Police Can Lie to You

In case you didn’t know: police can lie to you.

Police will lie to you to get you to confess to a crime or to give them information about another person. They will lie to you to get you to agree to an otherwise illegal search. Police will lie to you to get you to turn over evidence that they would not have been able to get otherwise.

Police officers, like any other witness, may lie, under oath, on the witness stand to get a conviction or to protect themselves or a fellow police officer who has committed misconduct.

What happens if you lie to the police? You could be charged and convicted for obstruction of justice, compounding a felony, filing a false police report, or perjury.

What happens if the police lie to you? You could be charged with a crime and convicted based on the information or evidence they obtained by lying to you. What happens to the police? Nothing. That’s fair, right?

What are some of the more common ways that police lie to suspects or trick suspects into giving them information or evidence?

Ways that Police Can Lie to You

Police will often lie to suspects to get the suspect to give them information or evidence, to get access to search a home or vehicle, or to get the suspect to cooperate with them in making drug busts.

Police will also lie to potential witnesses to get information from them about someone else. Police will trick suspects into giving them evidence, like DNA evidence or a “failed” polygraph exam.

Police Can Lie to You About the Evidence that They Have

What happens if a police officer is investigating a case but just can’t seem to find the smoking gun that they need to bring charges?

Lean on the suspect to get a confession.

But, how? One tactic is to lie to the suspect about the evidence that they already have – for example, “you might as well tell us the truth now – we already have your fingerprints from the crime scene.” Or, “We found blood on the window frame and guess whose DNA it matched? That’s right – it was yours…”

Another common lie is, “We already have an eyewitness who saw you there. You might as well go ahead and tell us the truth.” Or, “Your codefendant is down the hall spilling the beans right now. He says the whole thing was your idea and you were the ringleader…”

Coupled with another lie, “This is going to go much easier on you if you cooperate now,” simple lies about evidence that the police (don’t) have is often enough to get a person to confess to a crime.

Police Can Lie to You About What Will Happen if you Confess

“If you tell us the truth now, this will go much easier for you in court.”

If you believe this lie and confess a bunch of crimes to the officer, you may have just given them the probable cause that they need to charge you. Even if you have already been charged, you may have just given them the evidence that they need to convict you at trial.

The truth is, if they had such a strong case against you, they wouldn’t need you to give a damning statement implicating yourself. You are most likely going to have a better case if you get out of the interview room and demand to speak with your attorney before talking to police or prosecutors.

Police Can Lie to You to Get You to Make Drug Buys for Them

“Help us help you.”

Narcotics officers may tell you that they will “talk to the prosecutor” and make sure that your sentence is lighter if you strap on a wire and start making undercover drug buys for them. What they aren’t telling you is that the officer does not make charging or sentencing decisions and the prosecutor has no obligation to do what the officer says.

They aren’t telling you how often they will say that an informant didn’t do enough, or that they don’t believe something the informant told them, in which case they might tell the prosecutor to burn you instead of helping you.

They also aren’t telling you about the informants that have been killed or seriously injured when drug dealers found out what they were doing – they don’t care about your safety so long as you are helping them make more cases…

They also aren’t telling you that, in many cases, the result will be the same or better if you talk to your criminal defense lawyer before making any statements.

If you have one of the rare cases where working for narcotics officers will actually improve your situation, your attorney will know, and you can then make a decision based on expert advice from someone who has your interests in mind.

Police Can Lie to You About the Results of Tests

I’ve heard so many people say, “Just give me a polygraph, I swear I’m telling the truth!”

Many people don’t realize the truth about polygraph exams. First, they are not reliable. In fact, they are so unreliable that they are never admissible in a court proceeding.

Second, police use polygraph examinations as an interrogation tool. Once they’ve hooked you up to this fancy, technological wonder machine and asked you a few key questions, they will come back into the room, insist that the machine says you are lying, and grill you until you say what they want to hear…

If you take an independent polygraph examination and pass, guess what they will say to your attorney? “So what? Polygraphs aren’t reliable…”

Police Can Trick You into Giving Them Evidence

The police think that you are a suspect, but they don’t have the evidence they need to charge you. What do they do? Well, first, get you into an interrogation room.

What if you don’t crack and tell them what they want to hear? What if there is DNA evidence at the crime scene and they want to compare it to yours? “Here, have a soda.” Or, “Want a cigarette?” Anything that you touch, eat, drink, or smoke may leave fingerprints or DNA evidence behind that the police can then take without getting a warrant.

Police can also “friend” you on Facebook, using a fake profile, to search your updates and photos – no need for them to get a warrant, and also not a problem for the courts.

It is perfectly legal for the police to trick you into giving them evidence that they would not have been able to get otherwise because they don’t have probable cause for a warrant.

Police Can Lie to Potential Witnesses to Get Statements from Them

Police can also get away with lying to and even threatening potential witnesses to get them to say what the police want them to say (I just want you to tell us the truth! The truth is that John was there that night, we already know that, just tell us the truth!).

Police will threaten criminal charges if a witness does not say what the police want to hear. They will threaten to charge the witness’ family members. In some cases, police will threaten to take a witness’ children if they do not say what the police want to hear.

Police can also promise their witnesses a time-cut for “truthful” testimony (“truthful” means the testimony matches the prosecution’s theory of the case) – essentially paying a witness for their testimony – and this is also perfectly legal.

Police and prosecutors can and do use many underhanded tactics to get the testimony that they need – things that would get any defense attorney arrested, charged with subornation of perjury, and disbarred.

I suppose I could go on and on and on. I won’t.

Can I Get My Case Dismissed Because Police Lied to Me?

When can trickery or lying by the police result in dismissal? Almost never.

It may result in suppression of evidence or key statements by the defendant, but only if “coercion” was used – a rare situation where the court must find that the pressure put on the defendant was so extreme that it resulted in an involuntary statement or an involuntary consent to search.

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Myrtle Beach, Columbia, and Lexington, SC

Lacey Thompson only accepts criminal defense cases in the Myrtle Beach, Lexington, and Columbia, SC areas.

If you have been charged with a crime or think that you are under investigation, call the Thompson Defense Firm now at 843-444-6122 or send us an email to set up a free consultation.

can police lie to you

One Response to “Police Can Lie to You

  • Respondent
    11 months ago

    Grrrrrr. I think we both know that they do a lot more than merely lie around here; that they’re typically not alone in it; and, it’s not ok. For eventually, they’re going to run into a person significantly smarter than they are. And in a state that bears no statute of limitations on criminal offenses, it’s just a matter of time before that someone changes their demographics and religion…

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