Across American police officers routinely lie during interrogations in order to bully suspects into making damning admissions. The sordid goal is not to find the truth, but to find further evidence to guilt.
|Officer Pinocchio lies to suspects.
For example, officers may lie about forensic evidence, asking why fingerprints match the suspect even when no fingerprint evidence exists.
Officers may indicate that a nonexistent eye witness identifies the defendant or that a co-defendant admits everything and implicates the defendant. This use of false information to ensnare defendants is perfectly legal in most of the United States, yet it is also known to be one of the causes for the high incidence of false confessions.
In many other countries lying to a suspect would be viewed as police misconduct. And when viewed in it’s entirety it’s not much different than the evidence used in Soviet show trials or what might be expected from totalitarian regimes bent on maintaining power.
In England, the birthplace of our common law, the government has restricted officers from using false information to lure confessions. The focus of British law enforcement investigations is to find the truth, not to merely obtain a confession. The British found that lying to defendants merely increased the chances of a false confession.
Instead of lying about facts or playing good cop/bad cop as American interrogators are prone to do, British interrogations seek to find out from the suspect what happened. As the suspect tells the story the officers look for any inconsistencies. If there are inconsistencies, then the interrogation moves forward in an effort to find truth rather than merely find more evidence to convict. Evidence in British criminal cases is gathered and deployed to find the truth of what occurred rather than basing an investigation upon preconceived notions of guilt.
It’s about more than a suspect or target of an investigation merely trying to avoid arrest and prosecution. As a defense attorney and former prosecutor in Tampa Bay, Florida I’ve witnessed many officers freely admit under oath to lying to suspects in an effort to snare a fast confession. One wonders why any juror or judge would believe anything any officer might say after make such a damning admission. Yet what a lying officer is really saying is he’s willing to lie to subvert the legal system. Any police officer willing to lie should find another job instead of bending the framework of truth in the criminal justice system.
Cases that could be quickly disposed of by persuading prosecutors to no file the charges may become much more difficult to defend if a Clearwater criminal defense attorney is not consulted soon enough. In criminal cases it’s always vitally important to have an advocate on your side as soon as possible. Your lawyer will demand discovery, conduct an intense investigation and secure any evidence that undermines the investigation or arrest.
|Ready for a Police Chase?
|When avoiding an arrest or investigation of crime it’s important to note that law enforcement officers do not have to tell you that you are the target of their investigation and that deception is considered an effective police tool so that officers do not always have to tell the truth when questioning suspects about a crime. Yet it’s during the initial investigations of officers and prosecutors that the best criminal defense lawyers lay the groundwork for cases to never proceed any further than a mere investigation.
Here are the best reasons to consult a defense lawyer as soon as you are being investigated and before charges are filed by prosecutors.
- A defense lawyer will make certain that no evidence is destroyed, misplaced or forgotten by prosecutors. Prosecutors in Tampa Bay, Florida conduct their own investigation of the facts and circumstances of criminal cases before making felony or misdemeanor filing decisions even if police have made an arrest. In fact, under Florida law, for prosecutors to file felony charges against a defendant they must conduct an investigation which typically includes placing police officers or other witnesses under oath.
- This short window of time before charges are filed by prosecutors is an opportunity for the defense to present prosecutors with the best reasons why the case should be no filed. Because no filing decision has yet been made, prosecutors are open to at least listening to other interpretations of the facts and circumstances of the case. A number of years ago while I was a prosecutor in Clearwater, Florida, I appreciated knowing that the case was weak before rather than after committing the resources, time and commitment to prosecuting a case. Sometimes evidence that may seem reliable to a prosector proves to be unreliable when facts establish that the witness is mistaken. For example, unreliable eye witness testimony has often been shown to weigh too heavily with prosecutors and judges making a mockery of justice and fairness in many criminal cases in the United States.
- Once the prosecution files a criminal charge against a defendant the apparatus of the Florida criminal justice system becomes committed to a successful outcome of either a guilty plea or guilty verdict at trial in the case. This momentum toward a result of guilt is difficult for the office to resist because prosecutors will not want to admit that they botched their initial investigation. Therefore, waiting to present evidence at a later time than the initial investigation will often result in the prosecution ‘doubling down’ by adding addition criminal charges. Further, prosecutors will do their best to win the case by demanding that law enforcement officers conduct further investigations with a view of supporting the failing case.
- Defense counsel should also be consulted before any statements are given to law enforcement to determine if a statement from a Defendant is apt to be useful in a future prosecution. Often law enforcement officers gather as many statements as possible from a defendant in hopes of finding inconsistencies or admissions of misconduct. In Tampa Bay, Florida law enforcement officers rarely record their conversations with Defendants making the law enforcement officers the only reliable witnesses as to what was actually said. Therefore confessions are often very damaging even thought they have often been found to be an unreliable indication of actual guilt.
As you can see it’s essential that a defendant seek immediate help from an advocate who understands the criminal justice system, law enforcement as well as how prosecutors conduct initial investigations in criminal cases in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Just as one leery Clearwater criminal defense attorney will look over his shoulder wondering if that police cruiser with the flashing lights is after him or (crossing my fingers) someone else, anyone who is the target of an aggressive law enforcement investigation will live in dread until the ordeal is over. Once that cruiser passes, I’ll keep typing.
|Cupid Creates Target Letter
Unlike being stopped for speeding, Federal and state investigators have no obligation to immediately notify someone that he or she is a target of an investigation. The more complex the alleged misconduct the more likely it will be that an investigation will be initiated without the knowledge of the target. As more evidence is accumulated the target may be confronted with information about the alleged crime or with an opportunity to make a statement of admission or denial of criminal conduct.
Law enforcement officers either have sufficient evidence to make an arrest or they don’t. So why provide them with more evidence? Even a denial may help an investigation if the denial comes with an explanation that is implausible or factual incoherent.
Sometimes officers may threaten to make an arrest if there is no cooperation, which is the best signal they could give that they haven’t arrested you only because they want more evidence. The objective of a target must be to keep in mind that the process of an investigation is controlled by law enforcement.
One client recently told me that she confessed to a Grand Theft charge in Tampa Bay only to ‘get out of the room’ after a long, intense interrogation in front of the people who employed her. One of the Detectives seeing her breaking point approaching kept saying louder and louder, “You want it to end? Then confess.” And in an instant against her better judgement she confessed to the crime making it much more difficult to help her get the case dismissed or reduced.
Federal investigators in Tampa Bay, Florida may generously notify a person that a possible arrest is imminent or grand jury testimony sought by sending what is known as The Target Letter. A Target Letter cajoles the recipient to find a lawyer and begin negotiations to diffuse the possibility of a pending Federal Grand Jury indictment.
Because there is little to be gained by speaking to investigators, if you do decide to speak with them make sure you have a Tampa Bay criminal lawyer with you to defend your interests and help you avoid arrest.