The “legal” lie. It’s counterintuitive, isn’t it? But that’s exactly what Wisconsin law enforcement officials are permitted to do when interviewing and interrogating criminal suspects. Psychological manipulation is commonplace during criminal investigations, and individuals without an attorney often fall for these law enforcement traps.
The Reid Technique is a system of interrogation that is intended to induce criminal suspects to admit to crimes, and many law enforcement agencies around the world use it. It often involves the interviewer lying to the suspect in order to gain trust or influence them to believe that confession is his or her best option. Fortunately, when you have an experienced attorney present during an interview, the manipulation of the Reid Technique can be mitigated, ensuring that your legal rights are protected.
Both the United States Constitution and Wisconsin Constitution guarantee criminal suspects the right to have an attorney present during police questioning. However, this right must be asserted. The police are not always required to read suspects their Miranda Rights, and information obtained during a willing interview can be used against you. If you’ve been arrested, respectfully decline to speak with the police without the presence of an experienced Outagamie County criminal defense lawyer. The top-rated Outagamie, Brown, Winnebago, Calumet, and Waupaca County criminal defense attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff have studied police interviewing techniques and can often protect you from incrimination and false accusations.
Police Interviewing Basics
If you’ve ever caught an episode of Law & Order, you’re probably familiar with the following phrase: “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” And it’s true. Even if you’re not being arrested, Wisconsin law enforcement officers are always looking for suspects and evidence of criminal activity. Witnesses and/or suspects are often approached in public or at their homes where the police request an informational “interview” about a crime. Once officers gather certain basic information, these “interviews” often turn into “interrogations” wherein officers ask leading questions, manipulate your answers, and poke holes in your story to get a confession. If you haven’t been formally arrested and/or deprived of your freedom, police don’t have to:
- Tell you about your right to silence or an attorney
- Inform you that you don’t have to speak with them or invite them into your home
- Dress in an official uniform
- Inform you that you’re under investigation
Sometimes police even interrogate non-suspects to gauge their level of potential culpability.
Most importantly, the law actually permits investigators to utilize psychological manipulation, including lying, in order to obtain evidence of a crime. Police officers are trained to use a plethora of interviewing techniques, developed by police psychologists, to get the information they need. The interrogation technique developed by John E. Reid is considered the most common method of investigative interviewing in the world, and most major police forces train their personnel in using it.
The Fundamentals of the “Reid Technique”
The “Reid Technique” is self-described as a “structured interview and interrogation process” broken into three stages:
- Fact Analysis
- The Investigative Interview
- The Interrogation
Despite being called the “fact analysis,” don’t be fooled. The entire goal of law enforcement employing the Reid Technique is admittedly to “identify evidence or information that can be used to corroborate a confession.” The interviewing officer using this technique often begins by asking about the details of the crime, the victim, the scene, and even your opinion as to motive in order to gauge your level of knowledge. He or she then moves onto the “interview” stage whereby the officer appears “neutral and objective” by asking questions about your background or behavior, but don’t be fooled! Officers are seldom neutral and instead are attempting to:
- Establish a casual rapport to make you feel comfortable
- Acclimate you to the interviewing environment, if necessary
- Establish your “behavioral baseline” to help them better read your body language and tone during interrogation
During your interview, you may be asked about:
- The days leading up to the crime
- Your education, background, and financial situation
- Your version of events
- The victim
- Your belief system and “opinion” on the crime and punishment
- Any provocation or mitigating circumstances surrounding the event
Officers are preparing to use the information gathered against you during the interrogation stage, which is where most suspects are trapped.
Common Interrogation Traps
During the interrogation stage of the interview, an officer’s goal is to get a verbal admission or confession of criminal activity and turn that into a written or recorded confession. This will be used against you in a court of law. Officers often do this by lying to and manipulating suspects, but suspects are not permitted to lie to or manipulate law enforcement officials without facing potential obstruction of justice charges. You are not held to the same legal standards. Common traps include:
- Implying investigators have or are “close to” gathering incriminating evidence against you
- Implying you’ve been “thrown under the bus” by a co-conspirator
- Telling you they’ll “go easy” on you if you confess
- Empathizing with you to mitigate the crime
- Giving you “alternatives” to your alibi. For example, asking you whether “you were only at the store that day to get milk, right?” If you agree, you’ve just placed yourself at the scene of the crime
Such interviewing techniques are statistically proven to increase the chance of a confession and trap unwitting individuals attempting to aid an investigation, and they are permitted in Wisconsin. For this reason, if you’ve been accused of a crime, it’s imperative that you retain a lawyer as soon as you can.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with an Appleton Criminal Defense Attorney
Most unwitting suspects are questioned without an attorney present because they believe it will imply guilt if they refuse an interview or demand an attorney. But if you’re subject to an investigational interrogation, it’s likely that law enforcement already assumes you are guilty.
It’s illegal for your silence or request for an attorney to be used against you in a criminal prosecution. This includes during the warrant process, grand jury proceedings, and at trial. If you’ve been charged with a federal or state criminal offense in Appleton, Green Bay, Oshkosh, Chilton, or Waupaca don’t delay, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff today by calling (920) 450-9800 or contacting us online for a free, confidential defense consultation.