- Virtually without exception, every single element of the trial process, as depicted both on television and in film, is complete bullshit. For starters, virtually no cases even go to trial. The percentages vary by state, but on whole at least 98% of all criminal cases are decided by plea bargain. The discrepancy is biggest in California, where only one out of every 5,000 cases goes to trial (before either a judge or jury). Watching a show like "Suits" or "How to Get Away With Murder" absent any context, you'd never know that:
- The entire trial process -- for ANY trial -- take months, if not years. TV shows invariably skip the "boring stuff" like pretrial motions and hearings, voir dire (jury selection), and the endless series of delays that plague virtually every criminal court in America, at least in any city mid-sized or larger. For cases that do go to trial, it may literally be months before there's a time where the prosecutors, defense attorneys and judge all have a free slot on their respective schedules. (On TV, on the other hand, even a murder trial can be scheduled for the same week the defendant was arrested.)
- Acquittals are rare, mainly because no big DA's office has either the time or resources to prosecute a case they aren't practically guaranteed to win. It's a sad fact, but the American justice system as we know it would flat-out collapse if every defendant -- or even a significant percentage of them -- wanted a jury trial. We have neither the judges, courtrooms, or prosecutors available for such a concept.
- There are no 45-second closing arguments. Even speedy cases (1-2 days total) have closings at least 15 minutes long.
That's all I can think of now, but I'll add additional myths/falsehoods if I come up with any.