One aspect of criminal law that leaves many people shocked is that the police have legal room to lie to suspects and even witnesses. If you're under investigation, you probably just started wondering exactly what the police can and can't lie about. Also, you're probably curious about how you can deal with this problem. Keep reading to learn about this issue and what criminal lawyers prefer their clients to do.
Lying as an Interview Technique
The strongest legally accepted argument for the police lying to suspects is as an investigative technique. A common police practice when multiple people are allegedly involved in an incident is to split the suspects up. Suppose the cops believe you and your best friend stole some goods from a store. The police might say your friend has told them everything in the hope you'll break.
Similarly, the police can lie about what evidence they do or don't have. They might tell a suspect they found a weapon from a shooting incident, for example.
Presenting Physical Evidence
One area where the law discourages police falsehoods is in the presentation of physical evidence. A cop isn't supposed to put a gun down on the table and clearly state that it's the weapon used in a robbery unless they obtained the weapon from the scene.
However, this is a fuzzy area of criminal law. Attorneys will tell their clients to assume the worst about the investigative techniques.
The Nature of the Interview
Another common police technique is to fib about the nature of the interview. The cops might tell someone they consider a suspect that they're a witness, for example. Similarly, they might say they just need to ask a few questions and that you're not under investigation. The problem is cops and prosecutors don't legally have to reveal the existence of an investigation until they charge the suspect with an offense or execute a search warrant.
Your first instinct may be to call the cops out for lying. Don't do this. It may be a trick that leads to a question about how you know something is a lie if you weren't at the crime scene.
Instead, your best play is always to refuse to answer any questions your lawyer doesn't instruct you to answer. If you don't have a lawyer present, tell the police officers you're invoking your rights to remain silent and to have counsel present. Until your attorney shows up and advises you, you have nothing to say to the cops.