While many people may be surprised, the answer is “yes.” When anyone, regardless of age, is brought in for questioning by police, they are expected to tell the truth. However, those standards do not apply to law enforcement.
While a handful of states are on the verge of enacting laws prohibiting this practice, the reality is that officers can, in most cases, lie during interrogations, and it happens frequently. According to the Innocence Project, this practice often leads to false confessions, especially among minors.
Four things to know about deceptive police interviews
The Innocence Project outlines these facts about dishonest police practices:
- Lies and false evidence are common: While physical force is prohibited during interrogations, police can still employ psychological tactics. These include claiming to have proof that doesn’t exist or saying a friend or family member confessed and implicated the person being interviewed.
- False confessions lead to wrongful convictions: The Innocence Project found that in 375 DNA exonerations, false confessions were present in 29% of those wrongfully accused and convicted.
- Minors are more vulnerable: Studies show the parts of the human brain controlling judgment, planning and decision-making aren’t fully developed until the mid-20s. This leaves teens and other young people especially susceptible to deceptive tactics.
- Police deception is legal in Georgia: While the reliability of confessions can be challenged in court, law enforcement in Georgia and most other states routinely use this method to pressure people into admitting guilt.
Illinois recently passed a bill banning police from deceiving juveniles during interrogations. Confessions made under these circumstances would be considered inadmissible as evidence. Oregon and New York legislators are debating similar bills.
Exercise your rights not to answer police questions
The best way to avoid this police tactic is to understand your Constitutional rights. If officers want to talk to you as part of an investigation, politely decline to answer their questions without a lawyer present. An experienced criminal defense attorney understands how police operate and can determine whether any actual evidence exists that can potentially link you or your child to a crime.