Is it legal for a policeman in face-to-face questioning to lie to you in order to get you to confess?

Also, why is it legal for them to not tell you that you are being recorded? I am being charged in a case such as this. I understand that it is a long standing argument that in face-to-face questioning, the questioned party should assume the officers could be wired but I find this ridiculous and will fight it to the supreme court, pro se if need be, in order to win this case.

Asked on July 5, 2014 under Criminal Law, Virginia

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

There is no law against the police misrepresenting the truth or otherwise misleading a suspect. For example, stating that certain incriminating evidence gains them exists or that a co-defendant has already confessed. The simple fact is that, with a few exceptions, they are allowed to lie to a suspect to get them to confess. The thinking is that an innocent person would never confess to a crime they didn't commit, even if presented with false evidence of their involvement. Unfortunately, that's not always the case but it is in large part of the reason why the police are allowed to employ deceptive tactics during an interrogation. That having been said, the police are generally prohibited from making threats and/or false promises of lighter sentencing or the like. This is why a suspect who is an custodial interrogation must be read their Miranda rights, of which the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney are a part. However, no such rights exist in a non-custodial interrogation. Exactly what your status was during your interrogation is not clear.

As for recording your conversation, in some states all parties must consent to a recording of them being made, however other states only require one person to the conversation need consent to the recording.

At this point, you need to consult with a criminal law attorney ASAP (assuming that you have not already done so). You can relate the details of just what happened to them. They then will be in the best position to offer you advice on your case.


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