Criminally Yours: Lying To Get To The Truth, By Toni Messina

Above the Law writer takes a stand against police lying in interrogations.

Criminally Yours: Lying To Get To The Truth
By Toni Messina

A hot topic in criminal law is “false confessions.” Why would someone ever admit to a crime he didn’t commit? How could anyone be so naïve or stupid?

But not only does it happen, it happens more frequently than you would imagine. Why?

In large part because it’s legal for police to tell suspects the boldest lies in order to wrangle a confession from them. Among the most common lies are:

– “We’ve got you on video doing the crime, so you might as well admit it.”

– “This is only a small case, just say you did it and you’ll get a drug program.”

And the most powerful:

– “Just tell us you did it and you can go home.” How any perp with a sheet as long as his arm could believe this always astounds me, but many, addled by drugs, alcohol, or mental disease, do. They’re easy pickings for the cop.

Some confess truthfully, but some say whatever it takes just to go home.

The reaction of many when I tell them a confession pretty much dooms their case is: “But that isn’t fair. The police lied to me. They aren’t allowed to lie.”

Yes, they are.

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