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How the Police Get People to Incriminate Themselves

Published: Aug 30, 2019 in Criminal Defense

The use of torture and coercion to obtain confessions from suspects is unlawful. But the police may use every other possible means to get people to incriminate themselves. Law enforcement is allowed to lie to and intimidate suspects, which yields results similar to physical torture. As such, suspects often self-incriminate themselves and confess to crimes that they did not commit. The high rate of false confessions from some American interrogation techniques such as the Reid method has even led to their abolition in several European countries – including Germany.

This is yet another reason why you should never talk to the police in the context of a criminal investigation. The police can manipulate you into making an unknowing confession to a crime, even if they have told you that you are not a suspect. The best course of action to take if the police want to talk to you is to call an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer.

To schedule a free consultation with a skilled attorney at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett, call (713) 222-6767 today, or reach out through the online form.

The Police May Legally Lie and Intimidate You

Law enforcement’s primary job is to maintain public safety and order. But they are also tasked with collecting evidence for prosecutors, and when they take on this role, they do not necessarily act in the public’s best interests – especially when it comes to extracting confessions from criminal suspects. Some of the questionable methods they use include:

One of the biggest myths about the criminal justice system is that the police cannot lie to you. In fact, the police use deception all the time, and courts usually approve of these methods. For example, the police can falsely claim that they have evidence against you. They may even put you in a cell with an informant who may strike up a conversation to trick you into revealing your involvement in a crime. Once you are in police custody, you cannot trust anyone.

The line between intimidation and coercion (which is illegal) is not always clear. But what is clear is that the police often use threats to get people to incriminate themselves. As a general rule, the police cannot threaten physical violence against you. But they can threaten the possibility of imprisonment, being separated from your family, and losing your reputation to get you to cooperate.

Reid Technique
Named after professional interrogator John Reid, this technique is extremely effective in getting people to confess to crimes, including those that they did not commit. The technique relies on psychological manipulation to push the suspect past their emotional limits. Young people, non-native speakers, and those with disabilities are especially vulnerable to the Reid method.

Good Cop/Bad Cop
This is perhaps the best known and most easily recognizable interrogation technique. One interrogator takes an aggressive approach to the suspect before another, friendlier interrogator takes over. In some cases, this causes the suspect to open up to the good cop.

PEACE Method
PEACE stands for Preparation and Planning, Engage and Explain, Account, Closure, and Evaluate, and it’s a system developed in England as an alternative to the Reid technique. When following this method, the police take an honest, open, and professional stance towards the suspect instead of trying to manipulate them. The primary goal is to get a complete record of the suspect’s version of events with minimal interruptions or influence from the interviewer.

The United States Constitution guarantees your right to remain silent, which you should always exercise when confronted with the police. You may never know for sure if you are considered as a suspect, so it’s better to err on the side of caution. Furthermore, law enforcement is obligated to inform you of your right to remain silent and to retain a lawyer after they arrest you. If they fail to give you this information and begin questioning you, a court may consider their interrogation to be coercive and therefore illegal.

A Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Protect Your Rights

The best thing you can do for your case is to exercise your right to remain silent and to call a lawyer. Your efforts to talk your way out of trouble will probably not succeed, and will likely hurt your case. What you need is an aggressive advocate to step in at the early stages of the criminal justice process, which will give your case the best chances of a positive resolution. If you have been arrested, accused of a crime, or called in for police questioning, call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett now at (713) 222-6767, or reach out through the online form for a free case evaluation.