An arrest can be a scary thing, whether it is your first or your hundredth. That is because, as an arrestee, you feel like you have no control at all. But nothing could be further from the truth! The central thing you need to remember is that you have the right to remain silent. That gives you all the control you need.
When police are doing their jobs correctly, they must inform you of your Miranda rights:
- The right to remain silent;
- The fact that your comments can be used against you in court;
- Your right to an attorney;
- The responsibility of the court to appoint an attorney if you cannot pay for one yourself.
Nonetheless, there will be tremendous pressure to talk about the crime in question, and even to confess. Don’t. Ask to speak to your attorney and say nothing more. Be aware that your interrogation is not just a simple question and answer session; police have been trained to extract information, and they use several extremely powerful psychological strategies to get what they want. One of these strategies is deception.
Limits to Lying
Law enforcement is allowed to misrepresent what they know about a crime and can make assertions that seem to make you look guilty, even if they are not true. They cannot lie specifically about your legal rights, but they can twist, and even invent “facts.” For instance, they could falsely claim that an accomplice has already given you up. Perhaps they will say they found your fingerprints at the crime scene. There is one line they cannot cross: any statements you make must be voluntary. In other words, legally, they cannot threaten you, physically intimidate you, or otherwise force you to speak to them without the presence of your attorney. If the “totality of the circumstances” in a confession so much as hints that it was not voluntary, it may be inadmissible in court.
What to Watch Out For
Whenever you are questioned by the police, assume you are a suspect. Even what seems to be casual chatting and questioning gives them an opportunity to collect information that could later be used against you. Always ask if you are free to leave, and if you are not, give only your name until your attorney is there.
The Reid Technique
There are three key parts to a coercive strategy called the Reid Technique, which police often use to get a confession (whether or not the suspect is guilty):
- Isolation: The suspect is confined in a small interrogation room in order to create a sense of isolation and panic.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop–Maximization: This one’s just like what you’ve seen on tv! The first officer comes in with the bad news that a conviction is inevitable based on the (often false) facts they have. The cop will seem confident that they have an air-tight case against you.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop—Minimization: Now that they’ve got you feeling rattled, the good cop makes an entrance to let you know that your crime was understandable, and a confession will lead to lesser charges—maybe even the opportunity to go home. Ah—the perfect opportunity to fess up—to someone who really understands you! Don’t fall for it!
A Robust Criminal Defense
If you are face to face with police who are trying to get you to talk, the number one rule is to keep mum until a lawyer is there advocating for you. At The Law Office of David M. Boertje, we will fight for the best possible outcomes, every single time. Schedule a free, confidential consultation in our San Diego office today.