As sworn officers of the law, most people assume that police officers are required to be truthful while on the job. Although the vast majority of police officers are in fact truthful and upright members of society, dishonesty also plays a vital part in investigating and policing crime. For the most part, police officers are given wide discretion in whether or not to tell the truth in a variety of situations.
A common example that many people believe is true is the direct question to an undercover officer. As seen in many TV shows and movies, a “smart” criminal will attempt to cover themselves from arrest by asking an undercover police officer if they are actually a police officer. The assumption in this situation is that if asked, a police officer must reveal their identity because they are not allowed to lie in order to avoid entrapment. Although this makes for dramatic viewing on the silver screen, this belief is not grounded in reality. When a police officer is conducting undercover surveillance, they are exposed to dangerous situations that could prove fatal if their true identity is revealed. As such, an undercover police officer is allowed to partake in criminal behavior in order to maintain their undercover identity which gives them no obligation to tell the truth.
Police officers are also allowed to employ deception when engaging in interrogations of suspects. Although police officers are required to give suspect their Miranda rights at the beginning of an interrogation, they are not obligated to do anything else. As a result, almost anything is fair game. Some common deceptive police tactics are:
- Stating that a co-conspirator has already confessed and implicated the suspect in the crime;
- Stating that they have incriminating evidence that shows that suspect is guilty; or
- Stating that an eyewitness has already identified the suspect as the guilty party;
However, police officers are not allowed to lie about anything regarding immunity from charges in exchange for statements that a suspect may make. If done, this behavior would violate an individual’s Miranda rights and be considered illegal.
Just based off of these basic examples, it is important to remember that anything you say to a police officer can potentially be used against you, even if it is based off a lie or deception from a police officer.
If you have been charged with a crime after the police have used lies or deception, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case. Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.