If you are a fan of television crime shows, you have likely watched a scene where police characters play the “good cop, bad cop” roles. This is where one officer comes off as aggressive and menacing to the person who is being interrogated, while the other officer acts as their ally, encouraging them to tell the truth about what they know regarding the crime being investigated. Police officers are allowed to use many tactics like this in order to get a suspect or material witness to confess what they know. But just how far is too far and what law enforcement actions violate a person’s constitutional rights?
The Fifth Amendment grants several rights to protect individuals during a criminal investigation or proceeding, including guaranteeing the individual due process of law, prohibits double jeopardy, and protects the individual against self-incrimination. Unfortunately, the Fifth Amendment does not always protect an individual from any of the many deceitful tactics that police officers use to coerce a confession from a suspect. The ability for law enforcement to use these tactics has even been approved by the U.S. Supreme Court (Frazier v. Cupp, 394 U.S. 731).
One of the more frequent ploys that police use in order to get a suspect to confess to a crime is to lie about the evidence they actually have. They may tell the suspect that they have DNA evidence linking them to the crime when they actually do not have that evidence. They can also lie about another suspect’s “confession” that the person they are interrogating helped in the commission of the crime.
Many police officers are so good at lying to suspects that they do get the confession they want, even from people who did not commit the crime. In fact, according to national statistics, police-induced false confessions are among the leading causes of wrongful convictions and have been responsible for hundreds of false convictions eventually overturned by DNA evidence.
New Illinois Law
While many adults are intimidated enough during a police interrogation to admit to a crime they did not commit, teens are even more susceptible to deceitful tactics. Recent studies have shown that children under the age of 18 are two to three times more likely to falsely confess to a crime than adults. A new Illinois law, however, will change that.
The new law prohibits police from using any deceit during an interrogation of a juvenile suspect. Any confessions obtained under these circumstances will be ruled as inadmissible in any criminal proceeding against the juvenile. It is the first law of its kind to pass in the country, although two other states – New York and Oregon – are considering similar legislation. The bill passed both the House and Senate and is currently awaiting the governor’s signature.
Contact a Will County Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has confessed to a crime you did not commit because of duress by police during questioning, you need an aggressive Joliet criminal defense attorney defending you. Call McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC today at 815-727-0100 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.