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Does a police officer have to be honest? 

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2023 | Criminal Defense

A police officer has no legal obligation to be honest with a suspect. When conducting an interview, it is often legal for the officer to lie.

This comes as a surprise to many people, who naturally assume that the police need to operate within certain legal guidelines. Being honest seems like the natural ethical position. After all, the police officer is in a position of authority. People are tempted to believe that what they’re being told by these officers is true.

But this can be a very dangerous assumption to make, and it could have a massive detrimental impact on someone’s case moving forward. It is true that anything that a suspect says can be used against them in a court of law, and so saying something based on a lie could compromise their position.

Coercing a confession

One example of this is if a police officer attempts to get a suspect to make a confession. The officer may lie about what evidence they’ve gathered. For instance, someone who is suspected of a crime may be told that there is video footage of them committing that crime, so they might as well admit to what they did. But the footage doesn’t exist at all. 

This tactic is so effective that it has even been found to lead to false confessions. These occur when someone who didn’t break the law still claims that they did under pressure from police officers. It’s a type of manipulation that can put innocent people behind bars, and it is most effective when used on young people.

For all of these reasons, it’s very important for those who are facing criminal accusations to understand their legal options.