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Common Tactics Police Use to Get a Confession

Posted by Dan Cogdell | Oct 07, 2015 | 0 Comments

Whether you are stopped by a police officer for a suspected traffic violation or are suspected of a more severe crime, the officer's goal is to get you to talk — and, in doing so, hopefully getting you to confess.

In fact, police interrogations are expressly designed to do just one thing: produce confessions. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to not make any statements until you have spoken with a criminal defense attorney. Even the most innocuous statement may be turned into something against you, so saying nothing is the best strategy if you are detained for questioning.

It also helps to be aware of the common tactics police use to get a confession, including:

Good cop/bad cop. This technique has been around for more than 70 years. The reason it has been used by law enforcement for so long is because it works!

First, the police will isolate a suspect, generally in a windowless, sterile room designed specifically to make someone feel alone. Then an officer will begin by stating he knows the suspect is guilty and state reasons why the police believe this is so — reasons that may or may not be true. The suspect will be berated for maintaining his or her innocence. The “bad cop” interrogation can go on for some time before the officer moves on to the “good cop” persona, where he tells the suspect that he understands why the crime was committed and that everything will be all right if the suspect just confesses. The officer may tell a suspect that he or she will be released or get a lesser charge if they confess. You should not answer any questions and say you want to speak to an attorney.

Lying. Contrary to popular belief, the police can lie to you. There is no law against an officer saying that there is evidence you committed a crime or that someone else has implicated you, even if this is untrue. While police cannot make threats to evoke a confession, they can — and often do — lie. Your best protection is to ask for an attorney.

Informal questioning. Any time you interact with a police officer, you should assume that officer suspects you of a crime. Even the most informal questioning can trap suspects into revealing information that can be used against them. The best way to avoid possible incrimination is to refrain from answering any questions without an attorney.

The Cogdell Law Firm is a boutique law firm focusing on large, complex business and criminal financial-related litigation, including white collar criminal defense, securities fraud, health care fraud investigation, criminal appeals and state criminal defense. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or [email protected]

About the Author

Dan Cogdell

Principal & Founder Principal and founding attorney at Cogdell Law Firm, Dan Cogdell, is often referred to by his contemporaries as a “Texas trial legend.” He has been practicing criminal defense law for 36 years, during which time he has handled some of the most complex and high-profile cases i...


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