The purpose of this Article is to identify and discuss the numerous laws that Cohle broke during the course of the eight episodes – each episode is discussed separately in Sections II through IX. Here, an extremely important point needs to be made – this Article is not intended to pinpoint exactly how many laws that Cohle would likely be convicted of violating; rather, as is the case generally in the legal profession, many of the actual offenses and charges would be subject to prosecutorial discretion and therefore reasonable minds may disagree with the exact charge. To the extent possible, this Article discusses the potential criminal charges that may be brought against Cohle but clearly understands that the actual number and degree may vary greatly, particularly in different jurisdictions and with different prosecutors. To that end, the Article will only tally and calculate potential state law charges but may make reference to some potential federal crimes where applicable. In an effort to keep track of the various charges and potential maximum sentence, the Article will keep the Cohle Crime Count (“CCC”) and Cohle Maximum Sentence Tally (“CMST”) after each potential charge in the footnotes and will assume a potential consecutive sentence. Further, since the show takes place in three distinct time periods, to avoid any confusion, the current statutes will be cited – even though in criminal proceedings the law at the time of the commission of the crime is applicable and no statute of limitations will apply. Additionally, in Sections II, A. and V, A., the Article will briefly address a few of the more critical legal issues raised in the show. For example, it will posit that Cohle’s entire videotaped interview in 2012 – when he was the subject of an investigation similar to the Dora Lange murder from 1995 – would have been admissible in a subsequent proceeding against him, if any, regardless of the fact that he had been drinking alcohol purchased by and provided to him by the investigating detectives, Detective Maynard Gilbough and Detective Thomas Papania. Moreover, if Cohle was actually charged for any crimes while conducting his rogue investigation in Episodes Four and Five, the Article discusses his potential defense of acting in an undercover capacity and concludes such a defense would likely not be successful. By the end, the Article will quantify, with some degree of specificity, Cohle’s statement that, throughout the course of the show, he did in fact do “terrible things” with impunity.
Kevin J. Cimino,
True Criminal?: An Analysis and Discussion of the Crimes Committed by Detective Rustin Cohle in Season One of HBO’s Mini-Series True Detective,
6 Pace. Intell. Prop. Sports & Ent. L.F.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/pipself/vol6/iss1/3