Television and feature films often portray criminal law in an unrealistic fashion. Fictional law proceedings are rarely accurate depictions. Below are some of the commonly repeated myths seen in the media about criminal law.

MYTH: My case will be dismissed if I wasn’t read my Miranda Rights.

TRUTH: Reading of Miranda rights is not necessary in order to make an arrest. Statements made prior to the reading of rights may be inadmissible in determining guilt at trial but charges cannot be dropped simply because rights were not read at the time or arrest. The only time being Mirandized is required is when an official interrogation or interagency questioning of the suspect is performed.

MYTH: My cooperation with police will result in my charges being dropped.

TRUTH: When police arrest a suspect who has been formally charged, law enforcement has no power whatsoever to dismiss any charges. They also do not have the ability to make any promises regarding the length or severity of sentencing. Very rarely, the police may make recommendations to the court on behalf of the accused but even that does not offer any guarantee for a lighter sentence.

MYTH: My conviction can be expunged.

TRUTH: Expungement of a conviction is not an easy process. This action is intended to wipe the criminal history slate of a person. Generally, a significant length of time must exist between commission of the crime and the expungement request in which no other illegal activity has occurred. The sentence must be finished, along with successful completion of parole requirements. However, some crimes are ineligible for consideration and cannot be expunged. These criminal acts include rape, child pornography charges, any felony involving a victim under the age of 18 and any other form of sexual battery.

MYTH: Police only want to help me.

TRUTH: Unfortunately, the police have no interest in being helpful to a suspect. Their job consists of collecting information and finding evidence of a crime. Quite possibly, this will include arresting you. Do not see the police as a helpful asset when you are involved in a crime in any capacity. Even if police present themselves as compassionate, it would be a big mistake to interpret that behavior in a way that could benefit you. Whether kind or aggressive, the police are taking in everything you say and they will use it to their advantage.

As difficult as it may seem, it is always important to keep a clear head when dealing with law enforcement, as well as a strong resolve to protect your rights, no matter the circumstances. Whatever your legal situation, do not attempt any risks without knowing your legal rights. 

Brett often writes about the realities of being a criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Brett Podolsky believes that everyone deserves a fair unbiased defense against criminal charges.