Watch a legal drama on television or the movies and chances high you will see scenes that make you want to be like those powerful attorneys and law authorities, saving lives with powerful speeches and their scheming personalities. While the dynamics of cinema work primarily under the guise of fiction and suspension of reality, there are big errors in their portrayal of law. Sadly, these inaccuracies are accepted by many as reality, leading many to commit to this judgement.
It’s true that nobody watches TV shows on medicine for accuracy in surgery or crime dramas for faithfulness in law procedures, but the consistent mistakes in these episodes and scenes can make a generation deluded and misinformed.
Fans of law related films and narratives would probably have watched dozens of scenes where a police authority arrests a person and reads the Miranda rights. Criminal attorneys like William Bly say that this is false, and that there are certain instances when an officer won’t automatically read the rights during an arrest without going against their role and the Fifth Amendment.
Reading the Miranda rights is mandatory only once the suspect, alleged or otherwise, is in police custody. The police, however, can ask questions and expect answers to basic identifying information questions, such as name, address, and other simple questions without reading the Miranda warnings. If you voluntarily come in for questioning, you’ll be read the Miranda warning before being questioned.
Many TV scenes miss the simplest of legal rights. Breathalyzers, for example, are portrayed as a mandatory test, but a more reliable source of information says otherwise, that individuals do in fact have the right to refuse. Refusing a pre-arrest breathalyzer will not result to suspension of a license, but refusal post-arrest will.
Refusing a search and answering incriminating questions are also your legal rights, and is not an automatic admission of guilt or a reason for detainment. It is also best to keep in mind that a police request is not an order unless clarified. Remember to be polite during any encounter with law authorities and to report any violation of your legal rights to a trusted defendant.
It is definitely interesting and exciting to watch crime and legal dramas, but television consumers are to be more wary of processing the information their favorites are disseminating. TV is mostly fiction and intentionally exaggerated. It’s your call to determine which to take and which to dismiss.