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Why do some police lie during questioning?

“Telling lies” sits at the top of many people’s lists of unethical and immoral behavior. Shockingly, law enforcement personnel don’t always have problems telling lies when attempting to maneuver someone into self-incrimination. Someone may go from a suspect or even a witness to a defendant in a New Mexico criminal court after making statements after the police employed blatant deception. New criminal justice reforms might attempt to address such questionable tactics.

Lies and confessions

The police likely want to close a case. Referring an “easy conviction” to a prosecutor helps the cause, and a confession could make a guilty verdict unavoidable. Yet, the defendant might be innocent, but the criminal defense strategy faces challenges due to a signed confession.

Suspects could make false confessions based on the assumption the system will go easy on them. Police officers might make such false promises, leading to a false confession. A police officer may lie about witnesses implicating the suspect, even though no such witnesses exist. The lie could frighten a suspect enough to confess.

Such tactics may seem outdated and ethically dubious. Such tactics are legal, although some states want to curb these practices.

Addressing police deception

Illinois and Oregon took steps to deal with police lies and deceptions during interrogations. Illinois has a new law going into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, that bans the police from lying to juveniles during interrogations. Oregon followed Illinois’ lead with similar legislation, and New York might also do the same.

Although the law could bar a police officer from lying, the officer may violate the law. Of course, everything remains moot in states where lying is acceptable and legal.

Defendants might find it highly valuable to invoke their right to remain silent. Answering questions only in the presence of an attorney may prevent serious legal problems from arising.