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Can police lie to teenagers during an interrogation?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

There’s a surprising double standard in the interrogation room: Although the people who are being interrogated are expected, to tell the truth, it’s actually quite legal for Texas officers to lie during these conversations. Police are legally allowed to lie to minors when interrogating them. Unfortunately, this deceptive tactic is frequently effective for prompting confessions, even when those being questioned aren’t guilty.

The well-documented history of police lying to teens during interrogations

One of the most well-known examples of interrogating officers lying to minors is seen in the case of the Central Park Five. Each of the five teenagers being questioned in this case was told that the others had already implicated them. Nearly 14 years later, after each of the accused had served sentences ranging from 6 to 13 years, new evidence and a confession revealed the true offender. Given the vast number of false confessions made throughout the years due to dishonesty during interrogation, a growing number of states are working to outlaw this practice.

Deceptive tactics used in interrogations

By law, police cannot use physical force to get someone to confess. However, making false claims to incite confessions isn’t considered unlawful in most areas. Police officers routinely use a number of psychological strategies to get the answers they want, especially when investigating juvenile crimes. This is why all defendants, irrespective of their age, are advised against making any statements until their attorneys are present.

Common forms of deception

When teenagers are thought to have committed crimes with co-conspirators, police officers may try to convince individual parties that confessions have already been obtained. Interrogating officers can also lie and say that they’ve collected solid evidence that proves fault for a crime even though they have not. This purported evidence can include fingerprints, DNA evidence, personal clothing, or other physical items.

Wrongful conviction and false confession

Deception in the interrogation room can be especially harmful to minors. They have a higher likelihood of making false confessions when being subjected to the intense pressure of false information and to interrogation methods, such as the Reid Technique, that are entirely guilt-presumptive. Sadly, approximately 29% of wrongful convictions are the result of false confessions.

No matter a person’s age, they have the right to remain silent and to avoid making statements that might jeopardize their case outcomes. Waiting until legal representation is present is always the best way for an accused person to protect their interests. As legislators work to correct double standards in the interrogation room, defendants should know their rights and take full advantage of the legal protections they provide.