Arrests on TV

See the source image

As you know, TV usually gets many things wrong about how cops work. In my Write Crime Right presentation, I discuss many of these, then talk about how cops really work. This class is suitable for writers in any genre. Contact me if you want me to present to your writer group.

One area I don’t cover in the presentation is the actual process of arrest. This is due simply because of lack of time. So, here are some aspects of arrest TV frequently gets wrong.

  • Handcuffed – Never handcuff the suspect with their arms in front. Always handcuff the suspect with their arms behind them. Always.
  • Reading Miranda rights – Sometimes you’ll see a detective tell a uniform to “read him his rights.” A good detective will always read rights to ensure it actually gets done and done correctly. There are three conditions that must exist for cops to read you your rights
    1. Police or someone known to you to be acting as an agent of the police must do it.
    2. Custody a reasonable person would not feel free to leave.
    3. Interrogation asking you incriminating questions which could be used against you.
  • Transported – Television will often show a suspect placed in the back of a squad car. A uniform gets behind the wheel and drives away. No and no. In the case of a serious crime, a detective will always ride along so that if the suspect says anything, a detective can take notes.

Hopefully this will help you improve the accuracy of your story.

Leave a Reply