In October 2007, a woman was found shot to death in her home, and law enforcement identified a 40-year-old woman from Minnesota as a suspect. According to Postcrescent.com, the suspect was originally charged with party to a murder, a crime to which she confessed. However, a psychologist later determined that the defendant did not understand her right to silence and therefore was susceptible to pressure during an interrogation. Her attorney, much like a Minneapolis sexual assault defense lawyer would do, successfully argued that the confession was coerced, and he negotiated a plea deal for a lesser charge.
Law enforcement will often rely on a number of tactics during the interrogation process in order to obtain a confession or evidence. It is important for defendants to recognize the tactics and protect their rights.
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The Reid technique
One of the most common methods of questioning involves the Reid technique, which has been criticized for garnering false confessions. It involves a direct confrontation between law enforcement and a suspect and typically involves the following:
- Presenting the facts of the crime
- Shifting the blame for what occurred onto someone else so the suspect feels more comfortable
- Giving options for why the person committed the crime with one choice that would be more socially acceptable
The Reid technique could involve isolation through keeping the suspect from friends or family or placing the person in a windowless room. It may also utilize the so-called “good cop, bad cop” method of having one interrogator state that the defendant is guilty and present a theory on how the crime occurred. Another interrogator or even the same person will then take on a more empathetic role to try to gain the suspect’s trust.
According to The Innocence Project, false confessions occur in roughly 30 percent of cases in which someone facing a criminal charge is later exonerated by DNA evidence. One of the explanations for this, the organization states, is that during an interrogation, a suspect may fear violence from law enforcement, or law enforcement may actually inflict harm.
People who do not understand their rights could fall into the trap of informal questioning. Law enforcement may try to make it seem that simply stopping someone to gather information is not an accusation. However, anyone can be a suspect, and it is best to only answer questions with a Minneapolis sexual assault defense lawyer present.
Lying or misrepresentation
An interrogator can mislead a suspect in a number of ways. For example, law enforcement may lead someone to believe that they have obtained evidence that they do not actually have. Additionally, an interrogator could misrepresent the sentencing for a charge such as a sex crime in order to try to secure a confession.
Anyone who has been suspected of a crime should contact a Minneapolis sexual assault defense lawyer immediately to avoid the traps law enforcement may use to obtain a confession.