The CSI Effect: Popular Culture Wreaks Havoc with Real Crime Cases

If you’ve ever turned on a TV then you have probably seen a crime drama.  It seems as though every major television channel – and some of the not-so-major ones – has a special blend of high-tech crime scene drama complete with stunning special effects.  Unfortunately, the resulting impact on real-life court cases in Virginia is worrisome.


Experts contend that slick one-hour crime dramas distort and oversimplify the way that actual criminal investigations unfold.  In addition, some of the creative and unrealistic storylines feed the imagination of viewers, leaving them unable to accept the sometimes straightforward explanations for actual crimes.  If you are involved in a Virginia criminal case that will go before a jury, you may be wondering what effect this might have on your potential jurors.  It’s a good question to ask.


Jurors with unrealistic expectations


When these starry-eyed crime-show viewers end up in the jury box, the real problems start.  Jurors can be reluctant to convict defendants without bulletproof evidence, like clear fingerprints or DNA, the way it often happens on TV.  Some jurors even find improbable new explanations for crimes they’re asked to consider, as their imaginations run wild, ignoring the available facts and evidence before them.


Some law enforcement officials are trying to combat the so-called “CSI Effect” with education programs for the public.  One police department in New Mexico ran a series of classes for members of the public who were either interested in a career investigating crime or were just interested in learning how crimes are really handled.  Other experts contend that not all crime shows negatively affect potential jurors, citing “The First 48” and “Law & Order” as favorites.


Forensic science under scrutiny


As troublesome as imaginative jurors might be, the world of crime scene investigation has bigger problems.  A recently released report by the National Academy of Science’s National Research Council revealed that the quality of forensic evidence in labs across the United States is not what it should be.  Worst of all, the report claims that testimony based on faulty forensic evidence may have resulted in the conviction of innocent people.


With the National Research Council claiming that there isn't enough research behind many forensic techniques to show how accurate and reliable they are and jurors unable to focus on the actual facts in a case, the future of criminal investigations in Virginia and across the nation may be in doubt.


If you need legal assistance with a criminal law case in the Norfolk or Virginia Beach area, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Tavss Fletcher.  We will discuss your concerns and questions for no cost absolutely no obligation.



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