Police officers in movies and television shows behave in ways that real police officers cannot. They pull out their weapons with almost no provocation. They become physically violent when emotionally provoked. They also openly lie to those that they interrogate in the hopes of tricking them into a confession.
When police officers in the real world mishandle their firearms or engage in inappropriate physical altercations, they face disciplinary action for their behavior. However, the same is not true if they blatantly lie to a suspect.
Is it legal for the police to lie to people and trick them during an investigation?
Police can lie with virtual impunity during an investigation
While there are rules that limit a police officer’s use of physical force and weapons to protect the public, there are very few rules restricting how police investigate while communicating directly with a suspect.
Police officers may employ interrogatory strategies that involve them intentionally lying about the situation or their beliefs to get a suspect to make some kind of admission during the questioning process. Youthful offenders are particularly vulnerable to such tactics.
Police officers could claim to have located a witness or to have evidence that they truly do not. They might even make promises about how they can help a defendant minimize the penalties they face. Only a prosecutor can enter into a plea deal that limits the charges or penalties a defendant faces.
Police officers can even lie to members of the public who are not suspected of a crime if they think that lie will help them solve an open case. There are very few rules that prevent police officers from lying about what they intend to do or what they have found while investigating.
How can you fight back against law enforcement lies?
There are usually no means of penalizing a police officer for lying to a suspect, and proving that an officer lied won’t help someone reverse a confession or challenge evidence, in most cases.
However, invoking your right to stay silent when dealing with the police could help you. If you don’t speak to the police, it does not matter what lies they try to tell you. Invoking your right to an attorney can also help, as they can identify and protect you against questionable law enforcement strategies.
Learning about what happens when you face criminal charges can help you better protect yourself if you ever get arrested.