Police can legally lie and use dishonest tactics to get confessions.
Lies, manipulation, and overall dishonest police interrogation techniques are major contributing factors to the epidemic of wrongful convictions in the United States. Some studies estimate that 4% to 6% of the U.S. prison population has been wrongly convicted.
To protect their rights and freedom, people need to understand how police pressure suspects into making confessions - even when they're innocent. At The Webb Firm, P.C., our experienced Texas criminal defense lawyers advise people being questioned by police not to talk. Instead, clearly tell the officers that you are invoking your Constitutional rights to stay silent and have an attorney present during questioning.
Never let an officer stop you from verbally asserting your 5th Amendment right to silence and 6th Amendment right to counsel. Interrupting your declaration of rights is just one example of the dishonest techniques police use to intimidate people into confessions. For example, here's what the Texas Police Chiefs Association had to say about this during a presentation on the history of interrogation:
"It should be noted here that in the United States, if at any point during the interrogation, the suspect does somehow manage to ask for a lawyer or invoke his right to silence, the interrogation has to stop immediately. That's why it's so important to interrupt the suspect's attempts to speak in the initial stages - if he invokes his rights, the interrogation is over."
In short, it's best if you do not answer police questions without a criminal defense lawyer on your side to protect your rights and look out for your best interests.
Police interrogation techniques
If you take nothing else from this writing, let it be this: In most situations, it is perfectly legal for police to lie to suspects during an interrogation. They can say just about anything and get away with it.
They may lie about your DNA being at the crime scene or say your friends are blaming everything on you. They may make false promises like they'll go easy on you if you confess now. All of it could be made up. People who can spot underhanded interrogation techniques are better prepared to avoid making statements that could get them into trouble.
Here are some more techniques police use to manipulate confessions out of people.
- "Good cop/bad cop." Despite being a well-known police strategy, good cop/bad cop continues to be effective. This ploy involves two officers: one detective aggressively questions the suspect while the other pretends to be sympathetic. Because people tend to trust and talk to people who appear to be protecting them, this strategy encourages the suspect to confide in the "good" cop.
- Maximization. Police may try to frighten a suspect into talking by over-emphasizing the court-ordered and real-world penalties that come with a Texas criminal conviction. The terrible scenarios presented by police may be completely fabricated.
- "Reid's Nine Steps." This popular guide to psychological manipulation is widely used by police departments nationwide. Of course, there's a lot more that goes into it, but Reid's "steps" instruct officers to present a suspect with various scenarios of how a crime was committed, then use basic psychological manipulation to pressure scared and vulnerable people into confessing to one of the cop's proposed scenarios.
- Physical intimidation. Everything about an interrogation is set up to intimidate and rattle people into doing what the police want. For example, interrogation rooms are purposefully designed to be uncomfortable and create a sense of powerlessness. A stark room with three chairs and a desk "creates a sense of exposure, unfamiliarity, and isolation," according to the police chiefs association. Police can also use their bodies and movements to intimidate others. However, it is illegal for an officer to assault or harm someone during an interrogation.
A criminal defense attorney can protect your freedom.
If you are being questioned by Texas law enforcement, it is important to understand the deceptive tactics and strategies police use to squeeze out confessions. People who can spot these methods are better prepared to protect their freedom. If you have been charged with a crime or are wanted for questions by the police, contact The Webb Firm, P.C. for a free case consultation. A member of our team is available to hear from you any time, day or night.