What TV Shows Get Wrong About Criminal Charges

Police dramas are fun to watch, but they’re not the place to derive reliable legal information, especially if you’re a criminal defendant. Police procedurals gloss over details or reality for a more exciting storyline or plot. Here are a few essential things TV shows get wrong about criminal charges.

Miranda Warnings Scenes

Almost everyone knows the police are required to inform defendants of their rights by reciting the famous statement that starts with: “You have the right to remain silent….” But Hollywood ignores many truths about Miranda rights warnings that may surprise someone facing this situation.

First, the law only requires police to read Miranda Warning when two conditions are met: 1) the defendant is in police custody (they are not free to go), and 2) the police are interrogating them. An individual being interrogated by the police but isn’t being detained won’t have the warning read to them–and the police are entitled to use anything they said against them in a court of law, even if they are subsequently arrested.

In addition, in TV-land, after the police read the Miranda warning, a person may remain completely silent, and their rights will be protected. In reality, after your rights are read, you must tell the police that you’re invoking your right to remain silent and that you want a lawyer. Once you take this step, all interrogation must stop until your lawyer is present. If you start speaking of your own volition before your lawyer arrives, the police may use anything you say against you. But if you invoke your right to silence again after speaking, the police may not ask you further questions.

Finally, if the TV police forget to read a character their Miranda rights, the defendant’s whole case usually gets thrown out by a disgruntled judge. Unfortunately, it’s improbable that a court would dismiss your case if an officer forgot to read your rights. More likely, it would rule inadmissible any statements you made after you were detained and interrogated. But your case will likely proceed.

A Speedy Process

Police shows have to cram the entire criminal process, from arrest to trial, into 60 minutes or less, so you can be forgiven for thinking that criminal procedure moves fairly quickly. But the criminal process usually takes several months or much more to resolve. During these months, the lawyers are writing and filing motions, gathering evidence, interviewing and deposing witnesses, negotiating plea bargains, and prepping for trial. Court backlogs can cause further delays. What’s more, if your case is one of the few that makes it to trial, expect to add a few more weeks (not including a potential appeal) to your wait time for resolution. While case length varies depending on your circumstances, prepare for a potentially long haul.

Experienced Criminal Attorneys Serving Hampton, Bedford, Concord, Nashua, and More

If you are a criminal defendant in New Hampshire, you need a skilled lawyer to represent your interests as soon as possible. Call the experienced criminal attorneys of Tenn And Tenn, P.A. at 1-888-511-1010 today or reach out online for your free consultation. We are ready to fight for all of your rights.

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