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 21, 2016 No Comments

If the Police Stop You on the Street, Do You Have to Talk to Them?

If the police stop you on the street, do you have to talk to them? This is a common question that many people have. There are many reasons as to why a police officer may approach you in public and begin talking to you. In most cases, he or she will be trying to gather information to solve a potential crime or identify a suspect. Rarely will a police officer approach a person to simply make “small talk,” even if it appears that way.

By understanding your rights when stopped in public by a police officer, you can make sure you’re not taken advantage of.

Exercising Your Right to Remain Silent

First and foremost, understand that under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, you always have the right to remain silent when speaking to a police officer. You’re never under any obligation to speak to an officer, let alone answer any questions.

Even if you haven’t committed a crime, it’s generally best to exercise your right to remain silent if you’re ever approached and questioned by an officer in public. You can do this by simply responding to the officer’s attempts at conversation with something along the lines of, “I wish to remain silent.” If he or she persists with trying to get you to talk, continue to express your right to remain silent.

What if You’re Asked for Identification?

While it’s true that you’re under no legal obligation to talk to a police officer, there are some cases where you may be legally required to provide identification to him or her. California is one of many states where you don’t need to require ID unless the officer:

  • has detained or arrested you
  • has pulled you over in your vehicle

Therefore, if an officer has randomly approached you in public and asks for identification, your first question should be, “am I being detained or am I free to go?” If you’re being detained (this means the officer has probable cause to believe you’ve committed a crime), then you will be required to show ID. Failure to do so could result in a criminal charge. Still, this doesn’t mean that you’re required to speak with the officer. Let him or her know where your ID is located or ask for permission to reach for it.

Asking for a Lawyer When Being Detained

If it turns out that you are being detained for any reason, again, this still doesn’t legally obligate you to answer any questions or speak with officers. In fact, now would be a good time to ask for a lawyer, since you’re going to be criminally charged and officers/detectives will likely attempt to further question you once they take you to jail for booking.

Even if an officer claims he or she can “cut you a break” if you answer some questions, elect to remain silent and let them know that you won’t speak without an attorney present. In reality, a police officer can’t cut you any breaks, as the charges you face are ultimately in the hands of the prosecutor working on your case–not the arresting officer.

By refusing to speak until an attorney is present, you can be sure that you’ll be well advised and protected when handling your case.

The Bottom Line

The most important thing to remember here is that you are never required to speak to a police officer–even if you’re being detained. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to show ID, but you don’t need to answer any questions. If you’re arrested, always ask for an attorney and don’t answer any questions until one is present.

For further assistance with protecting your rights during police encounters, contact us today.

Jamahl Kersey March 11, 2016 No Comments

How to Handle Questioning By the Police

The thoughts of being questioned by the police probably evoke, at the very least, a sense of anxiety and for some a feeling of dread. People are questioned for various reasons; they may or may not be the target of the investigation, but no matter the reason, it’s unnerving. Furthermore, how you handle police questioning will impact the outcome. So, just how should people respond to police questions? Let’s look at four fictional scenarios and the best way to handle each one.

Scenario 1: Jack

Jack had just left the local convenience store and now leaned comfortably against a tree at the city park. As he sipped a hot coffee and glanced at the paper he’d just purchased, a police officer approached him. The police officer smiled and mentioned the weather. Jack nodded, but felt uneasy when the officer lingered and continued with “small talk”. The policeman then asked Jack a more personal question — was he from around these parts? Jack decided not to answer any questions at all and said, “Am I free to go?”

Best way to handle

First of all, why did Jack ask if he was free to go? This is a relevant question, because when a police officer talks to you casually on the street, you are in no way obligated to carry on a conversation with him/her UNLESS the officer is detaining you (see definition below on detaining). Likely, police are gathering information about either 1) a recent crime, 2) a person you know who they are investigating, or 3) you! When you talk to the police under these conditions, anything you say is available for the police to use in a case.  Jack handled the situation right. By asking the officer if he was free to go, he was determining whether the police had reason to detain him.

Scenario 2: Esthela

Esthela was at home when the telephone rang. “Mrs. Condelez,” the voice said on the other end. At first, Esthela thought something was wrong with her son, Kent. He was 19 years old and had gotten into trouble lately hanging out with the wrong crowd. The person on the other end continued, “This is officer Brett and we would like you to come down to the station for a statement regarding your son”. Esthela thought this was a requirement and promptly met with the officer.

Best way to handle

When a police officer calls you at your residence requesting a statement, it’s because there’s an investigation and they need evidence, which they hope you will provide. If you comply, there’s a good chance you’ll be incriminating yourself or someone else. How can this happen? Your words can be taken out of context, turned around, or misunderstood; you may provide them with just the information they lack! Contacting an attorney immediately will protect you. Attorneys know the law and are experienced in dealing with legal matters.

Scenario 3: Jon

Jon was pulled over by two police officers on his way home from work and detained. The first police officer who approached his vehicle told him in a commanding voice to step out of the car with his hands in view. Jon carefully removed himself from the vehicle, making sure his hands were visible to the officers. After looking at his license and other necessary documents and seeing they were in order, the female officer asked how long he had owned the car. Jon opened his mouth to say he’d bought it just last week, but instead said these words, “I wish to remain silent.”

Best way to handle

Why did Jon feel the need to invoke what’s known as his Miranda rights? First, let’s look at the legal meaning of “detained by police”.

  • When police detain you, they stop you from moving and keep you in a place.
  • Police must have reasonable suspicion to detain you about a matter.
  • Police must use words, tone, or other means to indicate you are being detained.
  • While detained, police may pat you down for weapons.
  • Police may search your vehicle IF they have reasonable suspicion of finding something. They may ASK if they can search your vehicle but may search it even if you don’t give consent.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a person being detained should expect to be allowed to go in approximately 20 minutes.
  • Often the detention leads to an arrest if officers find evidence.

Now, back to the scenario with Jon — he was obviously being detained. It is best not to answer any questions in these situations, because as you prolong the detention time by talking, one wrong thing said can lead to an arrest.

Scenario 4: Brent

Brent was arrested for possession of a controlled substance. During the process, police officers began to ask questions about the situation. At first, Brent didn’t say anything, but then the policeman said if he cooperated and told his side of the story, the police could get him a better “deal”. Brent was in a dilemma, not sure what to do.

Best way to handle:

An arrest is serious. You definitely don’t want to speak to police without your rights protected. Even if you think the police are going to give you a better deal if you talk, that’s usually not the case. Police don’t negotiate; prosecuting attorneys negotiate with your defense attorney – that’s why you need to contact an attorney right away. Tell the officers, “I want to remain silent”, then request to call an attorney. Remember, if you speak to the police, it will be used against you in court.

Being questioned by the police can be intimidating, frightening, and confusing. Without an attorney by your side to speak for you, you are vulnerable and open to risk. If you would like to discuss this topic further or any other legal issue, please contact us today!