A police officer asked me an intriguing question the other day. He asked,”are you against police officers attempting to get confessions out of suspects”? I followed up with a quick question to him. I asked, do you mean by force? He answered, by any means! I quickly gave him my answer that I’ll share with you. My answer is no! After explaining why to him, he felt I was correct but made a surprising statement, which forced me to share this article with you. His statement was, “Robert, you and I know many police officers, especially many detectives, will do almost anything to get that confession”. He continued, “some will actually physically beat the suspect, some will attempt to trick him, and almost all will certainly lie”. He’s correct!
Look, first a few notes. Please understand, I in no way desire to see any guilty criminal, bad cop or otherwise, set free. But his statement is profound! It’s what I’ve been saying to many of you…invoke your right to consult with an attorney before making a statement!
I would love to see all criminals confess, but there’s one obstacle to his way of thinking. How do you know that your suspect is in fact guilty? (remember, we’re talking about the mere arrest of an individual, not a person already convicted in court). Would a police officer want an innocent person to confess to a crime he or she didn’t commit? Surprisingly, some cops do. They’ll take a confession from anyone (see my article called the Michael Crowe Story or google his name). Not all, but a few.
The founding fathers wrote the constitution and through it’s many inferences strongly demanded that no citizen rights be violated and that no one strong armed anyone into a confession. Federal and state guidelines are clear that when anyone asked for an attorney, all questioning should cease! I’m speaking U.S.citizens, not citizens from other countries. The document they passed address grievances from this country and it’s citizenry. Other countries abide by their own constitution!
Police officers are permitted to lie to get a confession and they’re permitted to trick you. The Supreme Court many years ago gave them this right! I’m not here to question that ruling, but I’ll tell you what, I will demand that the very officers given that right abide by another right…the right to remain silent! This officer disturbs me slightly, especially if he believes that because many officers are willing to violate their oath and the rule of law that’s it’s permissible.
Here’s the law. You or I are arrested for a crime. The moment we say we want an attorney, we should be set for a trial by our peers. That’s it! No more tricks or lies to ‘catch” me. The jurors and judges are now obligated to “catch” me. Never should an arrestee (that’s all you are at that point) be beaten into a confession! The law clearly says that it’s better for one guilty person to escape justice than for one innocent person to be jailed for a crime he or she didn’t do! I agree that’s a good and fair law. Not perfect, but it’s the best we have right now. Matter of fact, in my opinion, the laws in this country are the fairest that man has devised. Not perfect, but in principle fair! Get arrested in Turkey or Mexico and you’ll see what I mean.
But sadly I’ll reveal another problem. You know the saying “that all are innocent until proven guilty”. Well that’s not exactly the truth. You and I know, and many of us are guilty of this as well, that the moment a person is arrested, somehow we tend to believe he or she is probably guilty! It’s an indication that we give a lot of credit to law enforcement… we assume they're correct!
Let me illustrate a perfect ongoing national case. The Caylee Anthony arrest. Here’s a woman arrested for a crime, but not yet found guilty. The majority of the public opinion polls says she’s guilty! ( please don’t flood my email with messages suggesting that I’m saying she’s innocent, I don’t know if she’s guilty or innocent). I’m only illustrating a point about arrests and attempting to keep it real!
Let’s take it a step further. You and I also have seen thousands of arrestees convicted and later exonerated and in many cases (since DNA) seen perfectly innocent citizens released from prisons and released off death row because of a bad arrest! I know it’s difficult but try to keep an open mind about mere arrests. I battle with that human fault often, and I’m sure some of you do as well! But there’s one thing we should all agree on, never should a U.S.citizen be beaten into a confession!