Pop culture and media as a whole affects how we see the world more than you may think. I don’t just mean subjecting every citizen to as much information on celebrities’ personal lives as possible, either. Fiction — in all forms — is a great genre for myriad of reasons, but especially for its ability to make uncomfortable subjects seem not only more palatable, but even desirable. Because there are only so many experiences a single human can have, fiction is often how many people learn about things for the first time. Even though it’s fiction, they have no reason to think it’s NOT true (whatever it is), so unless it’s dragons, why not trust it?
Though, admittedly, dragons would be cool too.
So, here’s where this becomes a problem. Shows and movies LOVE portraying the legal system and all its many quirks because it’s a hotbed for drama and conflict, but people tend not to know just how much creative liberty writers use for those stories. They binge some staged comedy about mouthing off to cops or causing legal shenanigans and the shows have just enough legal lingo to sound trustworthy, and then before you know it, some poor sap is trying to tell a judge he’s not a murderer because he’s “just like Dexter.”
(Hint: this does not work.)
How the media at large tends to show criminal proceedings
Think of your favorite protagonist from your favorite show.
Now, think of all the illegal stuff they’ve done. Maybe they’ve even been arrested a few times. Sure, depending on the show, it’s probably either mild infractions or morally gray (or even completely moral) crimes called for by whatever drama the character went through, but — fictional characters, you’ll notice, break the law a LOT. What they don’t do often, though, is actually get convicted or face any real consequences by way of the legal system. This is so well-known there’s a whole article about it, and it really shines a light on just how, well, flimsy court is made to seem in media.
The article is more of a listicle, but it details famous beloved characters, from actual criminal personalities to the harmless accidental sort, and how every single one of them got away with their crimes no matter how close to conviction they seemed to get. Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter actually DOES get convicted and imprisoned as we all know, but let’s all remember how his final movie ends (hint: breaking free from prison and eating a bunch of people). He gets his own, twisted “happily ever after” because the fictional cops and the fictional courts all kinda shrug when he escapes (or are killed and eaten). On the other end of the crime spectrum, Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street spends the whole movie breaking the law, and his “consequences” just end up making him richer.
Here’s why this can be a problem. While, hopefully, people don’t think they can (or should try to!) get away with killing and eating people and ultimately escaping prison, they do tend to think the court system isn’t that big of a deal to face off with. Especially with those who are certain they didn’t break the law, there is a dangerous sort of arrogance that binging enough Law & Order makes one an attorney capable of successfully representing oneself in court. They mouth off to cops and brush off legal counsel, and maybe they even blow off court dates.
Do you need a hint to get that this ends badly in real life? Because you shouldn’t. Because it does.
Getting arrested “IRL” is no joke in Annapolis
In reality, getting charged with any sort of crime is a big deal. Even if you are innocent, and EVEN if you have an attorney, there is never, ever a guarantee you won’t be convicted. Hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney does give you a much higher chance of avoiding conviction, but you can only hurt yourself by bringing any sort of arrogance to the courtroom. You are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty — but the jury rarely actually thinks that way (especially if you’re charged with a violent or “immoral” crime). Smirk on the stand and that’s an admission to at least half of them. Try to be snarky and smart, and the other half just got convinced.
When you’re arrested, you have the right to stay quiet and the right to an attorney. These are the rights you take advantage of no matter what they say, how unfair it is, or how innocent you are. Your arresting officer can and will testify against you in court, and if they can go up and say how smug and nasty and volatile you seemed, your attorney’s kicking foot will tingle so hard they will have to sit on it. It’s not because we’re judging you, it’s because our job is to make sure you’re seen as fairly as possible, with as little bias as possible, and you’re making that job HARDER, which only hurts you in the end. You want us there because when we are able to do our jobs, we do have specific skills and education to use specifically to help you avoid conviction, and they do work.
Depending on the crime you’ve been accused of, whether it’s a state or a federal offense, you could face decades behind bars and thousands in fines, legal fees, and collateral damage — not to mention a permanent and visible stain on your name. Future employers and loaners won’t care about your side of the story, and they’ll feel very fair about that decision. This is something that can easily uproot and alter the entire course of your life, even for non-violent crimes like theft or embezzlement.
So, best to avoid it altogether, right? You can’t guarantee it, but to give yourself the best chances of having at least the more major penalties dropped, exercise your right to beautiful, innocent silence and a skilled criminal defense attorney who went to school just to get you home. If you’re in Ellicott City or Annapolis, myself and my team at Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law are just the criminal defense attorneys to show you how it’s done. I give my all to my clients and take their rights and freedom as seriously as my own, and I promise not to kick you. Reach me at 410-271-1892 or via my contact form so we can get started on your future as quickly as possible.
Just Remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew!