Even if you have never had a one-on-one encounter with a police officer, you likely realize that it is illegal to lie to someone in law enforcement. Whether the individual works for the federal government or a local police department, you could face criminal charges simply for telling them inaccurate information.
Quite a few people mistakenly believe that police officers are bound by a similar rule that prevents them from lying during interrogations or other stages of their investigations. However, police can and often do lie to the people that they suspect of involvement in criminal activity in the hopes of getting evidence from them or possibly eliciting a confession.
They lie about what evidence they have
A police officer may wish that they had fingerprints or some kind of genetic evidence tying the suspect to a crime scene, so that may be exactly what they tell their primary suspect that they have. The goal is to convince someone that the police already know they committed a crime so that they will confess. There is technically no rule that prevents a police officer from claiming to have forensic evidence or security camera footage that doesn’t actually exist.
They lie about what other people have said
A police officer might want to convince someone that the other people involved in certain criminal activity have turned against them. A police officer claiming that someone implicated a suspect or confessed and claims they were involved as well might prompt that suspect to start making a confession of their own. Police officers will look for any signs of damage in the relationship between suspects believed to have cooperated in criminal activity and try to drive a wedge between them.
They lie about how they can help
One of the most insidious lies told by police officers to those in state custody is that their cooperation at this early stage in the investigation will benefit that individual. Police officers might convince someone to confess by claiming they can get the prosecutor to take certain penalties off the table or reduce the charges that someone faces. Only prosecutors have the authority to offer such deals, and if someone doesn’t have an offer in writing, it may very well be a fabrication.
Having an attorney present when individuals interact with the police can prevent mistakes that could negatively affect their options for any future criminal defense strategy.