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Can the police lie during interrogations?

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Criminal Defense

The police lying during interrogations has been a debatable subject for years. In 2021, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill making Illinois the first state to prohibit law enforcement officers from using deception when interrogating minors.

So, why was this law important to the state?

Lying during interrogations can lead to wrongful convictions

Research has shown that the use of deception during interrogations, such as the police saying they have evidence when they don’t or promising to reduce penalties when they can’t, increases the chances of false confessions.

Someone accused of a crime is likely to admit guilt if it means they will pay a reduced fine or get a reduced sentence instead of going to court dealing with uncertainty. They may also plead guilty if they believe the police gathered DNA evidence or have surveillance footage from the crime scene, and so on.

False confessions due to the use of deception are especially common among minors. When a juvenile are under pressure, they can easily falsely confess because the parts of their brain responsible for judgment, decision-making and future planning are not fully developed. These parts may not fully develop until the mid-to-late 20s.

If a minor believes the police have evidence against them, they may want to get the case over with as soon as possible without assessing how their decision will affect their future.

Does this mean the police can still lie to adults?

Since this law prohibits the use of deception during interrogations of minors, the police may still legally use psychological tactics to get confessions from adults. Nonetheless, there are limits that the police should observe.

If you believe the police violated your rights or that of your minor during an interrogation, seek legal guidance to understand your next steps.