Top 5 Police Myths Debunked

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Police myths are fun stories to tell with friends or to keep kids in line. However, when it comes to protecting your own rights, and keeping you out of jail, it’s important to know the facts.

Whether you’ve spent too much time watching CSI or have enjoyed one too many popcorn cop films, there are a few myths about law enforcement that many seem to believe. Below you’ll find some common myths about police, and some information that will help clear up the falsities.


Police Myths Debunked

Police Myth #1:

Not Talking to the Police is Obstruction of Justice

One particularly popular police myth is in regard to your right to remain silent.

In fact, if a law enforcement officer questions you on the whereabouts of a friend the night of a crime, is it obstruction of justice to remain silent? No, it is not.

On the contrary, according to the Fifth Amendment, under no circumstances may an officer coerce someone into being a witness against oneself. Usually, at the moment police initially speak to you, you don’t know if you’re a suspect or not. You always have the right to not speak with the police. Although obstruction of justice is a real punishable crime, you can’t be charged with it if all you do is remain silent.

An obstruction of justice charge occurs if you:

  1. Lie to the police,
  2. Destroy evidence, or
  3. Intentionally interfere with a police investigation.

Police Myth #2:

Undercover Police Officers Must Identify Themselves if Asked

Though undercover police officers may identify themselves when questioned in films, they are not required to so in real life. Yet another salient police myth is that these officers may not lie when questions.

This simply is not true. There’s nothing to prohibit law enforcement officers from lying while performing their duties. Still, some claim officers must identify themselves on the grounds of entrapment. However, entrapment involves leading someone into engaging in an illegal activity in which they wouldn’t otherwise do. Unfortunately, if you participate in illegal activity with or near an undercover agent, you will require a criminal defense attorney.  Relying on a claim of entrapment won’t help you, and you need a stronger case.

Police Myth #3:

Criminals Hear Their Miranda Rights or They Go Free

Though commonly done, the “reading of your rights” is not necessary. In fact, it is not even read to everyone arrested, nor does it need to be.

If the police catch you in the act of urinating in public, they have the right to arrest you without reading you your Miranda Rights. At this time, we suggest it’s time to consider a criminal defense attorney.

The warning is designed for people who are about to be interrogated; therefore, if the police question you without reading you your rights, anything you say cannot be used against you in court.   Before you consider hiring an attorney to help you walk away from an arrest where they didn’t read your Miranda Rights, be sure they weren’t simply arresting you for a crime you had already committed.

Police Myth #4:

Everyone Gets One Free Phone Call

The idea that the police have to let you use the phone is a Hollywood invention.

Some jails have pay phones you can use to call whenever you wish as long as the person on the other end is willing to pay for the call.  Other jails may allow you to use their phone only once. Phone calls in prisons and jails are a privilege that disappear whenever you stop behaving yourself. Calls are an incentive to keep you in line. Regardless of the availability of phone calls, you DO have the right to an attorney following arrest. You may speak with an attorney after your arrest and during the time police question you.

Police Myth #5:

Officers Must Be Completely Visible at All Times When Making Traffic Stops

This is one of the police myths that takes us back to the idea of entrapment. Many Americans believe officers who hide themselves when conducting speed enforcement are guilty of entrapment.

However, the laws against entrapment have nothing to do with whether or not an officer is visible while a crime occurs. Instead, entrapment is when police officer encourages someone to commit a crime and then later arrests them for that crime. Hiding behind a bush or building with a radar gun doesn’t qualify as entrapment, because you would have sped even if the police officer wasn’t there: they are simply there to catch you when you do.

Hire an Attorney

You don’t have to do this alone! Don’t fall victim to old, police myths. Call California’s Top DUI attorneys with The Kavinoky Law Firm to stand by your side and defend your case. We employ the best criminal defense attorneys in the state so that we can provide you with the best defense possible. Call 24/7 – we don’t sleep – so you can.

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Brianna Wilkins
Brianna Wilkins