How movies and shows don’t portray reality when it comes to arrests and bonds

Tv shows and movies often portray arrests in a very specific way that doesn’t come off as too lengthy or boring but in real life, in many ways, that’s exactly how the process is. Whether it’s speeding up the amount of time you’re actually detained to the idea you only get one phone call in jail, here is the truth about some of the very common media stereotypes.

One phone call is a myth

We have all seen the shows that have the protagonist go to jail and they are always told that they get only one phone call while detained. This is so common in fact that most people who have never had any experience with arrests with either their own or a loved one would assume that this is true but in fact, it’s more complicated than that. What the one phone call really means is that the defendant gets one FREE call. In reality, you can make as many calls as you need to. The catch however is that those calls will be collect and the receiver will need to accept the charges for the call to go through.

Public defenders aren’t a guarantee

Another common myth that happens often is completely understandable because even the Miranda rights that an officer has to recite makes it seem like it should be a guarantee, but the right to a lawyer if cannot afford one is actually not always the case. In fact, you would actually need to apply for a chance to get a public defender. This is to make sure that people who have the resources but merely don’t want to pay lawyers are not using these services to save cash. The application makes you verify your income bracket and based on that, will either assign a public defender to your case free of charge or at least greatly subsidized.

Being declined bail is rare

In shows and movies, it makes it seem like bail gets revoked all the time but in reality, it is actually a pretty rare occurrence. Most crimes that occur are pretty minor and are misdemeanors at most so a judge has little reason to deny bond and in fact, may just offer personal recognizance where you don’t even have to pay a bond to be released. Bail being declined is typically for instances of much more severe crimes such as terrorism, murders, or in some cases where the defendant is incredibly wealthy and there is reason to believe that they would be a high flight risk. Denial of bond is usually more for safety reasons whether to the defendant themselves or the community overall.

Getting bailed out doesn’t happen 24/7

Based on media, one would assume that you can bail a loved one out of jail as soon as you get the call that they have been arrested but bond hearings, paperwork, and just business hours of the front desk actually make it incredibly difficult to avoid spending the night in jail. Bond hearings themselves can sometimes take up to 48 hours from the time of the arrest to happen, then paperwork must be filed and that can only happen during business hours which means that if someone gets arrested at 2 am, they would at least need to wait till the front desk opens in the morning for the paperwork to get filed.

To sum up, the media will always show a version that is made to be quick and entertaining but it is usually at the cost of accuracy and realism.  Though some aspects may be in part true, often it is a lot more complicated than shows make it seem.

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