Jamahl Kersey May 13, 2016 No Comments

Common Tactics Police Use to Get Confessions From Suspects

You’ve probably seen old movies of people being tortured so that they’ll confess to crimes they may have committed. In the past, suspects of crimes had to undergo third-degree abuse by being deprived of water, food and sleep in an effort to get them to confess. But today, instead of using these harsh techniques, more sophisticated methods are used.

Getting people to confess to the police about crimes they’ve committed is not easy. To obtain confessions, police officers use a combination of different techniques. Here are some of the main tactics police officers use to get confessions from suspects. 

The Reid Method of Interrogation

A popular method known as the Reid technique is often used in making people confess to crimes. This tactic, which is the most widely used interrogation method, entails questioning suspects for evaluating their credibility. Instead of using a question-and-answer format, the interrogator speaks compassionately in an effort to make a suspect more at ease so that it’s more likely he or she will tell the truth.

To do this, the interrogator tries to present reasons for why a crime may have been committed. In other words, interrogators try to put themselves in the shoes of suspects. The Reid technique is designed to build rapport with suspects. The interrogator is specially trained to observe a suspect’s body language in detecting signs of anxiety and lying. Nine steps are involved in this technique, although many of these steps overlap.

The Reid technique is often effective in getting information on a crime for suspects who probably would have been unwilling to be truthful. On the other hand, some critics of this tactic contend that it can lead to innocent people giving false confessions.

The PEACE Method

An increasing number of police officers, in countries such as Denmark, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, use a relatively new tactic called “The PEACE method.” This procedure involves gathering a lot off information, rather than simply getting confessions from suspects. The letters in “PEACE” stand for preparation and planning; engage and explain; account; closure and evaluate. It’s similar to a journalistic method, yet it’s extremely straightforward.

The method works on the assumption that the more untruths that suspects tell, the harder it is for them to remember what they’ve said. It’s based on the idea that just a single conflicting detail will eventually destroy a liar’s entire web of fabrications.

Misconception

Can police officers ever lie? That’s what many people still believe, but this is an old urban myth. In fact, lying is another technique that’s used in getting confessions from suspects. Actually, there isn’t any law that says that police officers are restricted to always telling nothing but the truth.

Considerations and Warnings

  • There are some groups of people who are more at risk for making false confessions. These include mentally challenged individuals, juveniles and children.
  • Law enforcement officers are not allowed to make threats to suspects, such as threatening to forbid them to see their family if they don’t confess. Furthermore, police cannot say that if a suspect confesses, he or she will be charged with a less severe crime.
  • Whenever officers interact with people, informal questioning can take place. For example, let’s say you’re stopped by a police officer, and you’re unsure of the reason why. Always assume that you may be suspected of committing an offense.
  • When officers question suspects at police stations, they typically use the Reid technique.
  • If you’ve been charged with or accused of a crime, you should never offer a statement to the police if there’s no attorney present with you. You don’t want to say anything that might incriminate you later.
  • Simply state that you don’t want to give a statement, and that you’re using your right to remain silence. Additionally, request a criminal defense lawyer.

A qualified and highly experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you in determining if you need to say anything at all. If speaking with law enforcement is necessary, your lawyer can advice you on what to say, as well as investigate your case. Don’t hesitate to contact us and learn more about our wide range of legal services.

Jamahl Kersey April 28, 2016 No Comments

What to Do if You Missed a Court Date or Have a Bench Warrant

When you’re scheduled to appear in court–whether it’s for something as minor as a traffic violation that you’re fighting or something as major as a felony charge–it’s imperative that you show up on your court date. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to forget about a court date or face extenuating circumstances that prevent them from attending. If this is a situation that you’re currently in, then you might be wondering, “what do I do if I missed a court date or have a bench warrant?

What is a Bench Warrant?

If you’ve already missed your court date, there’s a good chance that the judge as issued what’s known as a bench warrant. When you have a bench warrant, this means that police officers are legally able to arrest you and hold you in jail until you take care of your missed court appearance. A bench warrant is similar to a traditional arrest warrant with the exception that bench warrants are almost explicitly issued as a result of a missed court appearance.

Simply put, if you missed your court date and now have a bench warrant out, the next time you get pulled over or have any other police encounter, there’s a good chance you’ll be going to jail.

Potential Consequences of Missing a Court Date

Nothing good typically comes out of missing a court date. At the very least, you will have a bench warrant issued for your arrest. However, there are a number of other circumstances you could face as a result.

For starters, failure to appear in court can result in the addition of more charges and fines. You may also be required to pay a higher bond or forfeit any bond you posted to get out of jail in the first place. In serious circumstances, your ability to post bond could be revoked entirely and you could be forced to stay in jail until your case in heard in court.

In some states, your driver’s license can even be suspended or revoked upon failing to appear in court.

The Importance of Acting Quickly

If you’ve missed a scheduled court date for any reason, it’s imperative that you act quickly in getting the situation taken care of. Don’t wait until the next time you’re pulled over when you may be on your way to work or even have children in the car. Instead, be proactive in taking care of your bench warrant and the judge will likely be more understanding than if you were to ignore the situation altogether.

In most cases, you can call your local court office and arrange to have the matter taken care of. This may mean scheduling a time to come in a pay your bail so as to avoid being arrested again and have your warrant recalled.

Why Hire an Attorney?

Before you call the court, however, it’s a good idea to begin working with a reputable defense attorney. With the proper legal guidance, you may be able to appear directly at an arrangement as opposed to being arrested on your bench warrant. Furthermore, an experienced attorney may be able to get an arraignment scheduled right away, rather than you having to be arrested and wait for another trial. Of course, this can all vary greatly on a case-to-case basis.

Missing a court date is never beneficial, but what’s done is done. Your next step is being proactive in getting the situation handled properly. For assistance with taking care of your bench warrant for a missed court date, please contact us today. Our hard-working and experienced attorneys are here to help.

Jamahl Kersey April 8, 2016 No Comments

What Happens During a Jail Booking?

If you’ve never been arrested, you may not understand what occurs after a person has been arrested for a crime. Suspects aren’t just thrown into jail immediately after they’ve been arrested. Before people who are arrested for crimes are placed in jail cells, several procedures have to occur. Here are the steps involved in what happens during a jail booking.

Processing Paperwork

The first step, which is also known as a “processing”, involves processing paperwork. This involves recording a suspect’s personal information, including a full name, date of birth (DOB), his or her of employment, address, social security number and medical data. While this used to be done manually, most booking records today are computerized.

Mug Shots

Next, photos or “mug shots” are taken of a suspect or defendant. These photos are used to physically document defendants at the time when they’re arrested. Photos also are useful in showing the physical condition of defendants. This is important because these photos can show proof of if a defendant was in a physical altercation prior to the arrest.

Also, mug shots are used for protection against mistaken identity. For example, sometimes there are people in jail who have identical names. Several mug shots are taken of each defendant. After the mug shots are taken, they’re printed out and then used for various purposes, including name tag identification, cell tags and files.

Fingerprinting

Suspects are fingerprinted, and the fingerprints are entered into a federal database. This is needed for identifying prisoners, as well as for comparing crime scene evidence. Even suspects with prior arrests, who already have their fingerprints on file, have be fingerprinted. Information on suspects is checked for criminal backgrounds against a nationwide database to see if there have been other histories of arrests.

Full-Body Search and Personal Property Confiscation

Suspects must undergo full-body searches to ensure that they aren’t bringing any smuggled goods or weapons with them into jail. Also called a “strip search,” a full-body search is extremely humiliating but is necessary. However, they’re done by jail employees who are of the same sex as the suspect. 

Personal property confiscation is the next step. This entails taking away car keys, wallets and other personal items. Prisoners don’t get back their personal belongings until they’re released from jail.

Considerations and Cautions

  • How long does a booking take? The slowest bookings can entail hours. The length of time it takes for a booking procedure can depend on several factors, such as how many police officers are working and the number of people have been arrested during the same time period.
  • Suspects must have health screenings to protect other prisoners and the prison staff. This involves taking blood test for checking for communicable diseases as AIDS and gonorrhea. X-rays, for detecting tuberculosis, are also done before prisoners can associate with the general prison population.
  • Shoe laces and belts may be removed for suspects who are considered to be self-destructive or a threat to others.
  • Even suspects arrested for seemingly minor crimes, such as unpaid traffic tickets, may have to go through full-body strip searches.
  • Bail hearings are also conducted to decide if a suspect can be released while awaiting his or her pending trail. They’re also done to set the amount of bail. After bail has been posted, by either a bail bond agent or the defendant, the suspect is released.
  • Suspects who have pending arrest warrants generally aren’t released on bail.

It’s only until the police begin questioning suspects, regarding what occurred at arrest scenes, or when they’ve been placed in a lineup with other defendants, that a criminal defense lawyer is needed. At this time, it’s important that they consult a qualified criminal defense attorney and not take part in answering any more questions. If you, or someone you know, has been arrested and needs help, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Jamahl Kersey March 24, 2016 No Comments

When Can the Police Search My Car? Understanding Your Rights During a Traffic Stop

Most people have been pulled over by the police at least once in their lives. In many cases, a traffic stop simply ends with a warning or a citation–but in some situations, a traffic stop could very well lead to an arrest. Regardless of whether you believe you’ve done anything wrong or not, there are some basic things you’ll want to keep in mind when you’ll pulled over by the police. For example, many people wonder, “when can the police search my car?

A Note About Traffic Stops

First of all, understand that traffic stops are the single most dangerous aspect of any police officer’s job. More police officers are injured and killed during traffic stops than in any other call, so it’s important that you take steps to show the officer that you’re not a threat.

Upon realizing you’re being pulled over, turn on your hazard lights and pull off to the side of the road immediately. If it’s dark out, turn on your vehicle dome light so the officer can see who’s in the car. Then, wait for the officer to approach before reaching for your driver’s license, registration, or anything else. Making sudden movements could lead the officer to believe you’re a threat.

Warrants Versus Probable Cause

It’s also helpful here to understand the difference between a search warrant and having probable cause. Contrary to what many misinformed citizens believe, a police officer doesn’t need a search warrant to search your car; this only applies to stationary property (such as your house).

Instead, an officer only needs probable cause to search your car. In other words, if the officer has even a small amount of evidence (not just a hunch) that you’ve committed a crime, he or she is legally allowed to conduct the search.

What Constitutes Probable Cause in a Traffic Stop?

During a traffic stop, there are numerous things that could constitute probable cause. If the officer smells alcohol coming from your vehicle, he or she may have probable cause to suspect that you’re drinking while driving, just the same as the smell of marijuana coming from the car may give an officer probable cause to believe you’ve been using illegal substances.

Verbally Refusing Your Consent to Search

If an officer has probable cause to search your vehicle, you’ll likely still be asked for your consent. You have every right to refuse consent for any reason, but keep in mind that this won’t stop the officer from searching the car if he or she has probable cause.

Unfortunately, even in situations where an officer doesn’t have probable cause, many unsuspecting drivers are led to believe they have no choice but to consent to the search. Instead of asking for consent to search, the officers might say something along the lines of, “if you haven’t done anything wrong, then you won’t mind if we search your vehicle, right?”

Exercising Your Right to Remain Silent

If an officer searches your vehicle, regardless of whether you have something to hide or not, remember that you can exercise your right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment. In fact, it’s recommended that you elect not to answer any questions (especially if you’re being detained) and that you request a lawyer before speaking to police officers. After all, anything you say can and will be used against you.

Getting pulled over and asked for consent to search your car can be an intimidating and unsettling experience for anybody. If you’re in need of legal guidance following a traffic stop, feel free to contact us today. Our team would be happy to assist you.

Jamahl Kersey March 22, 2016 No Comments

Arrests: Your Rights and the Law Is Something Everyone Should Know

Arrests: Your Rights and the Law  is something every person should know. Every American citizen has the same rights regardless of the crime committed. If you are ever arrested and charged with a criminal offense, there are several amendments to the U.S. Constitution that will protect your rights. These amendments are part of what make up the Bill of Rights which came about because of abuses before and during the American Revolution.

The amendments pertaining to your basic rights as an American citizen are the Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Sixth Amendment, Eighth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment

This Amendment has to do with probable cause. It protects you from unwarranted search and seizure of your property and your person, and from being arrested without probable cause. The police or prosecutor must show enough information that a crime took place in order to obtain a search and seizure warrant or make an arrest without a warrant.

The Fifth Amendment

This gives you the right to remain silent during any questioning by the police thus protecting you against self-incrimination. It does not allow double jeopardy, which means facing trial  twice for the same crime. If you are found not guilty in a criminal case, the prosecution cannot overturn the acquittal and try the same case again to get a more favorable result. There is a loophole with double jeopardy. If the crime committed breaks both state and federal law, you will go to  trial once in state court and again in federal court. Although this is possible it is highly unlikely, and is very rare when it happens. The government must  also give you due process of the law by obeying its own laws and fairly using the same laws for the people of this country.

The Sixth Amendment

This gives you the right to a speedy trial and have an attorney represent you in a court of law. It also gives you the right to call witnesses and cross-examine the prosecutor’s witnesses.

The Eighth Amendment

This protects you against cruel and unusual punishment which the state government determines.

The Fourteenth Amendment

This gives all people equal protection under the law. The government cannot discriminate against anyone for anything. Every defendant has the same rights regardless of the crime committed.

So there you have it, those are your basic rights if you get arrested. The Miranda Warning sums it up by saying ” You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one is appointed for you at the government’s expense.”

An arrest can occur without the Miranda Warning, but during questioning is a different matter. Its’ purpose is to protect you against self-incrimination only and will not protect you against getting arrested.

It is important you know your legal rights during an arrest, because mistakes happen and it is possible for the police to violate your rights. It doesn’t occur often but it does happen. It will greatly help your case if you can recognize a violation when it takes place.  Your attorney can explain in more detail about your rights when an arrest occurs, and remember, your attorney is there to protect your rights and ensure you get a fair trial so speak freely without reservation.

It is in your best interest to contact us if you have questions or need more information concerning your rights including your rights if charged with domestic violence.