Criminal Interrogation Techniques on Trial

By Jayne, Brian C.; Buckley, Joseph P.,, III | Security Management, October 1992 | Go to article overview

Criminal Interrogation Techniques on Trial


Jayne, Brian C., Buckley, Joseph P.,, III, Security Management


THE INTERROGATION OF CRIMINAL suspects is essential to the investigation process, and in a large percentage of solved cases, a confession played a vital part.

Nevertheless, when a confession is presented as evidence at a criminal trial, it is often subjected to unwarranted attack. The attacks are, however, warranted when there is some basis for charges of direct or indirect physical force, threats of physical harm, or promises of leniency in return for a confession. Any one of those factors may induce an innocent person to confess; consequently, such allegations of that nature must be fully explored.

Also exempt from the unwarranted category are confessions obtained in violation of a court-established rule designed to safeguard a constitutional right--the Miranda warnings, for example.(1)

Defense counsel can, with full legitimacy, attack a confession based on police noncompliance. This is also true if the police employ methods that shock the conscience of the community, as when a police interrogator poses as a member of the clergy or a defense lawyer to obtain a confession.

What investigators deplore, however, are the claims that a confession is flawed because of the use of nonthreatening, no-risk psychological tactics and techniques to induce truth telling by a criminal suspect.

A gross misconception prevails that a person who commits a criminal offense will, in most instances, readily admit it or confess after only a brief period of questioning.

Only a short time is needed if the police resort to force, threats, or promises of leniency as interrogation tactics to obtain confessions. However, confessions ordinarily do not result quickly when proper, nonendangering, psychologically effective tactics and techniques are used. A reasonable period of time--perhaps several hours--is required to definitely eliminate innocent suspects or to implicate the guilty. Such procedures are rarely accurately depicted.

Many judges have no comprehension of the extent to which an interrogator must rely on psychologically sophisticated interrogation techniques to elicit a confession, and the ability of both innocent and guilty suspects to resist these techniques without confessing is not understood.

Joseph D. Grano, a professor of law, explains, "The professional interrogator, with his anxiety-inducing tactics, is employed precisely because the inherent pressures of custodial interrogation usually are insufficient by themselves to produce the desired confession."(2)

In recent years a number of confessions have been suppressed as a result of defendants' claims that the psychologically sophisticated nature of the interrogation techniques created certain perceptions that led them to confess involuntarily.

The defendants were not claiming that they were physically threatened or abused; they were not claiming that the interrogator offered them a promise of leniency in exchange for a confession; and they were not disputing that they knowingly and voluntarily waived their rights under Miranda. The following description of a Michigan court case illustrates the problem.

The person under interrogation was the driver of a car that crashed over the railing of a bridge, resulting in the death of his three children. His wife, also a passenger, survived.

Investigators believed that the crash may have been intentional rather than accidental, so the suspect was asked to take a polygraph examination. The examination was followed by several hours of interrogation, after which the suspect confessed.

A psychologist who testified at a suppression hearing described the interrogation as one that employed "highly sophisticated psychological techniques." He based his conclusion that the confession was not voluntary on the following considerations, taken from the trial court transcript:

* The technique the interrogator used was a hypnotic technique resulting in the defendant being brainwashed. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Criminal Interrogation Techniques on Trial
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.