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Many people believe that the police cannot lie to citizens. The truth is that police can and do lie to citizens, especially those do not know their rights.
Police will lie in order to get a confession or evidence to assist them in a conviction.
There are only a few laws which restrict police officers from telling blatant lies to people they arrest, meaning that any confession or even innocuous statement made to the police about a crime can be used against the defendant.
Police Do Not Have To Admit They Are Officers
Lots of people have heard the myth that if a police offer is asked if they are working undercover, they have to reveal their identity as an officer. That is not true, and it does not make sense.
Police have no obligation to give up their identity as an officer. If they did, it would ruin many undercover stings or busts and likely result in harm to several police officers.
Police Can Fabricate Evidence Against Defendant To Get Them To Confess
Police can claim to have evidence that does not exist. For example, police can say “we have your fingerprints all over the crime scene, you might as well confess.”
Even though it is not fair to lie about such things, it has been found to be constitutional.
The truth is, DNA and other evidence take a long time to process. Fingerprint samples, blood work, hair samples, and other evidence is not available immediately after the commission of the crime, and they are processed in laboratories, not at the police station.
By saying this, police hope they can get an innocent person to give a confession.
Not only can the police lie about evidence, they can create their own fake evidence too.
One famous case out of California involved police hooking up a suspect to a fake polygraph machine and interrogating him. After the interrogation, the police showed the suspect a fake chart and told him he failed the test.
After seeing the results, the suspect admitted to being at the scene of the crime. The court who heard these facts determined that police did not violate the law by tricking the suspect into believing he failed the test.
Polygraphs are not even admissible in court and participation should not be offered to police.
Being Open With The Police Is Not Helpful
Police will always tell suspects that if they cooperate and tell the truth, that the police will make sure they receive a light sentence. This is one of the biggest and most harmful lies police tell.
The police have nothing to do with sentencing; only the District Attorney in charge of the case can give a more lenient sentence. A confession will only ensure that the suspect is found guilty.
Even if a suspect is, for whatever reason, interested in sharing information with law enforcement, they should ONLY do so with their attorney and the prosecutor present since the police have no ability to make deals or give consideration for taking responsibility for anything.
Some tactics the police use to convince people to confess include saying that the suspect’s friend confessed to everything already, that the suspect’s friend or family member who accompanied them during the alleged crime will go to jail unless they confess, or that there is an eye witness who has already identified the suspect and placed them at the crime scene.
All of these tactics have been used multiple times by police, and they are all found to be legal.
Anything a suspect says to an officer, no matter what the reason or what they believe they are getting in exchange, will be used against them.
Are There Any Limits?
There are very few limits when it comes to police lying to citizens. It is easy for police to lie in order to get a confession and move on to the next case, and they are allowed to do so.
Police are required to give individuals “Miranda” rights prior to police questioning, however.
Miranda rights are a brief statement of a suspects rights to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the warning that any statements made may be used against them.
The court may also review tactics used by police to determine whether they produced a false confession, but this is not questioned very frequently.
Simply because the police use a little trickery to get information from you does not mean your confession is invalid.
Keep Silent And Call Marni Jo Snyder
If you are arrested or brought in for an interrogation, keep silent no matter what and tell police you want to have your attorney present. Then, contact the offices of Marni Jo Snyder at 215-515-3360.
Attorney Snyder’s extensive experience with police interrogations and knowledge of citizens’ rights will ensure that you are not tricked into saying something that will damage your case. Call today for your free consultation.