TV crime dramas have injected quite a bit of confusion about how the law works. These range from what makes an arrest, to police being exempt from the law. Let’s take a look at some of these topics, and learn how police work in the real world.
No Rights, No Arrest?
The Miranda rights are a recitation of a list of constitutional and legal rights a suspect has. Contrary to what crime dramas say, these rights need only be read when the individual is going to be questioned by police or a prosecutor. They do not need to be read to make an arrest legal. It is not uncommon for a subject to be arrested, tried, and convicted without ever having their rights read to them.
It’s a Trap!
Entrapment is a fairly common buzz word that people accused love to use. However, often it’s used incorrectly. While there is entrapment that happens from time to time, by and large entrapment isn’t a usable defense.
Entrapment is when an officer puts you in a situation where you break the law, when you wouldn’t do so in ordinary circumstances. For an example, let’s take the commonly accused ‘speed trap’. In most cases, speed traps are simply used to catch you speeding; something you’d probably be doing anyway. Therefore, they are not forcing you to do something you wouldn’t normally do.
I’m (Temporarily) Insane!
Temporary insanity is a plea that can be used, but it is difficult to prove. In order to have it proved, often a defense team will have to show that the stability of the individual during the act of the crime was significantly different from the stability they showed before and after the act. Further, a psychoanalyst is usually required to examine how the person was acting during the act to determine if it was indeed insanity, rather than things like the ‘heat of the moment’ or a jilted lover.
That Cop Broke the Law!
It’s important to note that police are not ‘exempt’ from the law as a whole. They still must follow a vast majority of the laws when not exercising their duty. The time this change is in regards to certain traffic laws, when doing so is required to do their job. For example, running red lights is legal for an officer in most places if they are heading to an emergency and have emergency lights and sirens activated.
While crime dramas are entertaining, it’s important to note that they are, indeed, entertainment. What you see isn’t always the way it works in the real world. When it comes right down to it, the best person to help you if you’re in a situation with the police is a lawyer.