Beware of Interrogation Procedures: Popular Method Produces False Confessions

 Posted on December 00,0000 in Criminal Law

Reid Technique, interrogation, Connecticut Criminal Defense AttorneyIt is known as the Reid Technique, and it is widely used by law enforcement officials to produce a confession from a criminal suspect. The problem is, however, that while the technique may work well in getting a suspect to go along with the interrogator’s version of what took place, the truth is often muddied. In some cases, it can be considered completely irrelevant. So, why do police departments continue to use it and what can you do to avoid being talked into a false confession?

Reid Technique Basics

Unlike more confrontational interrogation methods, the Reid Technique is highly manipulative and relies heavily on human psychology. It begins with a behavior analysis based on a number of non-threatening questions to establish the subject’s baseline when telling the truth. Based on the results of the analysis, interrogators quickly get a sense of whether or not they believe the suspect to be lying about the act in question. At this point, the interrogator will typically leave the room and return in a few minutes an official-looking file.

Upon returning, the questioner simply states that it is obvious the suspect committed the crime and that it is now time to work out the details. Any questions or denial by the suspect are completely downplayed, if not outright ignored. The interrogator will commonly make definitive statements about the existence of evidence that are complete fabrications and will being to minimize the negative impact of the crime. He or she may even present the crime as the lesser of two evils, all to get the suspect to agree with the questioner’s version of events.

A New Memory of What Actually Happened

Since DNA evidence has begun providing clearer proof of false convictions, more than 300 previously-convicted people have been exonerated. More than a quarter of them had confessed, largely persuaded by law enforcement interrogation methods like the Reid Technique. Considering all of the cases in which new DNA evidence has not become available, the problem is likely to be even more serious than that.

In the mid-1990s, a psychologist named Saul Kassin conducted an experiment to demonstrate how easily false confessions could be obtained. What he found was astonishing. Not only would his subjects admit to things they had not done—as simple as hitting a forbidden computer key—some of them actually internalized the guilt and created a new version of the actual events in their mind. They “remembered” doing something they never did, even after Kassin informed them of the nature of the test. Subsequent iterations of the experiment included references to non-existent “evidence” of the forbidden action, and the rate of false confessions tripled.

You Have the Right to an Attorney

When you are arrested on criminal charges, the ubiquitous Miranda warnings advise you of your right to remain silent and that anything you say can be used against you. They also promise that it is your right to have an attorney present during questioning. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this right. Always have an attorney present. If you find yourself in a room with interrogators facing questions, it is imperative to state and restate as many times as necessary that you will not answer without your lawyer. No matter how trivial the matter may seem, interrogators will use any and all openings to extract a confession, and too often the damage is done before you even know it.

If you have been accused of a crime, you need an attorney who will fight fiercely to protect your rights. Contact an experienced Hartford criminal defense lawyer at the Woolf Law Firm, LLC. Our team will remain diligently at your side at every step of the process and continue to work to your best interests. Call 860-290-8690 to schedule a confidential consultation and get the aggressive defense representation you deserve.


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