Cop Strategies That Can Lead to False Confessions

Criminals don’t always come clean about their misdeeds and wrongdoings, which is why law enforcement agents have developed various techniques to get them to speak up. There are many instances of these tactics backfiring, resulting in innocent persons wrongfully admitting to a crime they didn’t commit. It sounds weird, but even the toughest people break down during those police interviews. Below are five cop strategies that can cause you to confess to a crime you didn’t commit.

1. The Reid Technique

The Reid technique is the classic good cop, bad cop schtick. You know, where the bad cop will be grilling a suspect for answers, then the good cop will pretend to be all sympathetic, claiming they understand the suspect’s situation and that it’s best if they just confess. It doesn’t help that this is usually done in small, tight rooms, with two complete strangers. The entire ordeal is really stressful, especially for people who were wrongfully arrested. A 16-year-old girl was charged due to this technique after she caved into the pressure and confessed guilty.

2. Saying That Refusal To Cooperate Will Damage Your Case

It’s not the police’s job to be concerned about how your case will turn out and whether or not you’ll receive a lighter sentencing if you simply played along. That’s what the Defense Attorney’s for. If anything, it’s within your rights to withhold from answering any questions you don’t want to, especially if your lawyer’s not present. Instead, the police will try to convince suspects that confessing will lead to a lighter sentencing. But those who know better will remain tight-lipped!

3. Tell You That You’re Not Being Interrogated

When you are being detained, the police are required to read you the Miranda rights but they don’t always arrest you immediately. To get a suspect to incriminate himself, the officer would use phrases like “This is just a friendly conversation” or “You’re not under arrest, I just want to ask some questions.” Note that this is just the beginning of their tactic. This leads suspects to believe that they can talk themselves out of a situation, but they’re only digging themselves into a deeper hole. As mentioned earlier, it’s best to have these kinds of conversations with your lawyer around.

4. Lie About Having Eyewitnesses

Sometimes to get a suspect to speak up, the police may tell them that an eyewitness spotted them at the scene of the crime. This too is another white lie that they are pretty much allowed to tell. One example is the People v. Dominik (1986) who, after being told that the victim identified him as her attacker, confessed to the crime, even though he was innocent. Not only this, but eyewitnesses aren’t even reliable most of the time. They often change their description of the suspect, or select the wrong person in a lineup.

5. Fake Test Results

Another really common dirty trick that cops rely on is to claim that the suspect failed a polygraph test, or any other test for that matter. Some might go as far as dressing up as a civilian polygraph expert and use a fake machine with fake results in order to coerce the suspect into giving a confession. They’ll even fake tests regarding illegal substances, hoping that the person being interrogated will show their true “colors.” Sadly, innocent people get really nervous in these situations and mess up their words, incriminating themselves in the process.

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