Three Criminal Justice Myths We See on TV Shows

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2018 | Criminal Defense

Do you watch crime shows on television? If so, you’re not alone.
Crime shows of all types are some of the most popular and beloved series
on the silver screen, with some of the biggest names running for years.
While some of these shows go through rigorous efforts to make the stories
as realistic and believable as possible, the truth of the matter is that
criminal justice in its purest form just isn’t entertaining. Thus,
producers, directors, and writers all need to take some creative liberties
and stretch the truth to create a product that’s exciting to watch.

What that means is that we often see a number of myths or fabrications
which don’t actually exist in real life. While they make the story
more interesting, they detract from the realistic nature of the show in
order to create the ideal end product: entertainment. Unfortunately this
often leads to confusion for those who are facing criminal charges in
their real lives, and possibly some case-jeopardizing mistakes. On this
blog, we’ll take a look at three of the most popular TV crime show
myths and explain how things actually work here in the real world.

“I Want My One Phone Call”

We hear it all the time: officers telling those they’ve arrested
that they get one phone call to reach out for help before they’re
cut off and locked up. Do you call a lawyer? Your family to let them know
what happened? Your best friend to come bail you out? Your neighbor to
feed your dog? The decision seems like it’s unbelievably difficult, right?

Well if you don’t think you could make it, then consider yourself
fortunate you don’t have to. The truth of the matter is you’re
not limited to just one phone call. In fact, you can make as many as you’d
like. However, phone calls are not a right; they’re a privilege
and one that’s not to be abused. If officers find that you’re
making too many calls or using them frivolously, they’ll take the
privilege away just like that. If you’re on your best behavior and
you make it clear who you would like to call beforehand and why, officers
will usually let you have those calls.

DNA Evidence Solves Everything

We’ve all seen shows where detectives investigating the scene find
a strand of suspicious hair, which they bring to a lab for DNA testing
that breaks open a massive lead which eventually solves the case. In fact,
one might even argue it’s becoming an overplayed plot device in
crime dramas. However, in the real world it’s an extremely powerful
tool and has led to both convictions an exonerations.

But that being said it’s not a quick process. Hollywood doesn’t
have weeks or even months to wait for the results of a test like the real
world requires—they have an hour. So the timeline gets compressed
a bit and you get the supercomputer which turns out a perfect match after
just a few minutes. In reality, finding a
clean DNA sample that can be used for testing is extraordinarily rare and finding
a match on it is even more difficult. The same can be said for fingerprints:
finding a clean sample that can be used for comparison is nearly impossible
and finding a match can take months, if one even exists.

“I Know My Rights”

The climax of the show involves the detectives finally catching up with
the perpetrator and making the arrest, sometimes involving a snappy one-liner.
The crook then says something and the officer tells them they’re
under arrest and immediately starts into their Miranda rights. You know,
the whole “You have the right to remain silent” speech.

These rights are important, and the fabrication here isn’t that officers
read the arrested individual their rights, but rather that this is done
as soon as someone is arrested. In reality, rights are not usually read
until someone who has been arrested is going to be subjected to questioning.
That way law enforcement can figure out if the person being questioned
is going to request having an attorney present, which then takes more
time. If you are going to be subjected to questioning, it’s strongly
advised you take advantage of this right and contact an attorney to ensure
you receive proper guidance throughout the process.

Have you been arrested?
Contact the Law Offices of William D. Thompson today at 570-846-2819 to request a case evaluation and start standing
up for your freedom.