Sometimes, Police Lie To Get What They Want – And They Are Free To Do So
All too often, in their efforts to get the truth about an alleged crime – or coerce a confession or admission – police lie to suspects and others who they subject to interrogation. Having police lie or manipulate the truth while questioning a suspect may seem unfair and unethical. But the reality is that Colorado Springs law enforcement officers are not legally required to tell the truth during an interrogation – far from it.
Lying is just one abusive way that interrogators attempt to elicit information while questioning a suspect. When police lie during interrogations and engage in other harsh tactics, it often results in forced or coerced confessions by individuals who want their ordeal to end.
To prevent such treatment and to avoid saying something that may neither be true nor helpful to your case, you should exercise your Miranda Rights at the time of your arrest. Remain silent and ask to speak with an experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer immediately when police start questioning you.
Abusive – But Permissible – Police Interrogation Tactics Include Lying
During questioning, police can use many different techniques to get the answers they want from a suspect. The “Reid Technique,” better known as the “good cop/bad cop” routine, is a common practice. Many interrogation methods include deceptive conduct that one would think unacceptable but is, in fact, allowable, even though it can and does lead to coerced confessions that could be admissible at trial.
For example, police lies can include:
- Making false statements about:
- What others have told them, such as lying about a confession made by another suspect
- Finding the subject’s fingerprints, DNA, or other incriminating evidence at the scene;
- Making promises to elicit a confession, such as saying that they will tell prosecutors that you’ve been cooperative;
- Being friendly and seemingly sympathetic to you – the “good cop” may try to be conversational and understanding to get you to open up and talk. Do not be fooled into thinking this is anything other than an effort to get you to make admissions that could help them convict you.
These legal tactics frequently result in false, coerced, or involuntary confessions, especially for juveniles. Young minds are vulnerable, impressionable, suggestible to authority figures, and more likely to value short-term gain over long-term consequences. Because of this, there is an increased rate of false or coerced confessions among juveniles.
That is why some states have passed legislation to bar police from lying to juvenile suspects. Such a proposed law was introduced in Colorado in 2022, but the state’s House of Representatives ultimately killed the bill. This means that police lies while questioning minors (and everyone else) can continue. Fortunately, there are limits to what investigators can do during interrogation.
How Far Is Too Far?
Colorado courts will sometimes look at police conduct during interrogation, including their use of lies and deception, to determine whether a statement or confession should be thrown out and deemed inadmissible. This conclusion is a very fact-intensive and case-by-case determination. Still, some factors the court may consider when deciding whether police questioning went too far and statements made by suspects should be deemed inadmissible include whether or not officers:
- Beat, physically harmed, or threatened to harm the suspect to get a confession;
- Threatened the suspect with a harsher sentence or the death penalty;
- Failed to advise the suspect of their Miranda rights;
- Threatened to arrest or jail the suspect’s family members or made threats regarding the welfare of the suspect’s children;
- Made any promises of leniency or reduced sentence, whether express or implied;
- Repeatedly denied the suspect their right to counsel and to remain silent during the interrogation;
- Isolated the suspect and/or wore the suspect down through deprivation of sleep, water, food and/or toilet facilities;
- Conducted an unrelenting and unduly lengthy interrogation.
Remember Your Miranda Rights – Remain Silent and Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Don’t fall for police lies during interrogation. Take advantage of your Miranda rights to remain silent and hire a Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The best criminal defense attorneys have experience as former El Paso County prosecutors and know the deceptive tactics that police and prosecutors can use to manipulate you to incriminate yourself.