->'''Strong Bad''': This is a sub-poe-eena! I summons Exhibit 4-B to my chambers!\\
'''Homestar Runner''': Sustained! (hits self in face with gavel)
-->-- ''WebAnimation/StrongBadEmail'' [[http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail128.html #128]]

This is a listing of liberties taken with how law is presented.

Frequently an [[AcceptableBreaksFromReality Acceptable Break From Reality]] in that real litigation takes months, not minutes, and almost none of it happens in court. But watching lawyers read mountains of documents and write briefs isn't something anyone really wants to do. Lawyers don't, because if you're going to watch someone do legal work you may as well do it yourself (and get paid), and laypeople audiences don't because it's ''boring as hell''. So while most depictions of legal procedures outside of literature have very little to do with the way law is actually practiced, most people are okay with this, because real legal procedures tend to be [[TheLawOfConservationOfDetail No Fun At All]].

Note that laws vary across different countries and jurisdictions. What may be therefore seen as an example of this by people from one region may actually be valid legal procedure in another, and vice versa. (This can also be noted for historical works -- most legal systems have been fine-tuned over centuries; go back 200 years and chances are court procedures are comparatively sloppy.) Also note that as with all AcceptableBreaksFromReality, this can get out of hand, particularly when it's the substance of the law, not the procedure, that the creators are screwing up.

'''NOTE: This should not be listed on a work's page as a trope.'''


* AmbulanceChaser: In some jurisdictions (such as Europe), being one of these is illegal. Even places where it's legal still take a very dim view of this. Taking a worthless case just to shake someone down with a scary letter and make them panic-settle is, at the very least, going to net you an envelope in the mail with a none-too-polite letter from their attorney. Making a habit of this will earn you an entry on your public record and/or the disciplinary action section of the state legal circular, up to being disbarred if the courts simply get tired of dealing with you. The same goes for representing clients in an overly aggressive, belligerent, and uncivil manner; taking a no-holds-barred, scorched-earth approach to representation is a great way to lose cases, get sued for malpractice, and, again, find yourself on the wrong end of a smackdown from a pissed-off judge or state bar association.
* AmoralAttorney: Attorneys are supposed to be impartial and give all clients the best representation that they can possibly provide. If they absolutely cannot represent a client in good faith, they have an ethical and legal obligation to relieve themselves of their duty; the level of moral bankruptcy that is often seen in fiction would have gotten most attorneys suspended or disbarred a ''long'' time ago. A criminal defense attorney will tell you that providing the best possible representation to the worst people serves a twofold purpose: it keeps the police and prosecution honest and forces them to do things by the book, and it eliminates the possibility of any sort of successful appeal from the defendant.
* BailEqualsFreedom: Bail is treated as an easy way to skip a future trial and possible sentencing. In real life, it's a monetary guarantee that the accused will show up for trial and "jumping bail" is a crime in itself, and flight risks or those who pose a clear and present threat to the community will generally not be granted bail.
* ChalkOutline: Not done in RealLife. It contaminates the scene. May have been occasionally used in the distant past, before cameras.
* ChewbaccaDefense: Creative or unorthodox tactics have a place in law. Frivolous and/or sophistic ones do not. A good judge will tell an attorney who is using one to quit wasting the court's time.
* CitizenshipMarriage: Just because you marry someone from another country doesn't mean you automatically become a citizen of that country, and immigration authorities are quite wise to the usual green card/sham marriage tricks.[[labelnote:note]]At best, it reduces the time it takes to become a naturalized citizen. The same may apply where children are concerned: the children may be considered to be citizens of whichever country they were born in, depending on the citizenship law of the county, but that doesn't mean the immigrant parent(s) automatically become citizens.[[/labelnote]]
* ConvictionByContradiction: While a legal case has to hold together logically to some extent, "logic dictates that this must be what happened" is ''not'' sufficient for a conviction in a criminal case. In a civil case, the principle of ''res ipsa loquitur'' (the thing speaks for itself) applies, and it basically amounts to "we can't conclusively prove just ''how'' this occurred, but there is simply no explanation that does not open the defendant up to liability" (i.e., a section of pallet racking collapses and crushes an employee; whatever the reason may be, properly maintained and loaded pallet racks are not supposed to suddenly collapse on people). Furthermore, an investigation that seems may be running solely on the fact someone used [[SuspiciouslySpecificTense the wrong grammar]] on his statement as "'''the''' clue" (to give an example, but equally flimsy things have been used in fiction) would probably be dismissed as harassment.
* ConvictionByCounterfactualClue: A defendant's statement, testimony, or alibi, or a witness's testimony is not automatically and completely discredited just because it contains one item that isn't absolutely true. Trials in some places happen months or even years after the fact, depending on the crime; in that time, details can very easily become fuzzy in a person's memory.
* CopsNeedTheVigilante: Law enforcement officers and agencies cannot hire or use someone else to circumvent their own rules. There are laws for that sort of loophole, like entrapment.
* CourtroomAntic: Many of these common in fiction would result in the lawyer being warned, and possibly removed from the case or punished for contempt of court. Major antics could be cause for the verdict to be overturned on appeal (See "OffOnATechnicality"), or could cause the judge to declare a mistrial, and a consistently ill-behaved lawyer would risk disbarment. While the courts tend to be a little more lenient with ''pro se'' litigants, being disruptive, verbally abusive, or aggressive will still result in the court telling you to knock it off, and habitual bad behavior in the courtroom, when combined with a lengthy, well-established track record of abusive ''pro se'' litigation and LoopholeAbuse to evade consequences, presents a strong case for being declared a vexatious litigant.
* CrimeOfSelfDefense: What is and is not "self-defense" is complicated and thorny legal ground, and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Generally speaking, self-defense claims require that the threat instigated the event, you only used the amount of force necessary to remove the threat, and immediately stopped once the threat was gone. And even that only ''might'' work. Telling the nice police officer "But it was self-defense!" won't keep you out of court[[note]]In most Commonwealth and US jurisdictions, self-defense is an 'affirmative defense' - the defendant in effect has to admit technical guilt, and then argue that it was a justifiable action despite this. Few lawyers, especially in the US, want to ever go with something that involves the client being 'guilty until proven justified', for obvious reasons.[[/note]], and it is most certainly ''not'' a defense to things like DisproportionateRetribution.
* DiplomaticImpunity: Real-life abuses of it definitely occur, but any nation that values its relationship with the host country ''will'' deal with it. International incidents do not exactly foster goodwill, especially serious criminal offenses. Should the sending country not deal with it, the host can always make the offender "PersonaNonGrata" (or, in layman's terms, "you've more than worn out your welcome, get out and don't come back"), which is not great for international relations, but neither is inaction on the sender's part. Matters can be complicated in cases where the offender has committed an offense that is treated far more harshly in the sending country.
* DisregardThatStatement: There are types of questions an attorney simply may not ask a witness in court. There are types of statements a trial attorney may not make in court. Asking such questions or making such statements deliberately, then backing down from it with "Disregard that" or "Withdrawn" is a risky tactic for a trial lawyer. The courts do have the power to sanction a lawyer who does this excessively or blatantly, not to mention the risk of creating something appeal-worthy. As a rule, the sort of things that gets said in fiction would get most lawyers in a world of hurt.
* DivorceAssetsConflict: Divorce has a way of bringing out the absolute worst in people, but the scorched-earth behavior that is often seen in fiction can and will lead to sanctions against both the offending party and their attorney. Your attorney's job is to advocate for your interests, ''not'' help you wage war on your ex-spouse.
* EaglelandOsmosis: People in every country have seen a lot of American {{Law Procedural}}s, and often assume the law works similarly when making one set in their own country. Blame Hollywood.
* EmancipatedChild: Truth in television, though less common and less easy than TV would have you believe. There has to be evidence that the parents are unfit to take care of them, that there are no relatives willing or able to act as legal guardians, that they are sufficiently mature and capable of making good decisions, and that the child can reasonably support themselves (meaning that they can demonstrate that they are currently financially self-sufficient and will continue to be, as well as being unlikely to apply for welfare or resort to illegal sources of income.) They will ''not'' be granted custody of younger siblings at the same time, either, unless circumstances are well and truly bizarre; if both parents are unfit, there are no willing, able, or fit relatives who could step up, and the petitioner is able to sufficiently care for the siblings and the court feels that it would be in their mutual best interest, they ''may'' grant it, but it's a high threshold.
* EmptyCopThreat: They may try it. But they do so knowing it's an empty threat.
* EnhancedInterrogationTechniques: In the past, it was used (hence references to "rubber hoses" or "the third degree" or vague threats by cops to "take you down to the station and see how tough you are" in many HardBoiledDetective novels.) Now, even suggesting it is a no-go.
* FailedExecutionNoSentence: There used to be a time when people surviving an execution (or a set amount of execution attempts, such as being hanged three times) were given a full pardon, being seen as God's will. More recently (talking at least a hundred-plus years or so), this was started to be seen as a no-no (this is why any execution sentencing will have the judge saying that the method will be applied "until (the prisoner is) dead"). Of course, FictionIsntFair and not only does this code lives on, but sometimes will be presented in a sillier fashion.
* FingertipDrugAnalysis: At best, it's stupid. At worst, it's evidence-tampering. And it's not up to the cop investigating the scene to figure out what a mysterious substance is, anyway. That's what the crime lab is for.
* AFoolForAClient: In real life, representing oneself ''pro se'' is generally a really bad idea, but there is little truth to the notion that all ''pro se'' litigants are either crazy or have no case. Most are just people of limited means trying to resolve a problem to the best of their ability. Crazies and bullies exist, but they do not represent the majority of ''pro se'' litigants. Also, courts recognize that a good ''pro se'' litigant is trying to resolve their issue, and generally work with them or take it easy on them. Criminal defense is rather different, however. While misdemeanors are regularly handled ''pro se'' unless there is a procedural dispute[[note]]though it is often sensible to get some sort of formal legal advice anyway, if not necessarily courtroom defense, even if you mean to plead no contest - the real reason it is foolish here is that you may not understand the ramifications of the charge, and while for things like moving violations the cost of an actual defense would be more than the penalty would come to, legal counsel is ''always'' an option, and usually a wise move[[/note]], in many jurisdictions in the US, ''pro se'' defense for a '''felony''' requires the judge to explicitly allow the defendant to go without legal counsel, before proceedings commence, and the rules for permitting it grow ever more strict as the severity of the crime increases (this is counter-balanced by the Miranda rule requiring the state to provide a public defender if the defendant cannot afford private counsel). It is nearly impossible to get a judge to permit a ''pro se'' defense in a murder or rape case. Furthermore, the Bar Association in most states outright prohibits a current or former lawyer from defending themselves in such a case, and will penalize (or even disbar) a standing officer of the court for even requesting it.
* FreudianExcuse: In fiction, defense attorneys have a pretty good track record with getting clients off incredibly light or getting them off completely by using a deeply painful or abusive childhood or a generally terrible life as a defense for why they did what they did. In real life, courts don't really care about how shitty your childhood was or how much your life sucks for the most part, they just care about what you are accused of doing. If it ''does'' come up, it's usually during sentencing, though it can also affect flimsier charges (usually by invalidating the intent portion) and may also be a factor in competence evaluations and/or insanity pleas, as people who have been so warped by trauma as to become fundamentally divorced from reality may present a compelling case for an insanity plea or incompetence finding.
* FrivolousLawsuit: Lawyers are required by law to make a reasonable inquiry into the factual and legal merit of every case before filing, in order to reasonably ensure that it is legitimate; if they fail to do so, they can face sanctions. In RealLife, most frivolous suits are simply thrown out of court. Furthermore, threatening someone with a worthless lawsuit just to intimidate them is likely to result in a letter from their attorney that can be loosely translated as "stop wasting my time," or setting up a MortonsFork where the lawyer says "I know you have no case, so either drop the lawsuit or get destroyed in court." Repeatedly filing these as a ''pro se'' litigant is also a great way to be declared a vexatious litigant, which doesn't bar you from filing so much as it makes it incredibly difficult and expensive to do so as a way of curbing a lengthy, well-established pattern of abuse.
* GoldDigger: This is what prenuptial agreements are for. While they generally aren't 100% foolproof, a good prenup will keep one of these from hollowing you out in a divorce. As for wills, one of these convincing a testator to leave everything to them presents a slam-dunk case for undue influence come probate.
* GradeSchoolCEO: Minors (especially those under the age of 12) in most developed nations cannot sign contracts or hold employment. When a parent dies, leaving control of major assets to their child or children, a Trust or Conservatorship will be created by the court to manage the assets and look after the best interest of the child, ''if'' the parent didn't create one in their will.
* HeroInsurance: In RealLife, such things as "Good Samaritan" Laws exist to help people prevent from getting sued ''if'' they have to help with an emergency -- but only within reason. Not getting sued if you hurt someone while applying the Heimlich Maneuver is "within reason". Demolishing five city blocks while pursuing a criminal as a vigilante is ''not''. And also needs be said -- Good Samaritan Laws don't ''force'' you to help.
* HighAltitudeInterrogation: Like other types of JackBauerInterrogationTechnique / EnhancedInterrogationTechniques, information obtained through them would be seen as illegally acquired (and unreliable because it was given under torture) and a ''serious'' backfire on the career of anybody who so much as proposes it would ensue.
* HilaritySues: Seriously depends on the application and the jurisdiction. There are times when (seen from the outside in) it would be perfectly legal to apply them (yet FictionIsntFair), but other times it falls under the purview of FrivolousLawsuit and all the issues it implies (explained above).
* HollywoodLaw: The multiple methods through which Hollywood has perverted law in order to squeeze a little bit more drama out of a law and order story is just impossible to count. Suffice to say, it's easier to point out when is law being showcased ''correctly''.
* InheritanceMurder: Slayer clauses automatically prevent beneficiaries from inheriting anything if they kill the testator.
* InhumanableAlienRights: Considering the fact that we have not made actual extraterrestrial contact, it is impossible to determine how this Trope would actually work out in RealLife--and yet, long story short, [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joly_v_Pelletier the one court case known that could be considered precedent for the ruling of "if you're an extraterrestrial, you have no rights"]] is very visibly a judge's use of LaserGuidedKarma on a FrivolousLawsuit's plaintiff. Several jurisdictions (such as UsefulNotes/{{Scotland}}) apply murder under a broad sense of "willful destruction of life", and there are 70 nations [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_cloning that currently have laws forbidding human cloning]] -- should it ever become possible.
* InsanityDefense: In real life, ''if'' an insanity defense works, the defendant doesn't walk out of court a free person. They walk out of court in the company of a couple of burly orderlies from a mental institution. Whether they ever walk out of ''there'' a free person depends on the psychiatrists and psychologists. Their stay can very well be longer than what their prison sentence would have been. Also, an insanity defense is only used in less than 1% of US criminal trials, and is successful ~25% of the time. That's less than one quarter of one one-hundredth of criminal cases that it works. Note that this has nothing to do with legal competence; being adjudicated incompetent is an entirely different matter, though it often follows that someone who is legally incompetent is likely also criminally incompetent.
* InsuranceFraud and RealEstateScam: They happen, but real-life insurance and fair-housing investigators are ''much'' wiser to the usual tricks than fictional ones tend to be.
** The incidence, and success, of such cases often varies wildly by jurisdiction, especially in what used to called the Second and Third World nations - for example, {{Flopsy}} and other vehicular accident scams became a serious problem in the Russian Confederation in the late 1990s and early 2000s, which led to the widespread adoption of dashcams. Note, however, that the crux of most such scams is to get the victim to make an immediate payoff in order to ''avoid'' involving the troubled, underfunded, and often corrupt police and court systems in the areas hardest hit by post-Cold War economic downturns. This seems to have eased since 2010 or so, but at the same time it has grown more common in other countries such as Vietnam, Brazil, and the Philippines as their economies rapidly change.
* InterrogationByVandalism: Damage to property (or threatening to) is illegal anyway, let alone when used to get information.
* InVinoVeritas: TruthInTelevision, but not as much as fiction would have you believe. Still, ask a detective who has been around for long enough and odds are decent that they will remember at least one case that was cold or on its way to becoming cold that wound up being rejuvenated by a drunken slip of the tongue.
* JackBauerInterrogationTechnique: Varies depending on jurisdiction. Varies ''wildly''.
* KickTheSonOfABitch: Courts frankly don't give a shit about how much your victim deserved what was coming to them, and impersonal malice as opposed to [[PayEvilUntoEvil deliberately targeting bad people]] may honestly be more in your favor, as it presents a less compelling case for premeditation. Ask anyone who has worked in criminal justice for any meaningful amount of time and they will tell you that a significant amount of violent crime victims are just as bad as the people who victimized them, and they'll also tell you that no, it usually doesn't make a meaningful difference.
* LeonineContract: Varies wildly by jurisdiction, but in general contracts that have flat-out inhumane terms and conditions (such as forcing the signer to become a literal life-long slave of whoever owns the document) are considered unenforceable or at least severely looked down on by the law.
* MadeOutToBeAJerkass: A very risky move on a RealLife court of law. Even the biggest jerk in the galaxy can have an actual legal grievance, so trying to redirect the blame to make the plaintiff look like [[AssholeVictim an asshole that deserves whatever crime he was a victim of]] just makes the defendant look like a ManipulativeBastard--also, this is why juries are instructed and screened to try to keep bias out of the equation (although it doesn't always succeed). It can also actually be a defense in defamation cases; if the plaintiff's reputation is already so terrible that there's no more damage that can realistically be done, the "actual harm" portion of most defamation statutes may be impossible to satisfy.
* MotiveEqualsConclusiveEvidence: Having a reason to commit the crime is not enough evidence to put you in jail nor for the investigators to stop looking for answers.
* MurderSimulators: While people have been killed in the name of video games before, using the fact that a person played a violent video game (or had a history of playing them) is not enough to declare anyone mentally unfit or insane.
* MustStateIfYoureACop: Undercover officers are under no obligation to inform criminals that they're police, even when asked about it point-blank. That said, cops are in no hurry to correct people who believe this; letting the urban legend thrive helps with their job.
* NoBadgeNoProblem: In real life, the police take a very dim view of people acting like they have legal authority when their position does not give it. In this case what varies by jurisdiction is not ''whether'' you'll get in trouble for doing it, but ''how deep'' the trouble will be. Exceptions exist (namely citizen's arrest), but those are highly situational and afford you far fewer privileges than would normally be available to law enforcement.
* NotProven: It's not enough for the police and prosecutors to say "well, who else could it have been?" -- they have to have a sufficiently strong legal case against a specific person, built on admissible evidence and through witness testimony. In addition, in the United States, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and it must be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant is guilty. In short, it's not "no one else could have done it;" it's "only this person could have done it, and here's why." Sort of subverted for civil cases, as "preponderance of the evidence" is the civil standard of proof and can generally be taken to mean "there's enough evidence to indicate that you're liable"; there ''can'' be a shadow of a doubt, but the evidence against you is strong enough that beyond maybe a few slightly contentious points, any real doubt is willful contrarianism.
* NoWarrantNoProblem: Varies by jurisdiction, but broadly speaking it is illegal in most jurisdictions (either barging into a house to obtain evidence without a warrant or stalking a suspect for the sake of PerpSweating) "In plain view" is the most common exception (i.e., the police pulled you over for expired tags and spotted meth-making equipment through the back window), but most exceptions are extremely circumstantial.
* OffOnATechnicality: A case being "dismissed on a technicality" almost always means that the police (during their investigation) or the prosecutor (during the trial) screwed up big-time and did something that they aren't allowed to do, or didn't do something that they are required to do. In some cases it means that the prosecutor chose the wrong charges to file. Civilly, losing a valid case due to this typically means the same thing: someone did something that they weren't supposed to do, didn't follow procedure, or acted in bad faith.
** A commonly invoked mistake (when in United States) is that the police did not remember to read the suspect their rights upon arresting. Reciting the "Miranda Rights" or "Miranda Warning" is only necessary for anything the suspect said while in custody to be used as evidence. If witness testimonies and/or physical evidence is sufficient for conviction, reading the suspect their rights is not necessary.
* OmnidisciplinaryLawyer: As a general rule of thumb, in small towns you'll find "country lawyers" who do a little of everything, for typically small stakes. For cases involving large sums of money or very complex, specialized areas of law, you'll want an attorney who specializes in that area, and in fact, most small-town lawyers will "tag-team" with a specialized lawyer to take a case to court. It's just like the difference between a general-practice physician and a specialized surgeon.
* OnePhoneCall: In the US, you don't have to be given "one phone call". You have to be given a reasonable opportunity to get in touch with legal counsel.
* OnlyBadGuysCallTheirLawyers: If you've been charged with anything with consequences above a ticket, '''''call your lawyer'''''. You are always entitled to legal counsel, whether you have committed the crime you are accused of or not. Using that right does ''not'' make you look guilty by default, and having a lawyer present can protect you from a wide range of things.
* OnOneCondition: Can be TruthInTelevision up to a point, but particularly outlandish conditions and/or those that restrict the beneficiary from exercising a fundamental right or are otherwise against public policy are likely to be found invalid.
* PayEvilUntoEvil: Courts ''hate'' vigilantes and revenge stories and they're not going to give you a break just because your victim really had it coming. At best, it ''may'' serve as a mitigating factor during sentencing depending on how good a reason you had. At worst, it will result in an even harsher sentence, especially if what you did struck beyond the pale or if the prosecution can establish that you were just looking for a good excuse to seriously harm or kill someone.
* ThePerryMasonMethod: The defense does not have to find the "real" culprit -- to establish reasonable doubt, all a competent defense attorney needs to do is weaken the prosecution's case to "not proven" and/or posit another theory of events.
* PleaBargain: The reality varies widely by jurisdiction. In the US, where it's most common, the biggest difference between fact and fiction is when it's offered; in RealLife, a plea bargain is almost never offered once the trial has begun.
* PrecrimeArrest: For the most part, the current justice systems around the world make a serious emphasis on "innocent until proven guilty" and "punishment after the crime". Attempting to capture someone before a crime ''has'' been committed (and there is no solid evidence of criminal conspiracy to support the suspicion) would be seen as wrongful arrest or even entrapment... and this is without taking into account the sci-fi angle of the Trope (which could be seen as violation of privacy, plus whichever discussion would ensue if there is a possibility, however small, for the criminal to say "ScrewDestiny"...)
* RapeAndRevenge: The type of premeditated manhunts that are standard to this trope would be considered straight-up murder, especially when it's someone other than the victim themselves doing it. (See also CrimeOfSelfDefense).
* ReadTheFinePrint: Contract law is as wildly varied and thorny as self-defense law, but as a rule of thumb you must at ''least'' to be able to read it (and although fiction depicts contracts as irrevocably binding, in reality courts sometimes decide that certain parts of a contract are unenforceable for one reason or another, with vagueness and/or being overly broad being the most common reasons.)
* ReadingYourRights: Varies ''wildly'' by jurisdiction.
* RogueJuror: Specifically, the "AmateurSleuth in the jury starts own investigation" sub-division (which has appeared in various ways including TropeCodifier "Film/TwelveAngryMen"). Any attempt at doing this, be it sneaking out from wherever the jury has been sequestered or try to ask questions to a witness right in the middle of the court room) will equal getting kicked out of the jury and probably get arrested for perjury.
* RulesLawyer: Varies wildly. Depending on the laws being cited, there is bound to be ''some'' stretching of definitions in a way that helps your case and/or hinders theirs, but there is a definite line of acceptability. It's up to a judge to decide when you've gone from "a bit of a stretch, but okay" to "blatant ChewbaccaDefense", and sanctions may be possible if you have a particularly flimsy or outright frivolous case that you attempted to prop up with some particularly ridiculous semantic leaps. Words count, but they don't mean shit if the case itself has no meat, and if you are successful in basing a substantial portion of your case around the interpretation of certain laws, it was either due to an incredibly specific set of circumstances or a badly-worded statute or decision.
* SensitivityTraining: A regular workplace comedy trope in fiction, an actual legal necessity in RealLife. Companies that are able to show that employees were told what not to do (and yet did it anyway) in a sexual harassment or hostile work environment lawsuit will be better protected than those who didn't.
* SimpleCountryLawyer: TruthInTelevision in the past, but increasingly rare today to the point of being a DeadHorseTrope (See "OmnidisciplinaryLawyer").
* SocialServicesDoesNotExist: In RealLife, they ''do''; while their effectiveness is largely tied to budgetary limitations, they do the absolute best that they can. As a result, events that would bring their attention to a child's plight (such as HilariouslyAbusiveChildhood) but would be shrugged off in fiction ''will'' be dealt with.
* SolomonDivorce: Not ''totally'' unusual in RealLife divorces (in the legal terminology, this is usually called a "split parenting situation"), however because it can be a traumatic experience for a child, the total disconnection from the other siblings that is seen in fiction is frowned upon if not forbidden by law (so such thing as visitation times or some psychological counsel are at least suggested).
** A regular variation on this Trope is that one parent gets the sole legal and physical/residential custody of the children[[note]]The terminology is inconsistent across jurisdictions.[[/note]] with no visitation/parenting time for the other spouse. This one is a doozy... [[note]]In fiction, it's a quick-and-easy way to give a manipulative ex the ultimate triumph and to show how broken family law is; all that is needed are a few fabricated abuse statements and boom, the kids are all theirs. In real life, it does ''not'' happen without a ton of evidence to suggest that anything less would be likely to bring undue harm to the kids. Yes, family law is an ugly field and divorce is one of the ugliest aspects of it, but the courts are loath to completely cut off a parent and hate to give one parent exclusive access to the child unless it really is the best option. (This can get a bit confusing, however; a parent can have sole physical/residential custody, but then the other parent can have overnight visitation/parenting time for a substantial fraction of the child's time, e.g. alternate weekends. Some places would call this "joint" or "shared" physical/residential custody, but others would not, reserving that terminology for arrangements that call for a 50/50 split or something like that.) Indeed, in some jurisdictions (e.g. the United States), access to one's children is seen as a fundamental human right, on par with the the freedom of conscience and the right to a fair trial. If someone receives it, there is absolutely no doubt that the other parent either agreed to the arrangement, was unfit, or was otherwise a danger to the child. In general, only the most nonfunctional of addicts, [[TrashOfTheTitans the absolute worst hoarders]], serial physical or sexual abusers, the nonfunctional mentally ill, and other people whose behavior or lifestyles are completely inimical to the well-being of their children and who should absolutely not be around them under any circumstances will be barred from seeing their children. Even then, the bar is often temporary; for instance, while it is common in cases where one parent of a child has successfully obtained a permanent or long-term domestic violence restraining order against the other parent for the abuser to be barred from seeing the child as part of the order, the usual thing is to allow that parent to prove him/herself capable of handling visitation (including overnights) by completing psychological assessment, counseling, or other psychiatric/psychological treatment (if necessary).[[/note]]
* SpousalPrivilege: Fictional uses of this tend to be considerably broader than RealLife laws allow.
* StopOrIWillShoot: This varies from country to country.
* StreisandEffect: TruthInTelevision, and can often play a major role in deciding whether litigation is worth it. Yes, you may have a case, yes, you'll probably prevail, and hell, you may even be in the right morally. If the circumstances of the case make it very likely that you'll kick up a shitstorm by litigating, however, a good attorney will advise you to seriously consider whether being right is worth the blow to your reputation. There are times where a favorable determination is ''not'' worth the consequences in the court of public opinion.
* ThereIsNoHigherCourt: Well, yes, ''eventually'' you'll get to the highest court that has jurisdiction to hear the case. Depending on the jurisdiction that could be quite a few steps.
* WeAllLiveInAmerica: Once again, RealLife law varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The United States has created a large amount of "law" shows since the inception of film and television. We '''seriously''' recommend that you consult your local laws, otherwise you (and your show) will be mocked for CriticalResearchFailure at the very least.
* WrongfulAccusationInsurance: In Real Life, there are three things wrong with this scenario:
## If someone has been successfully framed for a serious crime, they most likely aren't free to investigate it. They're in jail or on the run from the law.
## To the legal system, ''why'' you committed a crime is utterly irrelevant. Having a good reason doesn't get you any points unless, say, it gets murder knocked down to involuntary manslaughter.
## If you've already been ''convicted'', even later-proven innocence is not a defense. You don't have a right to a pardon, a new trial (unless there was a procedural error) or any reduction of your sentence.[[note]]Depending on jurisdiction...post-conviction relief on the basis of actual innocence varies from state to state in the US. In particular, the emergence of DNA testing has lead to many new state laws allowing for challenging one's conviction based on evidence not available at the time. The Supreme Court has ruled that that's not a right, though.[[/note]]




[[folder:Comic Books]]

* Comic book writer and lawyer Bob Ingersoll has written the column "The Law Is a Ass" since the 1980s. In it, he points out various legal situations that comic book writers have gotten wrong in their stories.


[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]

* In ''Film/IronMan2'', during the Senate Committee hearing, [[ObstructiveBureaucrat Senator Stern]] orders Rhodes to read a single line from his report on the Iron Man armor -- ''clearly'' out of context -- about Iron Man being a potential threat, then cuts him off before he could explain what he meant. Tony had every right to ask Rhodes to finish his statement. Of course, Rhodey [[LampshadeHanging calls out the Senator when he makes this demand]].
* In ''Film/JemAndTheHolograms'', Jerrica is asked to sign a solo recording contract by music executive Erica Raymond. Nearly everything about the signing scene is wrong:
** There is no lawyer present for the signing, nor a review of the contract. Jerrica simply takes a cursory look at the contact and signs without reading any of the fine print.
** Multiple reviews of the film pointed out that there are virtually no major record label contracts that ''only'' require you to initial the first page. Nearly every contract signing, regardless of industry, requires that the signer(s) read and initial each page so that they understand what is being said.
** Jerrica waives away any royalties or income until an unspecified point in time after her tour is completed. No mention is made by her of how she's supposed to support herself, how Erica's offer is better than any other label's or how this is legally sound.
** Finally, Jerrica signs the document as "Jem", her stage alias. Not only is this absurd, but it isn't legally enforceable. If she chose to, Jerrica could break the contract and simply claim that the signature wasn't hers if she was taken to court.
* In ''Film/IShotJesseJames'', the [[{{Outlaw}} outlaw]] Frank James is acquitted of charges in Colorado, and the jail immediately lets him go, even though they acknowledge he's wanted in other states like Kansas and Missouri. In reality, the Colorado authorities would’ve alerted the other states (telegrams were widespread by 1892, so there wouldn’t be a long delay) and kept Frank locked up until one of the states contacted them about extradition via the U.S. Marshals.
* ''Film/TheHitmansBodyguard'':
** Massive liberties are taken to make Kincaid's testimony the only thing that can get Belorussian ex-dictator Dukhovich convicted at the Hague. A victim whose family was killed in front of him and was put in a work camp for three years has his ''entire'' testimony dismissed out of hand, with the implications that all of the other witnesses so far have had the same. Such testimony would not simply be declared "hearsay" (which, by the way, is when a witness is asked ''what they were told happened by somebody else'', not ''what happened to them personally'') and struck even if the defense claimed they were merely political opponents doing smear jobs. Somehow Kincaid was the only person to have [[spoiler: pictures]] as proof of Dukhovich's crimes despite this being set in the modern day and that is the only kind of evidence that seems to work.
** Also, it is entirely possible to have witnesses testify from remote locations. Kincaid could easily have testified on a video chat from his cell [[spoiler: and given the website information from there]]. This is ''common practice'' when the witness might be endangered by coming to the trial.
** Even disregarding the above, you'd think the court would be a little more lax with the ExactTimeToFailure considering that ''someone tried to murder Kincaid en route to the Hague''.

* ''Literature/ShadowOps'' has to take some... liberties with the law to make its story surrounding a SuperhumanRegistrationAct even remotely possible.
** The [=McGauer-Linden=] Act, which allows the government to imprison or conscript Latents into military service - especially as a huge number of Latents are ''[[ChildSoldier teenagers]]'' - is ''extremely'' unconstitutional. In US law, no Congressional act or executive order can violate the Constitution, and the [=McGrauer-Linden=] Act is among the most extreme imaginable violations of due process, which is protected by the Fifth Amendment.
** In addition, the mere existence of FOB Frontier is a violation of the War Powers Resolution, which says that the President must inform Congress within 48 hours of a foreign military deployment and must withdraw them within ninety days without a Congressional authorization of military support. [[spoiler:It's no surprise that the President is really, ''really'' unhappy with the idea of FOB Frontier becoming public and is willing to let everyone there die to keep it a secret.]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/MadamSecretary'': During the election arc in the first half of season three, President Dalton, after losing his party's primary and unable to win a majority in the electoral college while running as an independent, instead forces a three-way draw so that the election will be punted to the House of Representatives, where he ekes out a win. This part is perfectly legitimate under the quite unique UsefulNotes/AmericanPoliticalSystem (it's happened three times in real life), but after that his main rival, Governor Sam Evans, sues in Ohio, hoping to get their waiver of their sore-loser law that got Dalton on the ballot overturned under a lobbying law, thereby invalidating Dalton's win in Ohio and giving Evans the win. This idea ignores a fundamental fact about the electoral college: all the state popular vote does is ''suggest'' to the state's electors how the residents ''want'' them to vote, and all electoral college ballots are final once submitted. At most Evans might delegitimize Dalton's win and cause him political problems down the road, but he can't actually overturn the election once the electoral college and House have already voted.
* In the ''Series/StarTrekDiscovery'' episode "[[Recap/StarTrekDiscoveryS1E03ContextIsForKings Context Is for Kings]]", protagonist Michael Burnham suspects Captain Lorca is developing biological weapons aboard ''Discovery'' and cites the Geneva Conventions' ban on them to him. There's a couple problems with this:
** In real life, the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention cited actually ''doesn't'' outlaw bioweapons; those are covered by a different set of treaties (the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibits their use but not their creation, while the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention outlaws them altogether). However, Burnham also cites a fictional 22nd century version of the Conventions under which these are apparently covered.
** In the preceding episode, "[[Recap/StarTrekDiscoveryS1E02BattleAtTheBinaryStars Battle at the Binary Stars]]", Burnham and Captain Georgiou developed a plan that directly violated a ''different'' portion of the Geneva Conventions, namely [[spoiler:[[https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v2_rul_rule80 Article 6 of 1980 Protocol II]], mining an enemy corpse so that it would detonate when recovered]], which made her statement to Lorca seem rather hypocritical to viewers versed in international law.


* Website/{{Cracked}} brings us [[http://www.cracked.com/article_18385_7-bullshit-police-myths-everyone-believes-thanks-to-movies.html 7 Bullshit Police Myths Everyone Believes (Thanks to Movies)]], discussing various ways that movies get real life law wrong, including the InsanityDefense and MirandaRights.