Can the police lie to you to get you to confess?

In past blogs, I have made it very clear that you should never speak to the police when you are being accused of a crime, especially if you are innocent.  One of the reasons is, you cannot trust what the police are saying and what evidence you are being presented with during the interrogation.  Sometimes the police will lie to you, and tell you that they have evidence they do not have.  But can the police really lie to you and get away with it?  The short answer is yes they can in most cases.

There are many ways a police officer may use deception to coerce a confession from a suspect.  Sometimes the officer will display false sympathy for the suspect, or lie and say he has incriminating evidence that he does not have, or falsely claim that a co-defendant has already implicated the suspect in the crime.

Once a defendant has been placed in custody, any confession that a defendant makes must be preceded by a voluntary, knowing, intelligent waiver of the defendant’s privilege against self-incrimination and the right to counsel.  In other words, if you are arrested by the police, the police must get you to give up your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney before they get you to confess.

After you have waived your rights, the confession must still be a voluntary confession.  Whether a confession is voluntary or not is based on the “totality of the circumstances”.  The Courts have held that a police officer lying to induce a confession, in and of itself, does not result in an “involuntary confession”.  However, they have said that it is one of the many factors when looking at the “totality of the circumstances”, whether the confession was voluntary.  In other words, if there are many other things the police officer did to force a confession, including lying to the defendant, then the Court may decide that the confession was involuntary, and not allow the confession to be presented to the jury, but lying alone will not cause the court to suppress the confession.

Courts generally disfavor a police officer making false promises to the suspect to induce a confession, especially where the police promise to dismiss or reduce charges in exchange for a confession.  Police officers know this, and usually make more vague promises to the suspect, like promising to bring the suspect’s cooperation to the attention of the prosecutor, and how it will be better for them to confess.  These vague promises do not receive the same scrutiny as the express promise to dismiss a case in exchange for a confession.  Consequently, police commonly make these vague promises to extract a confession.

As I have said so many times before, it is best to exercise your right to remain silent to begin with, so as not to get caught in these traps.

 

 

 

Arrested and Not Read My Rights!

rights…The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he/she has the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says will be used against that person in court; the person must be clearly informed that he/she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if he/she is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent him/her.
United States Supreme Court,  Miranda v. Arizona

Hollywood has done both a service and disservice in raising awareness of what have come to be known as the Miranda Warnings.  Miranda warnings are the rights you are commonly read when arrested by the police.  In the movies and television shows, the police always read off a memorized statement of rights to the suspect they are hand cuffing before they throw him into the back of their car.  These movies have been a service to the public at large in that they make people aware that they indeed have these rights, and these rights must be read to them.  It has done a disservice to the public in that the movies and television shows do not explain when your rights must be read to you, and what the consequences are when they do not read them to you.  The movies and television shows make it look like your rights must be read to you whenever you are taken into custody, but that is not the case.

The reason that law enforcement is required to read the ‘Miranda Warnings’ is because historically the public has been unaware of exactly what their rights are.  If you do not know what your rights are, then obviously it is going to make it a little difficult to exercise those rights.

The truth about Miranda Warnings is, they do not have to be read to a suspect that is simply being arrested.  The warning has to be read to a suspect before he is questioned while in custody.  The reason police will sometimes read a suspect his rights when he is arrested is so that anything he says after he is arrested will be clearly admissible in court.  For example, after a suspect is arrested and placed in the police car, the officer may casually ask the suspect questions on the way to the jail.  The suspect may answer those questions.  If those questions have any relevance to a crime, the suspect may have a basis to suppress those statements at trial as a violation of his constitutional rights.  So some police agencies just read the rights to every individual suspect they arrest.  Many agencies do not.

There really are no ‘Miranda Rights’, there are only constitutional rights.  What we call ‘Miranda Rights’ are actually just a group of constitutional rights related to criminal law.  The Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution grant a defendant a right against self incrimination, and a right to an attorney during every stage of a criminal prosecution.

If a suspect is questioned by the police, while in custody, and hasn’t been read his rights, the statements the suspect makes to the police can be suppressed by a court for a violation of the Defendant’s constitutional rights.  But if the police simply never read the suspect his rights, and never question him while in custody, then there is no violation of his rights, and consequently no remedy.

 

Never speak to the police! My first video blog.

I’ve graduated from just regular blogging to full blown video blogging!  From time to time when I get a chance I’ll try to do more of these legal video blogs.  Check in this week as I answer questions related to speaking to the police when you’ve been accused of a crime, a suspect in a crime, or even a person of interest in a crime.  Spoiler alert. . . my answer is, you really should never speak to the police if you are being accused of a crime, especially without a lawyer present.  Watch the video though because I go through all the reasons why you should  never speak to the police, and how it could really hurt someone’s case who has been accused of a crime.

Mother of missing Kansas City baby failed polygraph. Did she lie?

 

It appears from the headlines today that Deborah Bradley, the mother of the missing 10 month old girl that disappeared from her crib in Kansas City, has failed a polygraph that was administered by the Kansas City Police.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a polygraph is, a polygraph is a test given to an individual while asking them a series of questions. During the test the physiological reactions to the asked questions are measured, and a “trained professional” determines by the results whether the individual is being truthful or not. Typically the examiner will be able to conclude whether the individual is being deceptive, truthful, or the test will be inconclusive. In other words, a polygraph is what is known as a “lie detector test.” Continue reading

I’m being investigated for criminal charges, should I speak to the police?

police interrogation

*Update:  I’ve done a video blog on this topic.  Watch it here.  http://craigatkinsonlaw.com/uncategorized/neverspeaktopolice/ *

For those of my clients who are prudent enough to hire a criminal defense attorney after they have been accused of a crime, but before they are formally charged with a crime, one of the first questions they have for me is, “should I speak to the detective?” Continue reading