Single Blog Title

This is a single blog caption

Police Deception and Other Interrogation Tactics

Police Under No Obligation to Tell You the Truth During Arrest or Interrogation

For most people, being arrested and interviewed by police is an unusual occurrence. So, making decisions in what is likely an unusual and highly stressful situation isn’t easy, and making erroneous assumptions under this stress is all too common.

One of those assumptions is that police are required to tell you the truth – about everything – during an arrest, interview, or interrogation. And that assumption can put you in a terrible position legally. Too often, people fail to understand that the job of the police is to make an arrest and help a prosecuting attorney win a conviction by collecting evidence, eyewitness statements, and statements or confessions from suspects. If police have to lie to a suspect in order to build that case, so be it.

How do police lie to suspects? Below are the most common lies police can – and will – use with suspects:

  1. “We’re only trying to help you.” Wrong. Police are tasked with arresting people suspected of criminal offenses and getting those people convicted. “Helping” a suspected walk away is counter to that mission. But if you believe they are trying to help you, you may well end up incriminating yourself, even if you’re guilty of nothing. 
  2. Claiming to have non-existent evidence. Police may tell you they have your DNA or fingerprints from a crime scene, or that a witness has identified you. They may even say they have spoken to a co-defendant if they believe doing so will elicit a confession from you.
  3. Offering a “deal.” Police may legally encourage you to confess to a crime by offering to talk to the prosecutor on your behalf about making a good plea deal, trading a confession for a lesser charge or lighter punishment. However, police have no authority to make such an offer; only a prosecuting attorney may do so. This means you could make a confession and still face the same charge and penalties.
  4. Misstating penalties. Police can overstate the penalties for any offense, essentially threatening you with severe punishment if you don’t confess or cooperate. A prime of example of this is when a suspect commits a low-level crime, say a misdemeanor assault outside a bar, and the cop is trying to elicit a confession out of the defendant. They may threaten to charge you with a more serious crime like 1st-degree assault which carries a minimum of 10 years, or maybe they say they heard you had a weapon.  They do this is an attempt to get you to feel like you ‘need’ to talk to them to negate the lies and exaggerations they are telling you, otherwise it’s going to end up worse than it actually is.  In reality, all they want is your confession because then their job is over; case closed. 
  5. “We’ll just get a search warrant.” If a cop wanted to come into my house without a search warrant, my plain straight up answer would be “No you’re not.” (close door)  Cops threaten to get a warrant instead of actually getting one because they think this will get you to consent to a search, which is easier and will hold up easier in court as compared to the reporting requirements of warrant requests and affidavits.  The police may even say that a search warrant will end up with your house getting ransacked, whereas if you would just consent to a search, they will be on their way soon after. This is all too common.  There is over 2 centuries of caselaw protecting your fourth amendment right to be free from illegal search and seizure.  Police officers must have probable cause that you are committing a crime in order to get a search warrant to search your home for evidence of that crime.  By making a police officer get a search warrant you are merely requiring them to do their job, which will ultimately help your case by holding them accountable to the procedure of obtaining a search warrant.  (*note search warrants are not required for cause if there is probable cause to suspect a crime and evidence will be found in the car in support of that crime).
  6. “You’ll be released today if you make a statement.” Maybe you will be released, depending on what you say, but also maybe not.  When cops say this what they mean is; once you make this statement, we will put it in our report. 
    Then we will take that report to the prosecutor, and depending on the severity of the case, you may be released why they make a decision on whether or not to charge you; or they may issue right away based on the cop’s one sided report that was always going to be written against you.  In some scenarios it may be appropriate to make statements, but if you know you did something illegal it is almost always best just to exercise your 5
    th amendment right to remain silent and contact your lawyer.  Confessing to a felony crime is almost never going to get you out of jail any faster.
  7. “We’re not recording any of this.’’ Maybe; maybe not.  But that is completely irrelevant anyway because a cop doesn’t have to record your confession or statements of guilt; they can just testify that you said it and that they heard it.  Oftentimes, cops actually benefit when statements aren’t recorded because then their version of the conversation will be your word against theirs.  They will write it up in their report as the most straight forward confession ever obtained on Earth, and there will be no record otherwise.  Maybe even forcing you to testify in court later on to refute the alleged confession.  The best strategy is not to say anything, that way the police officer can’t twist your words into claiming you confessed.  
  8. “If you don’t talk to us you’re going to be here for a while,” During an investigation of a serious offense, the police can detain an individual for up to 24 hours while they seek an arrest warrant from a prosecutor and judge.  The threat of you being there for a while is unlikely determined by whether or not you talk to the police.  The police are simply looking for more evidence to build their case.  If you don’t talk to the police you may need to be prepared to wait it out for 24 hours; but at least the police won’t have any incriminating statements or confessions to reference in their police report.  This may lead to the prosecutor “refusing” the case altogether due to lack of evidence because since you didn’t talk, there isn’t any good evidence against you.  Furthermore, not all police officers are interested in holding you for 24 hours, they may have just wanted to see if the threat of doing so would get you to talk to them.  In any event, if the prosecutor issues the case while you are still in custody (within the 24 hours) then you are likely not going home until a judge has a chance to set your bond and it is posted.  If there is no warrant within 24 hours, the police will have to release you while they await the prosecutor’s decision; if the prosecutor charges the case at a later date, a warrant for your arrest will be issued at that time.

Remember, in an arrest and interrogation situation, you are in a strange and stressful situation. The people you’re dealing with are usually extremely experienced and well-versed in the law and legal procedures – and you’re not. So, you are far better off remaining silent until you have an attorney present. Having a lawyer with you during questioning puts you on more even footing with the police and prosecutors, decreasing the likelihood you’ll be deceived during an interrogation and as a result face unnecessary charges and penalties. 

Leave a Reply