Boston, MA criminal defense attorney Kevin J. Mahoney discusses how police lie to obtain evidence
Police lie to suspects, and they do so routinely. And, they have a legal right to do so. In Frazier v. Cupp, 394 U.S. 731, 739 (1969), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that officers may lie to suspects in order to induce them into confessing. To justify this blatant manipulation, courts assume that an innocent person would not admit to a crime he did not commit.
Examples of Police Officer Manipulations
There are many interrogation tactics that detectives use to secure confessions. For example, an officer may tell a suspect that the victim of an attack is alive and responding well to treatment, when in fact the victim died. By misleading the suspect into believing that he is confessing only to an assault charge, the police secure sufficient evidence to charge him with murder.
An officer may also tell the suspect that his alleged accomplice has already confessed to the crime, including a detailed description of the suspect’s involvement. The officer informs the suspect that only by admitting his own involvement can he earn a lighter prison sentence. That the accomplice did not confess is irrelevant; courts will deem confession admissible at trial.
Officers and detectives often manipulate suspects into confessing by misinforming them of their rights or the consequences for failing to confess. For instance, the officer may say, “You know, you’re leaving me with no choice, if you won’t give me your side, I won’t have any reason to doubt what I’ve been told about you,” implying that he will arrest the suspect if he refuses to answer his questions. Often times, the officer has already decided to charge the suspect, and is using the threat of arrest to prod him into making statements that will confirm his involvement.
Who Is Really Hurt by Lying?
If we want the police to solve crimes, why would we want to preclude them from enticing suspects into confessing? While it may be difficult for many people to fully appreciate, experienced detectives can use threats and lies to frighten innocent men, women, and juveniles into confessing. And a confession is so powerful in the hands of a prosecutor that conviction is all but certain.
Call Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Kevin J. Mahoney
If you are facing criminal charges, contact us at 617-492-0055 to schedule a free in-office consultation.
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