There are countless movies and TV shows out there that depict crime, whether fiction or nonfiction. And these depictions seem to mostly rely on certain common myths about crime and being arrested that are unfortunately not based in reality. Below are six common myths that Hollywood would have you believe about crime.
If you plead insanity, you can get away with anything.
This is one of the most outlandish myths out there. Criminals want to use the insanity defense in order to get away with murder. But in reality, the insanity defense is rarely the best option. In fact, it is only applied in less than 1% of cases. Not only is it rarely applied, it doesn’t mean that a criminal gets to walk away from the crime. If you are successful in using this defense, you will be sent to a mental hospital where they can keep you until “deemed fit to return to society” which could be longer than the jail sentence would have been.
You must stay on the phone for at least a minute for the police to be able to trace the call.
No, the police don’t need you to stay on the line for a full minute while their tech wizards work furiously in the background to try to trace the location the phone call is coming from. In fact, first responders now have systems like E911, which is short for Enhanced 911. E911 automatically provides dispatchers with an address as soon as the call is received.
When you’re arrested or detained, you’re allowed one and only one phone call.
That’s right, you don’t automatically get to use the phone. Phone use is a privilege, not a right. However, you do have a right to an attorney. And if there’s something you need, such as medication, and you aren’t allowed to use the phone to contact someone to bring it to you, your attorney would be the person to speak to about that.
If you don’t answer every question from the police, it’s obstruction of justice.
Shows like Law & Order really made this one popular. The police go to visit the criminal’s family members to get information, but the family doesn’t want to talk. The cops then tell them that they can be arrested for obstruction of justice if they don’t cooperate. But the 5th Amendment says you have a right to not incriminate yourself. And since at that moment you don’t know if you’re potentially a suspect, you have the right not to answer their questions.
If the police don’t read you your rights, you will be released on a technicality.
You see it all the time in movies and tv shows. While the arresting officer is slapping the cuffs on the bad guy’s wrists, he says the line “you have the right to remain silent…” But the Miranda Warning is only for people who are ALREADY in police custody and are about to be interrogated.
If you ask someone if they’re a cop, they must answer truthfully, even when they’re undercover.
This one should be pretty obvious, or else why would cops go undercover at all? No, they don’t have to out themselves and put their lives on the line or put the investigation at risk.