Miranda and Lying Cops: Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Those of you who’ve visited this site over the years know that cordite is a big NO and that cops are NOT required to spout off Miranda rights the second they apply handcuffs to the wrists of an offender. You do remember those two points, right?
For the newcomers, here’s a quick refresher on the reading of rights (click the above link to read more about cordite).
When is a police officer required to advise a suspect of the Miranda warnings? Well, I’ll give you a hint, it’s not like we see on television. Surprised?
Television shows officers spouting off Miranda warnings the second they have someone in cuffs. Not so. I’ve been in plenty of situations where I chased a suspect, caught him, he resisted, and then we wound up on the ground fighting like street thugs while I struggled to apply handcuffs to his wrists. I can promise you I had a few words to say after I pulled the scuz to his feet, but Miranda wasn’t one of them. Too many letters. At that point, I could only think of words of the four letter variety.
Two elements must be in place for the Miranda warning requirement to apply.
- The suspect must be in custody
- They must be undergoing interrogation (advisement of Miranda comes prior to questioning, while in custody).
A suspect is in police custody if he’s under formal arrest or if his freedom has been restrained or denied to the extent that he feels as if he’s no longer free to leave.
This fellow is not free to leave.
Interrogation is not only asking questions, but any actions, words, or gestures used by an officer to elicit an incriminating response can be considered as an interrogation.
If these two elements are in place officers must advise a suspect of the Miranda warnings prior to questioning. If not, statements made by the suspect may not be used in court. The absence of Miranda doesn’t mean the arrest isn’t good, just that his statements aren’t admissible.
Officers are not required to advise anyone of their rights if they’re not going to ask questions. Defendants are convicted all the time without ever hearing that sing-songy police officer’s poem, “You have the right to …”
Deception and Lying: Do As I Say, Not As I Do
We all know that it’s illegal to lie to the FBI. And we all know what can happen if you do. That’s right, you go to federal prison where you’ll join the elite Stewart/Huffman/Loughlin Club.
Making false statements (18 U.S.C. § 1001) is a federal crime laid out in Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code. This is the law that prohibits knowingly and willfully telling fibs to the cops.
On the other hand, it’s perfectly fine for the cops to lie to you. Seems fair.
Police detectives/officers are legally permitted to “
stretch the truth lie in order to solve criminal cases. The case law that permits the officers to fib to suspects is Frazier v. Cupp (1969).
In Frazier, the police falsely told murder suspect Martin E. Frazier that his cousin, Jerry Lee Rawls, had implicated him in the crime (the two were together at the time). He then confessed but later claimed that police shouldn’t be permitted to lie because otherwise he wouldn’t have admitted guilt. The Supreme Court agreed with the police and they’ve been legally fibbing to crooks every day since.
Police investigators use a variety of deceptive tactics, such as:
- Displaying false sympathy and/or claiming to understand the situation
- Minimizing the seriousness of the offense and the offenders role
- Falsely stating there is hard evidence to support a conviction
- Confession from an accomplice that implicates the suspect
- And the ever popular, “We have an eyewitness who saw you there.”
The Florida Second District Court of Appeal went a bit further by limiting just how far the police can go when stretching the truth. In Florida v. Cayward (1989), the court ruled that it’s perfectly okay to tell fibs (orally) but they may not fabricate evidence in order to deceive suspects. Cayward claimed the police fabricated laboratory reports as a trick to induce a confession. It worked and he spilled the beans. However, the court said police crossed the line and ruled in Cayward’s favor and suppressed the confession.
To sum up – Don’t lie to the cops, and …
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