Can the police lie to you to get you to confess?


I have made it clear that you should never speak to the police when they accuse you of a crime. Especially if you are innocent. You cannot trust what the police are saying and what evidence they are presenting to you during the interrogation. Sometimes the police lie to you, and tell you that they have evidence they do not have. But can the police lie to you and get away with it? The short answer is, yes they can, in most cases.

In what ways can the police lie to you?

There are many ways a police officer may use deception to coerce a confession from a suspect. Sometimes the officer will display false sympathy for the suspect. Other times police lie and saying they have incriminating evidence that they do not have. Sometimes they will falsely claim that a co-defendant has already implicated the suspect in the crime.

Rules of Interrogation

The police must follow certain procedures once the suspect is in custody. The police must obtain a voluntary, knowing, intelligent waiver of the suspect’s privilege against self-incrimination. Also a waiver of his right to counsel. In other words, they must get you to give up your right to remain silent and to an attorney. Only then can they interrogate you.

Voluntariness of the Confession

After you have waived your rights, the confession must still be a voluntary confession. Whether a confession is voluntary or not is based on the “totality of the circumstances”. The Courts have held that a police officer simply lying does not result in an “involuntary confession”. However, they have said that it is one of the many factors when looking at the “totality of the circumstances”, whether the confession was voluntary. In other words, if there are many other things the police officer did to force a confession, including lying to the defendant, then the Court may decide that the confession was involuntary. If so, the Court will not allow the State to present the confession to the jury. However, lying alone will not cause the court to suppress the confession.

False promises are disfavored.

Courts generally disfavor a police officer making false promises to the suspect to induce a confession, especially where the police promise to dismiss or reduce charges in exchange for a confession. Police officers know this, and usually make more vague promises to the suspect, like promising to bring the suspect’s cooperation to the attention of the prosecutor, and how it will be better for them to confess. These vague promises do not receive the same scrutiny as the express promise to dismiss a case in exchange for a confession. Consequently, police commonly make these vague promises to extract a confession.

As I have said so many times before, you should exercise your right to remain silent, to begin with, so that you do not get caught in these traps. If you have made damaging confessions to the police, then you should seek the services of an attorney. See what your attorney can do to help you with your case.