Remember all those legal TV shows you used to watch when you were growing up?
Shows like Suits, Crime Scene Investigations are often popular mediums that explore some aspect of the law.
Even now, some of us may still watch these shows just to take a break from studying.
However once in law school, you will quickly begin to realize the differences between the law and the legal aspect shown on tv.
Hence, here’s a couple of differences between crime shows and real-life investigative works:
1) The manner in which the evidence is collected
In shows such as Crime Scene Investigations (CSI), interference to the evidence usually made to get an important piece of information.
Any interference made to said evidence must be recorded and documented to be presented in the court of law.
The role of any forensic investigator should be to maintain the integrity of evidence so that it remains admissible in a court of law.
2) The amount of time it takes to process these findings
Usually, in crime shows, almost all the time these forensics investigators manage to find what they need in a crime scene in a short period of time. Most of the time the evidence they required is laid in a clear and obvious manner.
For example in CSI Cyber, the amount of time required to analyze a digital code embedded into an AD is almost instantaneous.
Forensics investigations take a long time. As such, a digital forensic at the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commissions (MCMC) says it takes at least two weeks to bypass a digital encryption to access information from electronic devices. (Trial and Error and some guesswork)
It isn’t as easy as it looks on TV folks.
3) “You only have the right to make ONE phone call”
More often than not, suspects in crime shows are almost only given ONE phone call to make. We have already covered this myth. The results? Busted.
The law is fairly balanced in this area. Code C of the Police Criminal and Evidence Act 1984 and Section 28A of the Criminal Procedure Code in the United Kingdom and Malaysia almost guarantees the accused the right to make more than one phone call.
4) Treatment of Suspects in Custody
In Crime Shows such as CSI (most of the series), suspects are treated harshly. The Police usually believe that by doing so, they would be able to break the suspects and obtain the confessions or evidence that they need.
(Photos by KPUM)
The Inspectors at the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) revealed that they treat the suspects in a professional manner. They adopted a diplomatic approach that deals with the psychological aspect of interviewing a potential suspect.
Hence, a brute force approach will not work here.
5) Reliability of Bio-metric Evidence
Crime Shows such as CSI and Bones place heavy emphasis on the reliability of biometric evidence. Fingerprints are usually the magic that leads said forensic team to nail down the primary suspect.
In evidence law, there is circumstantial and direct evidence. Most suspects are often tried entirely on circumstantial evidence. A prime example would be the murder of Canny Ong.
The bio-metric evidence is just one the many evidence used the Prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal trial. This means they need more than just a fingerprint to win their case.
In conclusion, forensic investigative are nowhere dramatic as depicted in these shows.
Nevertheless, these individuals from MCMC and MACC love what they do and that’s all that matters. Love what you do and do what you love.