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Can the police lie to you?

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Any interaction with North Carolina police can be stressful – and risky. They ask demanding questions and may even accuse you of violating the law or committing a crime you did not.

The risk involved in these interactions becomes even more clear when you wonder: is it possible for the police to lie to you?

The myth: Police cannot lie

It is a common myth that police officers cannot or do not lie to suspects. In fact, legal precedent even allows police to engage in certain forms of deception. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports specific examples that police frequently use, including:

  • Stating that a suspected accomplice confessed when they did not
  • Claiming they found fingerprints or DNA evidence at the crime scene
  • Insisting they have other evidence, such as photographs or videos of the crime

The APA notes there are specific limits to these tactics. For example, a deceptive tactic cannot undermine your rights, such as the protection against self-incrimination.

When is it most common for police to use deception?

Most officers use deceptive tactics in the interrogation room to try and obtain a confession. There are still rules police officers must follow in these situations, but as mentioned above, police can often still lie in certain instances.

It is critical to note that false representation or lying is explicitly not allowed in the event of a search. Whether police claim they have a warrant when they do not, or if they are not straightforward about what they are searching for, it is a violation of your rights. Both of these situations would mean they conducted an illegal search.

Remember your rights

The most important thing to take away is to make sure you understand and take advantage of your rights. You may not be able to determine if an officer is lying or not. However, you can ensure you:

  • Clearly state you will remain silent
  • Politely say you would like a lawyer present
  • In the event of a search, ask to see the warrant

Protecting your rights is paramount in any interaction with the police.