Most people get their knowledge of the criminal justice system from television. They learn they have the right to remain silent and that they have a right to an attorney. However, people should never forget that television shows exist as entertainment, not to inform the public. So, when needed, the producers engage in dramatic license. Not everything seen on the screen happens that way in real life.
Here are the top three things that television crime shows get wrong:
1. Witnesses Narrate Their Stories on the Stand
This is the most egregious television error. In every courtroom scene, the witnesses recite the events that occurred. These emotional stories excite the passions of the jury and result in the seemingly correct verdict.
In real life, things are different. The rules of court procedure do not allow such free flowing testimony. Instead, the lawyers ask witnesses questions. In turn, the witness responds directly. Any extra commentary results in an objection by either prosecution or defense. The judge usually strikes this information from the record.
In addition, lawyers often ask leading questions that illicit "yes" or "no" responses. The goal is to prevent the sort of outburst of emotion that television relies upon for dramatic purposes.
2. Forensic Results Come Back in Minutes
Shows featuring scientific analysis of crime scenes are popular these days. Viewers enjoy the intelligent, intellectual aspect of police work. They feel they come away from the shows a bit smarter.
Television crime dramas are usually an hour in length. This limit requires three major commercial breaks before shows end. There is little time to wait for the forensic lab to test and retest the DNA evidence gathered at a crime scene. This differs from reality in which forensic lab results can take months.
3. Accused Testify Before Grand Juries
On crime shows that feature grand jury proceedings, the accused usually takes the stand to testify on their own behalf. The grand jury meets to decide whether to press official felony charges against an alleged criminal. Speaking to this jury is similar to discussing the case with the police, which attorneys usually dissuade clients from doing.
Any testimony given to the grand jury can limit a defendant's legal options in the future. The prosecutor now has sworn testimony given by the accused.
It is rare, if ever, that an actual criminal defense attorney will allow a client to speak to a grand jury. Doing so rarely works out well, unlike television, where they usually talk the grand jury out of an indictment.
Contacting a Real Attorney
Hollywood has introduced the rules of criminal procedure to public. Assuming that the things seen on television will play out in a real court of law can result in severe consequences. It is important that anyone facing actual charges, contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss the matter.
To ensure that justice prevails, accused persons should seek competent legal counsel as soon as possible. To learn more, contact a company like Balduf William Law Office with any questions you have.