Law Office of Tim Powers
In the United States, as many as 80 percent of suspects waive their rights to silence and counsel, allowing police to conduct full-scale interrogations. Researchers estimate that innocent Americans confess to crimes in potentially hundreds of cases each year. If you have been falsely accused of a crime but are in fact not guilty, think twice about agreeing to speak with an officer and attempting to maintain your innocence. Instead, remember your Constitutional rights and ask for a lawyer both early and often to properly preserve your rights and protect yourself from abusive, but perfectly legal, police interrogation techniques.
But, why would you need a lawyer if you didn't commit a crime? If you are innocent, what harm could come from agreeing to speak with police? Right? Wrong. Police interrogate you because they want you to confess. A confession is powerful evidence in a trial and can support a finding of guilt even in the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, police may question an innocent person more fiercely than a guilty person because they lack other incriminating evidence against the innocent. If they actually had a strong case against you, then they wouldn't need your confession.
Confessions are so powerful that a jury might not care how the confession was obtained or might not realize that the State's or government's case is not very strong without that confession. Juries are less concerned with the tactics used to get someone to confess than they are with the fact that the person "admitted" guilt.
If the police lack incriminating evidence to link someone to a crime, it is perfectly legal for them to "make up" evidence for purposes of their interrogation. That's right: The police can legally lie to you and trick you into confessing. Their theory is based on the their mistaken concept that an innocent person would never confess to a crime they did not commit.
But, in fact, innocent people do confess, and do so for many reasons. The police are much better trained at getting people to confess than innocent people are trained to defend their innocence. Being accused of a crime and questioned by someone who thinks you are guilty is a very stressful situation. After prolonged questioning, many people just want the uncomfortable situation to end. Often, they begin to think that confessing is their only way out.
Before you agree to talk with a police and waive your right to silence, think about what police are taught to do during an interrogation. Police can use the following tactics to beat down even the most confident people:
- Cops are trained to try to get around assertions of the right to counsel by continuing to talk to the innocent person, sometimes for hours and hours or even on different days;
- Cops are trained to keep inquiring when an innocent person says he doesn't want to talk to them;
- Cops are trained not to accept statements such as "I didn't do it" in order to keep inquiring until the person inculpates himself;
- Cops are legally allowed to lie about the evidence. For example, cops are legally permitted to claim that DNA links a person to the crime when DNA does not exist;
- Cops are legally allowed to trick an innocent person, such as by claiming that an individual near and dear to them is in another interrogation room that very minute saying that the person is guilty;
- They are legally allowed to ask the innocent person to imagine how the crime might have been committed and then later, at trial, say that the innocent person must have committed the crime because they described how it could have happened;
- They may even go so far as to threaten to take other legal action – such as threatening to take away an innocent person's children – if the person refuses to confess to guilt.
Do not be tricked into giving up your Constitutional rights. If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent and the right to speak with an attorney. If a person in custody unequivocally invokes these rights, interrogation by the police must immediately cease. If you do decide to talk with police, remember it is good judgment to have an experienced attorney by your side!
If you are seeking aggressive criminal representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney for your Denton County criminal case or arrest in Denton County, contact the offices of Tim Powers today. There is no charge or obligation for the initial consultation. 940.580.2899.
*Tim Powers is an attorney licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any specific legal question you should directly consult an attorney.