We see it all of the time. Television and movies dramatize everything. From love, to family, to being in high school, television and movies make everything seem more intense and emotional. This rule applies to crime and the criminal system as well. You might be wondering if the criminal justice system is really replicated by Law and Order, Breaking Bad, and The Wire. Or, are these shows just fabrications? It’s safe to say that some elements of law are accurately portrayed by certain television shows. But other elements are fabricated and dramatized. In this article, I’ll explain the top three crime show myths here. Also, I’ll give you the true information that you need about law and crime.
Myth #1: Crime Scenes are Processed Quickly and Effectively
Crime shows generally only give a few minutes to the crime scene, in which you might see people expertly dusting for fingerprints, finding a hair sample, and continuing on their way. The truth of the matter is that processing a crime scene can take hours and even days of painstaking work. Evidence is rarely found and processed in a few minutes or even a few hours. Evidence is also much more difficult to find in real life than is portrayed on television. This is because DNA can deteriorate over time. Finding full fingerprint samples or hair samples that easily lead to a suspect will rarely happen.
In addition, lifting fingerprints from a crime scene doesn’t really mean that significant evidence has been collected. Fingerprints oftentimes lead to a dead end, even when lifted perfectly. And there is a lot of room for error when taking fingerprint samples from a scene. The evidence found at the scene of a crime that the police think you were involved in should be challenged by your criminal defense lawyer to make sure that mistakes were not made in collecting, storing, and interpreting this evidence.
Myth #2: The Police Must Obtain a Warrant to Search Your Car
Many people get confused because they know that the police can’t have search dogs search their home without a search warrant, so they think that this law also applies to car searches. However, this is not the case. The police only need probable cause in order to have dogs search your car or vehicle. This law applies to all regular searches. A warrant is only needed when searching a home because search warrant requirements include an automobile exception. This means that if you have weapons or drugs in plain sight, or if it is clear that you are partaking in illegal activity in your car, this will count as probable cause and the police can search your vehicle without a warrant.
Myth #3: Being a Cop is Exciting
I went to college with a friend who started out as a criminal justice major. He had the opportunity to talk with a Drug Enforcement Agent (DEA agent) about going into law enforcement. The advice that the DEA agent gave him? Switch your major to business or accounting to prepare for the amount of paperwork you’ll have to deal with when you join law enforcement. Turns out that the majority of law enforcement consists of sitting behind a desk and filling out paperwork, not exciting foot chases or interrogations. If you’re thinking of becoming a police officer, remember that cop shows are supposed to be exciting, which is why they put in so much action, but this isn’t exactly accurate.
It is important to remember that crime shows are intended for entertainment purposes, not education. If you want to learn more about the law, the criminal justice system, and what it’s like to be a lawyer or a police officer, you should talk to a lawyer or a police officer instead of watching NCIS. Sure, crime shows are fun to watch, but remember that they are only loosely based on facts.