The public often trusts law enforcement officers to be trustworthy. However, they can and do sometimes deceive people to get what they believe is the truth. Manipulation and distortion are commonly used police tactics that are also protected by the judicial system.
Since an authority can mislead you to get what they are after, it’s a good idea to learn about the most common deception tactics they use.
Incriminating Evidence Police Supposedly Have
Police may tell a person they are interrogating that they have evidence that proves their guilt. This includes saying they have a person’s fingerprints, DNA, or bodily fluid on a piece of evidence or a location related to the incident being investigated.
This is done for a variety of reasons. The police may be hoping that claiming untrue things about evidence will get a person to give information on another suspect or offer a confession themselves. If you are ever being questioned by police, it’s important not to say anything until you have talked to a lawyer.
Results of Tests
A police officer may say a polygraph —also known as a “lie detector”— will prove guilt or innocence. In reality, this test can’t prove either and is largely considered unreliable and useless in court. They may also make up tests and then tell people they’ll be able to find them guilty when they supposedly fail these special tests.
As with misleading statements about evidence, a police officer can say someone saw a suspect commit a crime when there is no such eyewitness in the first place. The idea behind this falsehood is to pressure a suspect into denying or confirming where they were when a crime was committed.
In addition, police may lie about when a conversation was recorded, especially since a suspect won’t know. The police generally do not have to let someone know their conversations are being recorded. In fact, sometimes the police will take a handheld recording device into a room when they are questioning someone, turn it off in front of the person being questioned, and claim the conversation is now “off of the record.” In reality, another recorder is capturing everything said in the room, one that the person being questioned can’t see.
The Consequences of What Is Happening
Sometimes, police manipulate people into giving statements by misleading them. For example, an officer may tell a person that they are interfering with a police investigation, which has serious consequences, when that person has decided to exercise their protected right to remain silent and wait for a lawyer. They may also say the judge will go “easy” on a person if they answer all of the police’s questions, which is a false claim.
When police are questioning a suspect, they often assume they have the right person, so using underhanded tactics to get to the truth does not seem wrong to them. Because of this, it’s important that you stay silent and ask for an attorney any time you are arrested.
Thanks to the Law Office of Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into some of the false things police may say when you get arrested.