests in Central Asia. Later in Season 6, Jack found out his father and his brother masterminded that conspiracy to frame him and secure American interests. In Day 6, he finds out his father's and brother's involvement after they arranged to eliminate him.
In the film Mission Impossible, Ethan Hunt, the hero, was framed by a mole in the CIA by killing Ethan's associates and leaving him alive in a mole hunt, thus confirming to the CIA he's the mole. Hunt is able to expose the conspiracy by smoking out the mole (who was his boss) and his supervisor, arms dealer Max, who tried to auction a CIA NOC (Non-Official Cover) list to terrorists.
On the TV show, Prison Break, a former criminal named Lincoln Burrows is framed for the murder of the Vice President's brother and thrown in prison; awaitng the death penalty. Burrows's brother, Michael Scofield, hatches an ingenious escape plan to break him out. It turns out a group of multinationals who are influencing the U.S. government, framed Burrows because his father was going to expose their illegal dealings. Several Secret Service agents, and the Vice President are involved in the conspiracy. Burrows and Scofield try to expose the conspiracy while on the run.
In the film, The Bourne Supremacy, Jason Bourne, a former CIA black ops assassin is forced out of hiding when unknown conspirators kill his wife and frame him for the murder of several CIA officers. A past mission haunts him as he finds who set him up. Eventually, he finds out his former boss (Alexander Conklin)'s supervisor, Ward Abott, assigned Bourne the haunting mission to kill a Russian diplomat named Vladimir Neski. Thus, Neski was killed because he was going to expose Abott as a mole in the CIA, stealing money and sharing it with Gretkov, a Russian oil businessman. Abott had Gretkov hire a Russian FSB agent named Kirill to kill the CIA officers who were unraveling the plot and framed Bourne for it. Bourne recorded a conversation between him and Abott when they confronted each other, implicating Abott in the conspiracy. Abott committed suicide as Bourne survived an attempt by Kirill, by killing him. In the end, Gretkov was arrested and Bourne apologized to Neksi's daughter for killing her parents.
In the video game, Driver: Parallel Lines, T.K. starts working for a New York gang in the 1970s. By the last 70s mission, T.K. is framed for the kidnapping and murder of Rafael Martinez.