Do you know your rights if you get stopped by the police? What if a police officer knocks on your door? For most people, the idea of being questioned by a cop is intimidating and even a little scary.
If you don’t know what to say, along with what not to say, you could end up incriminating yourself. In fact, police officers are trained to get people to do just that.
While many people believe that the police aren’t allowed to lure people into making potentially incriminating statements, this is incorrect.
Police officers are trained in interrogation techniques, and they can and will use these tactics to get you to say things that might not necessarily be in your best interest.
4 Police Interrogation Techniques
When police interview or interrogate a criminal suspect, they have one goal in mind which is getting that person to confess involvement in a crime.
Depending on the circumstances, the police might resort to a number of interrogation techniques in an effort to draw a confession from someone they’re interviewing.
There are more than four police interrogation techniques, but these four are some of the most common according to Dallas criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of Broden & Mickelsen.
In some cases, police will grill a suspect by aggressively peppering them with questions or making threats. This kind of “third-degree” type of questioning might look similar to the interrogation methods police use in crime movies and police dramas.
While police today may still use threats and intimidation to interrogate someone, they have to be careful with an aggressive approach to interviewing, as it’s quite easy for a criminal defense lawyer to challenge a confession that has been coerced by the police.
For example, if the police refuse to allow a suspect to use the restroom or obtain food or hydration, the court might throw out the confession as being the product of coercion. In recent years, many police departments have moved away from traditional interrogation tactics that rely on suspect intimidation.
The Reid Technique
Named after the police officer who developed it, the Reid Technique encourages officers to build a good relationship with the suspect and then ask questions. As the officer asks questions, he or she is trained to watch how the responder acts while they provide an answer.
The idea behind the Reid Technique is that people make certain body movements and gestures when they’re anxious. For example, a person might sweat or fidget unconsciously.
However, most people are nervous when they’re being questioned by the police, and they may act out of character by mumbling, stuttering or seeming evasive. Conversely, some people are so good at lying that they can do it without giving any noticeable signs.
Good Cop, Bad Cop
In some cases, a pair of officers will team up, with one acting as the more aggressive interrogator and the other taking on the role of a friend. After the aggressive and intimidating officer leaves the room, the “friendly” officer will enter the room and attempt to make the suspect feel calm and supported.
The “good cop” may even encourage the suspect to tell their side of the story. This illusion can seem like a good way to clear up misunderstandings, but the officer’s purpose usually has nothing to do with allowing a suspect to set the record straight.
In reality, the friendly officer is simply attempting to coax the suspect into letting their guard down. After dealing with the aggressive officer, the suspect may be so relieved to speak with a kinder, more empathetic interrogator that they admit to being involved in a crime.
It may be difficult for people to believe, but individuals have even confessed to crimes they didn’t actually commit. According to the Innocence Project, 1 out of 4 people falsely convicted of a crime and later exonerated through DNA evidence admitted to carrying out the crime during a police interrogation.
The PEACE Method
The PEACE Method stands for preparation and planning, engage and explain, account, closure, and evaluate. Developed by a team of police officers and psychologists, it takes more of a fact-gathering approach to interrogation.
Rather than being accusatory or abrasive toward the suspect, the PEACE Method aims to obtain as much information as possible and then assess whether the suspect is being factual based on what the police already know about the case.
Your Right Against Self Incrimination
No matter which interrogation method the police use, you have a right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. This amendment means you can stay silent if the police ask you questions.
If the police question you, it’s important to be polite but firm about your desire to invoke your Fifth Amendment rights, including your right to have a lawyer present during police questioning. Aside from giving basic information, such as your name, date of birth, and address, you have no legal obligation to offer up information to the police.
If you are need of the best criminal defense lawyers in Dallas, you should call the attorneys at the Law Office of Broden & Mickelsen as soon as possible.
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Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case.