Can Police Lie During Your Interrogation?
If you have ever been locked in an interrogation room, you know it can be pretty intimidating. Of course, you have the right to remain silent, and if the police are doing their jobs, they’ve already Mirandized you and made you aware of that fact. Still, the pressure to reveal what you know about the crime in question, and even to confess, can feel overwhelming. That’s because your interrogation is not just a simple question and answer session. Police have been trained to extract information, and they have a number of extremely potent psychological strategies they employ, not the least of which is deception.
Limits to Deceptive Practices
The fact of the matter is, law enforcement is allowed to misrepresent what they know, and can make claims that seem incriminating. While they are not allowed to lie specifically about your legal rights, they are allowed to misconstrue the facts. For example, they might claim to have found your fingerprints at the scene of a crime or might say that an accomplice has already given you up. The line they cannot cross is this: any statements you make must be voluntary. If the “totality of the circumstances” in a confession indicate that a confession was not voluntary, it may be thrown out. That means they cannot threaten you, use physical intimidation, or otherwise force you to speak to them without the presence of your attorney.
What to Watch out For
Any time you are being questioned by the police, assume you are a suspect. Even seemingly informal chatting and questioning can give them an opportunity to glean information that could be used against you. Always ask if you are free to leave, and if you’re not, keep your lips zipped until your attorney is there.
The Reid Technique
There are three key components of what is known as the Reid Technique that police commonly rely on to extract a confession (whether or not the suspect is guilty). The technique is fundamentally coercive, yet police get away with using it with regularity:
Isolating the Suspect: Police often confine suspects in a small interrogation room in order to make them feel alone and panicked.
Good Cop/Bad Cop–Maximization: Yes, the movies got this one right! One officer will come in telling the suspect that a conviction is inevitable based on the (often false) facts they have, and will ignore any pleas of innocence. The cop will seem confident that they have an air-tight case against you.
GoodCop/Bad Cop—Minimization: Now that you’re feeling frightened and flustered, the good cop moves in to let you know that your crime was understandable, and a confession will lead to lesser charges—maybe even the opportunity to go home.
A Robust Criminal Defense
If you are face to face with police who are trying to get you to talk, the number one rule is to keep mum until a lawyer is there advocating for you. At Lobo Law, our Las Vegas criminal attorneys will fight for the best possible outcomes, regardless of the circumstances. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.