One technique that is commonly used by police officers who are investigating a crime is the Reid Technique, developed by John E. Reid & Associates, Inc. The Reid technique is a manipulative and coercive interview and interrogation technique that is used to try to convince you to confess to a crime, through intimidation and deceit. It is based on inaccurate assumptions about human behavior that the officer will then use to convince both you and the investigator that you are guilty and should just confess.
The “interview” may start out innocently enough with questions that appear non-accusatory designed to give the investigator a chance to watch your behavior. During this portion of the interview, the investigator will not accuse you of lying and will seem to take your responses at face value. Simply put, the police officer is not going to show his hand at this point in the process. The officer likely already believes that you are guilty and is looking to confirm that belief. However, even if the officer believes you are innocent, the procedure is expressly designed to get you to share information that you might not willingly share with police.
If the officer decides that he or she believes that you are guilty, the “interview” will become an interrogation. Often, the officer will leave the room for a few moments and come back with a file that supposedly proves that you are guilty. The officer probably won’t actually show you the “proof”, but will gauge your reactions to further cement his or her theory about your guilt or innocence. However, even if your behavior at this point suggests that you are innocent, “the investigator should not allow the response to deter him . . . . He should respond by repeating the initial [accusation] of involvement . . . .” (quoted from Reid & Associates website) In other words, even if the officer begins to doubt your guilt, he or she is still expected to continue to accuse and insist that the evidence points to your guilt.
The officer will try to soften you up by helping you justify the crime. The officer will act like he or she is sympathetic to you and the reason that you committed the crime. The method calls on the officer to shut you down if you try to deny and to continue to insist that the evidence against you is overwhelming. The process continues through several more steps, using intimidation and confusion, designed to get you to sign a written confession. Ultimately, this written statement is used as evidence against you if you take your case to trial or to coerce you into entering a plea.
If you do manage to get through the interrogation without signing a confession, your behavior during the investigation will likely be used at trial to convince a jury that you are guilty. It starts with the prosecuting attorney getting the police officer (who is usually a detective) qualified as an expert in interrogation techniques. The officer will then testify that a certain response, statement, action, etc., is typically indicative that a person is lying or is guilty. Then the officer testifies that you gave that particular response, statement, action, etc.
The point of all of this is simply this: There is no benefit to participating in a police interrogation. Although the officer will say, “I just want to hear your side of the story”, what he or she really wants is for you to say or do something that will make you look guilty. Although I believe that most police officers really don’t want to convict innocent people, they often place far more confidence in their investigative methods than they should. By the time an interrogation takes place, the officer has already decided that he or she thinks you are guilty – and the officer is not looking to be proven wrong.
Fortunately, you don’t have to participate in an interrogation. Simply tell the officer that you do not wish to speak to him or her and that you want to talk to an attorney. Be firm when you say this. Don’t say, “I think maybe I should talk to a lawyer” or anything that is not 100% firm and clear. Instead say, “I will not speak to you” or “I will not speak to you without an attorney present” or “I want to exercise my 5th Amendment rights.” Make it clear that you are asserting your right to stay quiet. More importantly, after you do this, STAY SILENT. Even though the officer should not ask any more questions, any statements that you voluntarily make can still be used against you.
If you are interrogated by a police officer, you will always come out on the losing end. Exercise your right not to participate and stay silent!
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