Whether you are questioned by the police, aka the ‘po po’ while standing on a public sidewalk, or you are in police custody for a formal interrogation, there are some secrets that you need to know. The police (po po) can, and often do, use deceptive practices to try to gather information, incriminating statements, and confessions. They do not want you to know their secret tricks!
If the po po questions you about anything, it is important to know that your answers, regardless of how brief, may put your freedom at risk. At the Law Offices of Steven R. Adams, LLC, we know that many people have a difficult time refusing to answer police questions. Most people mistakenly believe they should or must answer their questions. Still, you should understand that you are most likely putting yourself in jeopardy if you do talk to po po. Keep reading to learn more about these risks and police tricks.
1. When The Po Po Wants To Question You, It’s Most Likely Not A Good Thing
Unless you were an innocent bystander who witnessed a crime or accident, if the po po wants to question you, it’s most likely not a good thing to answer. When the po po wants to ask you questions, they’re looking for evidence and admissions to a crime. When they speak with you, they will be very vague, and they will encourage you to keep talking to see what ‘helpful’ information you can give them. And what is helpful to the police, may very well be harmful to you.
2. Your Constitutional Right To Not Answer Questions
When the police want to interview you, you have a constitutional right to not answer their questions. It is the government’s burden of proof, not yours. People often want to cooperate with the police because they are afraid of looking guilty for refusing to answer questions. By giving them answers, however, you can unwittingly help them make an incriminating case against you by opening yourself up to the tricks and scams that the po po can use to gather evidence and secure confessions.
3. Everything You Say (And Don’t Completely Say) Can Be Used Against You
Everything you say to the police can be used against you, and their goal is to keep you talking for as long as possible. They want to hear what you have to say so that later, they can tear it apart and use your statements in a way that best suits the case they are building. The reason they will keep you talking is that every statement that you make gives them additional material to be twisted and used against you at trial.
If you decide to answer any police questions, everything that you unintentionally did not say can be used against you too. For example, if you answer their questions, but you don’t tell them the full story, or you innocently leave out a fact, they will use that as evidence that you were not completely forthcoming. At trial, they will point to information that you did provide, and attempt to show that you left out specific information because you were trying to hide evidence of your guilt.
4. The Police Want You To Be Pigeonholed
The police want you to answer their questions so that they can get you pigeonholed. If you answer their questions and innocently leave out part of the story because you are nervous, not only could you be impeached at trial for not telling the full story, but you also give the prosecution help in drafting their own narrative against you. When you voluntarily talk to the police, they have time to share your story with other witnesses and the prosecutor.
This gives them an opportunity to come up with their own version of events in order to poke holes in your story and help them achieve their ultimate goal, a conviction. Witnesses and police officers may testify under oath, but do you believe that they always tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth at all times? Maybe so, if there are trials in Heaven, but certainly not here on Earth.
5. Beware If They Ask You To Visit The Police Station
The police do not generally invite suspects to the police station unless they intend to keep you there. If the po po asks you to go to the police station to answer some questions, they are probably going to interview you and then arrest you.
They might ask you to take a polygraph test even though it is well established that polygraphs are not reliable. And they have the right to falsely tell you that the polygraph shows your answers were untruthful. Lying about polygraph results is a common tactic that they use to try to elicit incriminating information and confessions.
6. Police Are Taught And Trained In Psychological Coercion
Part of law enforcement training is learning psychologically coercive interrogation techniques, and unfortunately, these techniques often lead to false confessions. Police officers are trained to have total control over interrogations so that they have an advantage, and it results in putting you at a disadvantage. That is why the only time you should talk to the police is when you have a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney by your side.
More than 50 years ago, the United States Supreme Court addressed these coercive and manipulative interrogation techniques that frequently result in false confessions. Instead of ruling that it is illegal for the police to lie, trick, and deceive you, the Supreme Court came up with the Miranda warning requirement instead. Effectively, the police can still use coercive interrogation techniques, so long as they read you your Miranda rights.
7. Confess to God, Not To The Po Po
If you have something to confess, tell God. If you have nothing to confess, tell God. And whatever you do, do not talk to the police without first consulting with a lawyer. The police aren’t on your side, but your lawyer is. Your lawyer has taken an oath and is duty-bound to be on your side.
Law Enforcement and prosecution have the ultimate burden of proof when it comes to proving your guilt, and you do not have to help them make their case. When the police start asking questions, the most important thing to remember is to confess to God, not to the po po.
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