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Interrogation and Lie Detector (polygraph)

The police may interrogate a suspect either before or after an arrest. They must only provide Miranda warnings after arrest, and they often manipulate suspects into “answering a few questions” before an arrest to avoid having a lawyer present.

Police study a number of interrogation tactics derived from the military and use psychological pressure to trick suspects into confessing to crimes. However, these psychological tactics also cause innocent people to admit to crimes, usually in cases with minors or adults with learning disabilities.

The police will try to manipulate a suspect into signing away his constitutional right to remain silent and to consult a lawyer. The police may make a suspect believe that he or she cannot leave the police precinct.  A person should never agree to police questioning without a lawyer present because a person often will make incriminating statements or confess.

Common Tactics

If the police want to interrogate a suspect, they will tell the suspect that they need help with a few questions. To entice the suspect, the police will act pleasant, friendly, and concerned. At the police precinct, the officers will place a suspect into a small room and seat him next to a wall or in a corner. They will leave the suspect alone in the empty room for long periods of time, often watching his behavior through a one-way mirror. When the police enter, the officers will crowd the suspect to make him feel trapped, and the officers may play different roles to try and gain the suspect’s trust (good cop, bad cop). The officers will tell the suspect that everything will stay “just between us,” but the police will record or videotape every word and use it against the suspect later. The police will try to convince the suspect that the only way to leave the precinct is to confess to a crime.

The number one mistake made by suspects: they do not understand that the police may lie about everything and even invent fake evidence to trick the suspect into confessing. For example, an officer often will tell a suspect that a friend or neighbor told the police that they saw the suspect commit the crime and that if the suspect confesses he will receive a short sentence or probation (even though police have no say in plea bargains and sentencing). All information provided by the police is usually untrue, and anyone facing police questioning should contact a lawyer familiar with these tactics.

Interrogation may last all day or all night, sometimes longer, and the police will limit the suspect’s ability to sleep, eat, and use the bathroom.

Lie Detector Tests

The police may pressure a suspect or witness into taking a lie detector test (the polygraph). The unreliable polygraph test cannot be used in court, but the police will use it to pressure a suspect. The lie detector test has an almost 50% chance of failure. As with most interrogation tactics, the police use the polygraph to trick a suspect into believing that an infallible method for determining the truth exists, and frightened suspects believe this and confess to whatever the police tell them to say.

Contrary to popular belief and TV shows, the unreliable test is easy to fool. The officer reading the machine will ask a series of yes or no questions to a suspect (called "control questions"). The officer purposefully will ask a question that usually elicits a lie and will gauge the person’s blood pressure and breathing as a baseline. If a suspect recognizes this control question, he can fool the machine by stepping on a stone or clenching his anal muscles as one might do in the bathroom. These are the oldest tricks in the book because they consistently work.

The Law Office of Adam Bevelacqua does not recommending any attempt to fool a polygraph machine during a police interrogation. Instead, a person never should consent to a polygraph test or police questioning. The Law Office of Adam Bevelacqua will protect a client from an interrogation at any time, even before an arrest.