Many times people will read or hear about innocent people confessing to a crime and react with skepticism. Why would someone confess to a crime they didn’t commit? The answer to that is easy: the police and investigators are skilled in interrogation. There are widespread public misconceptions about what law enforcement can and cannot do. Police can and do lie to you. It is a common interrogation technique. The following examples illustrate common police tactics that are entirely constitutional:
- Insist they hold evidence against you that doesn’t exist.
- Lie about witnesses to the crime.
- Lie and tell you they are going to stop recording your conversation to talk “off record.”
Risk factors for false confessions
The maze of lying and confusion created during interrogation is designed to break you down psychologically. As the interrogation wears on, people start to think confessing is in their best interest. Children and people with intellectual disabilities have been led to believe they committed a crime they cannot recall. Studies suggest those with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or depression are statistically more likely to make a false confession.
Call a lawyer right away to protect yourself from incrimination
Because police can provide inaccurate information about the case to elicit a confession, it is essential that you contact a lawyer to represent you immediately. You must provide your name and identification information to the police if you are questioned. Next, clearly tell the police that you are using your right to remain silent, and ask to talk to a lawyer right away. If you are subject to a search, state that you do not consent.
Invoke your rights, but treat law enforcement with respect
Keep in mind that you need to behave in a respectful manner towards the police at all times. Do not try to escape or resist arrest if you are detained. If unsure whether you are being detained, just ask: “Am I free to leave?” A little bit of knowledge goes a long way towards protecting your rights.