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7 things crime shows always get wrong, according to law enforcement professionals

Published by Business Insider on Fri, 15 Mar 2019


Some crime shows depict law enforcement and the legal process in an unrealistic way. Although a lot of people can wander onto crime scenes in TV shows, access to them is much more strictly controlled in real life.Popular in TV-show courtrooms, the insanity defense is rarely used in real-life criminal court cases.Considering multiple shows about law enforcement have been on the air for years and new ones are always being released, it's no secret that this type of show is so popular. And it's easy to see whyfrom renegade cops who single-handedly take down suspects to crime labs filled with futuristic tech, some of these shows make the business of being a police officer and working on criminal court cases look dramatic and thrilling.But some parts of these TV shows aren't always accurate. INSIDER consulted with experts to figure out what cop shows and crime dramas always get wrong about working in law enforcement fields. Criminal profiling isn't used as often in real life as it is in TV shows.Criminal profiling is a forensic technique whereby a specialist tries to predict or understand the characteristics and future behavior of an offender based on their past behavior or elements of the crime. Profilers are regular characters in many crime shows and they're often portrayed as having a key part in solving murder investigations. But criminal profiling plays a very different role in actual criminal cases. "In reality, criminal profiling is only used in a limited number of high-profile murder cases and even when it is, forensic psychologists are rarely the ones who crack the case," Dr. Darrel Turner, a forensic psychologist and FBI consultant, told INSIDER. Turner further explained that profiling is unlikely to be used in a typical murder case. He also said it's actually more common for forensic psychologists to be used after an arrest so they can evaluate the suspect for things like their competency to stand trial or their likelihood to re-offend. Although popular in TV courtrooms, the insanity defense is rarely used in real-life criminal cases.The insanity plea or insanity defense is a common plot device used in crime shows, but it's actually a defense you'll rarely see pled in courtrooms."In reality, it's exceptionally difficult for a defendant to successfully plead the insanity defense. This plea defense only works in an extremely small number of cases," explained Turner.According to Cornell Law School, in this defense, "the defendant admits the action, but asserts a lack of culpability based on a mental illness."A study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health found that the insanity defense is only employed in less than 1% of felony cases. When it is used, the defense is only successful about 25% of the time. Furthermore, Turner told INSIDER that criminal defendants who may be struggling with mental health issues often undergo an extensive evaluation by a court-appointed forensic psychologist to determine their competency to stand trial well before a plea is ever entered into court. Simply suffering from a mental illness at the time of the crime is not grounds for entering an insanity plea. "The question is whether they were so incapacitated by their illness that they could not understand the wrongfulness of their actions. Just because a person has a mental illness doesn't mean they can't make a determination between right and wrong," he added. Not all serial killers consistently and constantly commit crimes until they are caught.A common theme in many crime shows is that serial killers don't take any breaks and they won't stop killing until they're caught. But according to Dr. Turner, this is not always the case. "We have seen serial killers time and again who've paused for months, years, even decades between killings," he told INSIDER. "There can be any number of reasons for why they stop, ranging from a fear of getting caught to having a religious experience, or even just the simple reason that they got a new job or met someone new and their life has gotten better."See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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