Are the police allowed to lie? Do they have to answer “yes” if they’re undercover or in plain clothes and you ask if they’re a cop? There is a lot of misinformation going around about law enforcement and what they can and cannot say to a suspect, arrestee, or subject of an investigation. We will work to dispel these myths and offer information that can help you make the right choices if you ever find yourself in an encounter with the police.
Yes, The Police Can Lie to You
The short answer is yes, the police are allowed to lie to you. They may say almost anything to try to get you to admit to a crime or offer up information that could lead to an arrest, warrant, or incriminating evidence. They can lie about having your fingerprints at the scene, they can lie about being able to get a warrant to search your property (this is a lie they may use to try to get you to consent to a search), and they can lie about getting you a reduced sentence if you cooperate. They can even say that they have an eyewitness who can place you at the scene of the crime.
Police officers are trained on interrogation techniques and may lie about insignificant or important things to try to get a suspect to cooperate or confess. They may create little “white lies” about themselves and their backgrounds to try to build rapport with a suspect. They may claim that they’ll put in a good word with the judge if the suspect confesses. They may say that they have an accomplice in the other room who is spilling his or her guts about the crime.
When it comes to interrogations and investigations, you must remember that law enforcement officers have nothing to do with sentencing. They can’t guarantee that you’ll receive a reduced sentence if you cooperate or that you’ll go free if you give up information on someone higher up the food chain. Take everything they say with a grain of salt because it could be completely false. Instead, politely decline to answer any questions and ask for an attorney.
No, They Don’t Have to Admit They’re Cops
Another common myth about law enforcement in general is that they have to admit that they’re cops if you ask directly. This is simply untrue. While plainclothes officers must identify themselves as police when exercising their duties, like making arrests, in many situations they do not have to answer “yes” when asked if they’re law enforcement. Otherwise, undercover officers would stand no chance in the field.
Your Best Bet Is to Remain Silent
If you’re arrested and taken into custody, the police are required to read your Miranda rights to you. This includes your right to remain silent, your right to an attorney, and your right to know that anything you say or do can be used against you in court. Once you’re read your rights, the police may say anything to try to get you to confess. Your best option is to remain silent.
Trying to cooperate, even if you know you’re innocent, can only spell disaster. You might be tricked into confessing, or into saying or doing something that makes you look guilty. They’ll lie, mislead you, and try to trick you to get what they want. Don’t give them that opportunity. Ask for your lawyer and keep your mouth shut.
Talk to a Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Police are charged with an essential duty: to serve and protect. If they believe you’ve committed a crime, they may lie to you to try to carry out that duty. Remember: you have the right to legal counsel. At Thomas & Paulk, we’ve seen police use all kinds of lies and underhanded tactics to try to squeeze information and confessions out of suspects. Our Tampa criminal defense attorneys are committed to protecting our clients’ rights in the face of half-truths and outright lies. The police can lie to you, but this doesn’t mean that you have to fall prey to their tactics.
To find out how our firm can help you, contact us online or give us a call at (813) 321-7323 for a free consultation.