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Coercive Police Interview Techniques

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Police interviewers often go from the assumption that the suspect is guilty.

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By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

It is my firm position that no one should ever go into the police station without an attorney to be interviewed.  Guilty or not guilty.  It doesn't matter.  The police interviewer is only attempting to connect dots to establish that a crime has occurred.  He/she is not interested in your "story" or why you feel you were "duped" by the victim.

The Reid Technique

This technique is based on the assumption that guilty suspects can be identified from telltale behavioral clues that are indicative of deceit.  Any one who appears to be lying during an initial interview is deemed to be guilty.  In order to make these determinations, police investigators rely upon clues to determine deceit, such as: body language, facial expressions, gestures, and particular phrases.  Because the suspect is PRESUMED guilty, the interrogation is not investigative in nature.  Rather, the whole purpose is to elicit and confession.  An investigator may minimize the seriousness of the crime, exhibit sympathy, or attempt to relate to the suspect in order to gain more information.  They may also maximize certain things, such as a steadfast assertion that the suspect is guilty or manage their denials or protests about the case.

It is never a good idea to simply walk into a station when invited by an investigator to provide "your side" of the story.  The police and prosecution may not rely upon your assertion of a right to an attorney during the interview process to establish your guilt.

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