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3 Common Criminal Law Myths

In the area of criminal law, a number of common myths and misconceptions have become popular through the years. In some cases, these are based on information which used to be true but has since gone out of date. Otherwise, these myths may be the result of misinformation of misunderstanding. Regardless of the cause, though, these myths have the potential to be seriously damaging to a defendant’s case if he or she makes decisions based upon false information. Therefore, it is important that they be addressed and corrected.

  • Myth: They forgot to read me my rights, so I cannot be charged.
  • Fact: While media representations always show police officers reading a suspect their rights upon arrest, this is not necessarily always the case. It is only necessary that a criminal suspect be informed of their rights if the law enforcement officials intend to interrogate them. If no interrogation is conducted, then criminal prosecution can proceed even if a suspect has not been read their rights.
  • Myth: A police officer has to tell me the truth if I ask if they are a cop.
  • Fact: Supreme Court decisions have firmly established the right of law enforcement officials to lie to suspects, even about whether or not they are police officers. Entrapment is against the law, but lying about being a police officer does not constitute entrapment.
  • Myth: There is no DNA or fingerprint evidence, so I cannot be convicted.
  • Fact: While DNA or fingerprint evidence can significantly strengthen a criminal case, it is by no means necessary for conviction. In fact, the majority of criminal convictions are typically based on circumstantial evidence and witness testimony.

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