We’ve all watched intense scenes in police dramas in which a detective melodramatically questions a suspect in an interrogation room. Popular films and TV shows often depict a dark and dingy interview room lit by a single spotlight, complimented by a two-way mirror and a shouting match. But are the portrayals we see in movies and on television fact or fiction? What do the police actually do during an interrogation? What rights does a suspect have?
In simple terms, interrogation is a tactic law enforcement uses to obtain confessions from people they suspect have committed a crime. You may be questioned by various law enforcement officers, including state or local police, Joint Terrorism Task Force members, or federal agents from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Administration, and more. Likewise, it’s important to note that detectives often employ clever and cunning tactics to gather confessions from suspects, so it’s important to know your rights. Here’s what you can expect.
What is a Police Interrogation?
A police interrogation is an interview conducted by law enforcement officers, military personnel, intelligence agencies, organized crime syndicates, and terrorist organizations to elicit useful information, mainly information related to a suspected crime. There are several types of interrogations that are important to discern:
The Reid Technique
When police officers suspect someone of committing a crime, they often use the Reid interrogation technique, which was first developed in the 1940s, but it’s colloquially known today as “Good Cop / Bad Cop.” The technique is known for creating a high-pressure environment for the interviewee, followed by sympathy and offers of understanding and help, but only if a confession is forthcoming.
In police procedural dramas—where a version of the Reid technique is frequently portrayed—the interrogation often ends with either a tearful confession or an intervention by a defense attorney, who shuts it down. In reality, the Reid technique is very effective at extracting confessions, and for that reason, it has been in use for over a half-century. Police rely on isolating suspects, fabricating stories to obtain a confession, and offering the “good cop” mantra.
To avoid incriminating yourself when put in this situation, say nothing at all except to ask for a lawyer.
Informal questioning can occur in any encounter or interaction with a police officer. Whenever an officer stops someone who doesn’t know why, it is fair to assume that they suspect a crime, whether it’s as trivial as speeding or as egregious as murder. In these scenarios, it’s always important to ask if you’re free to leave. If so, you should head out, and if not, you should refuse to answer any questions until after consultation with an attorney.
Although trained to stay close to the facts, police officers are not always above deception. There’s no law stating police officers can’t lie, and while police are prohibited from making threats, the lines between impermissible threats and allowed police tactics are far from clear. The best self-protection from unfair police tactics is with the assistance of a lawyer who can investigate the case and find out what evidence, if any, the police may have.
What Are Your Rights During a Police interrogation in Florida?
In the United States, safeguards have been placed on the interrogatory powers of the police. In Escobedo v. Illinois (1964) and Miranda v. Arizona (q.v.), (1966), the Supreme Court required that the police inform a suspected person of his right to remain silent and of his right to have legal counsel present at his interrogation.
Today, police are required to recite the Miranda warning to suspects before any questioning is conducted. The police must convey the following rights:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
- You have the right to an attorney
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
Likewise, as stated, you have the right to remain silent and request an attorney anytime police are questioning you. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution prevents anyone from being compelled to be a witness against themselves in any criminal case. While you’re required by law to provide your name, you don’t need to answer questions about where you’re going, where you came from, what you’re doing, where you live, whether you’re a U.S. citizen, or whether you’re here lawfully.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in West Palm Beach
It can be very upsetting and confusing to be in a room with law enforcement agents accusing you of a crime, especially if it’s something you didn’t commit. If you’ve been arrested in Florida, it’s crucial that you get in touch with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in the West Palm Beach area soon as possible. For legal assistance, look no further than The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel.
Attorney Brian Gabriel has served the community of West Palm Beach for more than 30 years as a criminal defense attorney. He understands the complexities often involved in these cases and can help protect your reputation and future. After an interrogation—especially an unlawful one—you can be assured that attorney Brian Gabriel will fight for your rights. Call (561) 622-5575 or complete a contact form for a free consultation.