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Should police be allowed to lie in investigations?

Should police be allowed to lie in investigations?

  • Yes.

    Votes: 8 25.8%
  • No.

    Votes: 19 61.3%
  • Sometimes/other.

    Votes: 4 12.9%

  • Total voters
    31

radcen

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Should police be allowed to lie in investigations?

As it is now, police are legally allowed to lie in investigations and interrogations. Ours is one of the few 'first world' countries that allows this. Most do not. Before you answer I need to make some qualifications to the question...

Included in the question:
- Saying, "Johnny said you killed Joe!", when in fact Johnny never said such a thing.
- Saying, "You failed the polygraph! Now, tell us the truth.", when in fact the person passed the polygraph.

These types of lies are legally allowed in interrogations.

Not included in the question:
- A person asking an undercover cop, "Are you a cop?". To me, this is fine for the undercover cop to lie and say 'no', though I do have issues with how some undercover operations are done in general, but that's another subject for another thread.

So, should police be allowed to lie in investigations?
 

Fisher

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Courts use the Shock the Conscience Test. I am fine with it as is, though if I were a Judge, I would probably have a lower threshold for what shocks the conscience than what some seem to have.
 

radcen

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Courts use the Shock the Conscience Test. I am fine with it as is, though if I were a Judge, I would probably have a lower threshold for what shocks the conscience than what some seem to have.
I think I know what you're talking about, but could you elaborate a bit on what "shock the conscience" is? Thanks.
 

joko104

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Lying is problematical on psychological terms, not so much ethical terms.

First, once an officer comes into the practice of lying to get a confession/conviction, the question does become where is the line drawn and what is the overall then truthfulness of the officer in general such as in court?

Another real problem would be then obtaining false confessions to get "the deal," because with the officer lying the defendant then figures the officer will then also just lie in court. For example, if the officer said (falsely) "we have your fingerprints" - a defendant then may believe the police officer planted the fingerprints and therefore has no chance in court.

Or if the officer lies and says (falsely) that a friend or someone else said he did it, then the person figures that person will tell that lie in court. Since the "deal" usually is dramatically lower than the maximum, the person is having to do the bizarre thought-process of believing the officer/other person who you know is lying won't tell the same lies in court - and the whole rest of your life is depending upon you deciding the officer/person both is a liar - but won't be a liar in court at the same time.

It also creates a public credibility problem.

So my answer is generally no and only in very rare instances.
 

Fisher

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I think I know what you're talking about, but could you elaborate a bit on what "shock the conscience" is? Thanks.
"We have credible evidence you did it" or a "witness" or something like that being okay.

there have been cases where the police went overboard. IIRC there was one that got tossed where the police convinced the person a relative had been seriously injured and they wouldn't be able to let him go to the hospital to see the relative who might die until the person confesses or something along those lines.

as a lawyer sometimes you get played into the police rumors as a way of them trying to spread a lie back to someone. Since I have to tell my client what I know even if I think it is not true what the police say and the client asks and then turns around and tells their cadre of thieves then I have been played into the game.
 

ThePlayDrive

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I'm tempted to say "yes", but I realize that my "yes" answer is premised on an assumption that only guilty people would be tripped up by lying. That assumption is wrong. Therefore, I say "no", they shouldn't be allowed to lie, particularly when the person's lawyer is not present to call their bluff.
 

jamesrage

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Should police be allowed to lie in investigations?

As it is now, police are legally allowed to lie in investigations and interrogations. Ours is one of the few 'first world' countries that allows this. Most do not. Before you answer I need to make some qualifications to the question...

Included in the question:
- Saying, "Johnny said you killed Joe!", when in fact Johnny never said such a thing.
- Saying, "You failed the polygraph! Now, tell us the truth.", when in fact the person passed the polygraph.

These types of lies are legally allowed in interrogations.

Not included in the question:
- A person asking an undercover cop, "Are you a cop?". To me, this is fine for the undercover cop to lie and say 'no', though I do have issues with how some undercover operations are done in general, but that's another subject for another thread.

So, should police be allowed to lie in investigations?

Law enforcement should not be allowed to lie.The police lying creates a perception that police are untrustworthy. People who enforce our laws should be leading by example.
 

mak2

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I do not think Police should be allowed to lie. Even to save a life. I do think they should lie to save that life, but someone should say something bad to them if they do. Like you stink or something. I am really only half kidding, it should be policy not to lie, but on occassion it might be necessary.
 

Hard Truth

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I don't like the idea of police or prosecutors lying for the reasons others have mentioned. I would be interested to see research on the impact of laws against police lying where it has been banned. If these anti-lying laws reduce bogus convictions I would definitely support a ban.

I think there are more significant reforms of police investigatory practices that need to codified such as requirements for video recordings of interrogations, requirements to insure that lineups are unbiased etc. It is disturbing that police and prosecutors have been able to successfully block passage of these laws.
 

specklebang

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During initial investigation, the police should be allowed to tell any lie about anything to determine if you are indeed the bad guy. It's the prosecutors that are not allowed to lie. Prosecutors are responsible to take information from the police and insure that it makes legal sense and that the charges are relevant. What the police can NOT do is be abusive.

Anybody innocent who confesses because of a lie is an idiot. But they will still be protected by the concept of actual innocence. There won't be a real witness. There won't be any fingerprints.
 

MaggieD

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Should police be allowed to lie in investigations?

As it is now, police are legally allowed to lie in investigations and interrogations. Ours is one of the few 'first world' countries that allows this. Most do not. Before you answer I need to make some qualifications to the question...

Included in the question:
- Saying, "Johnny said you killed Joe!", when in fact Johnny never said such a thing.
- Saying, "You failed the polygraph! Now, tell us the truth.", when in fact the person passed the polygraph.

These types of lies are legally allowed in interrogations.

Not included in the question:
- A person asking an undercover cop, "Are you a cop?". To me, this is fine for the undercover cop to lie and say 'no', though I do have issues with how some undercover operations are done in general, but that's another subject for another thread.

So, should police be allowed to lie in investigations?
Yes, cops should be able to lie. They're not under oath. Why should they be held to a higher standard than anyone else? Only guilty people are trapped by lies. An innocent person isn't EVER going to say, "Oh my GOD!! My friend lied and said I did it!! Even though I didn't, I'd better confess!!"
 

Paschendale

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When a suspect is in custody, the police should not be permitted to lie to them. Police should NEVER be allowed to lie about the content of the law, standards of proof, or common court practices. And certainly not make up evidence to coerce a confession out of someone. The OP's example of an undercover cop who must lie for self-protection is an obvious exception, but there's really no reason why a cop should ever lie to anyone during the course of their duties.
 

radcen

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Yes, cops should be able to lie. They're not under oath. Why should they be held to a higher standard than anyone else? Only guilty people are trapped by lies. An innocent person isn't EVER going to say, "Oh my GOD!! My friend lied and said I did it!! Even though I didn't, I'd better confess!!"
By this reasoning, suspects should be allowed to lie to police as they're not under oath either. If police are allowed to lie then they're actually being held to a lower standard.

Legally allowed, just to be clear.
 

jamesrage

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Yes, cops should be able to lie. They're not under oath. Why should they be held to a higher standard than anyone else? Only guilty people are trapped by lies.
If a criminal lied about his identity or anything to obstruct police in their job then I am pretty sure that individual would be charged with something.

An innocent person isn't EVER going to say, "Oh my GOD!! My friend lied and said I did it!! Even though I didn't, I'd better confess!!"
I am sure a lot of people would confess to a crime they didn't do if they honestly thought the police had evidence on them and that the only way out of it or to get a lighter sentence is to confess.
 

radcen

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I am sure a lot of people would confess to a crime they didn't do if they honestly thought the police had evidence on them and that the only way out of it or to get a lighter sentence is to confess.
Happens more often than some would like to think. Draconian mandatory minimum sentences that make guilty plea deals look even more attractive... even to the innocent... don't help.
 

MaggieD

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By this reasoning, suspects should be allowed to lie to police as they're not under oath either. If police are allowed to lie then they're actually being held to a lower standard.

Legally allowed, just to be clear.
Suspects can lie to police. It's not against the law to lie to them. Cops can't arrest you because you lie to them. Can't prosecute you for lying to them either. (Federal agents -- different story)
 

Paschendale

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I am sure a lot of people would confess to a crime they didn't do if they honestly thought the police had evidence on them and that the only way out of it or to get a lighter sentence is to confess.
There are, in fact, quite a few situations where exactly that has happened. Or even people who did do the crime, but the evidence against them is really thin, and they only confess because the police lie about additional evidence. That person's right to only be convicted by a standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt" has been grossly infringed, opening the door to such abuses on the aforementioned innocent as well. The idea that only guilty people have anything to hide is naive at best and dangerous at worst.

Suspects can lie to police. It's not against the law to lie to them. Cops can't arrest you because you lie to them. Can't prosecute you for lying to them either. (Federal agents -- different story)

Sure they can. It's called obstruction of justice.
 

Ikari

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Should police be allowed to lie in investigations?

As it is now, police are legally allowed to lie in investigations and interrogations. Ours is one of the few 'first world' countries that allows this. Most do not. Before you answer I need to make some qualifications to the question...

Included in the question:
- Saying, "Johnny said you killed Joe!", when in fact Johnny never said such a thing.
- Saying, "You failed the polygraph! Now, tell us the truth.", when in fact the person passed the polygraph.

These types of lies are legally allowed in interrogations.

Not included in the question:
- A person asking an undercover cop, "Are you a cop?". To me, this is fine for the undercover cop to lie and say 'no', though I do have issues with how some undercover operations are done in general, but that's another subject for another thread.

So, should police be allowed to lie in investigations?
Maybe not universally no, but pretty much no, they shouldn't be allowed. State trickery should play no role in the evaluation of guilt or extraction of data.
 

specklebang

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How about cops that lie to hookers? They're in no danger but they lie to get the girl to say the magic words. Now that I don't like.

But in solving serious crimes, they can BS their heads off until your lawyer arrives. And don't remain silent :)!


When a suspect is in custody, the police should not be permitted to lie to them. Police should NEVER be allowed to lie about the content of the law, standards of proof, or common court practices. And certainly not make up evidence to coerce a confession out of someone. The OP's example of an undercover cop who must lie for self-protection is an obvious exception, but there's really no reason why a cop should ever lie to anyone during the course of their duties.
 

Ikari

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Suspects can lie to police. It's not against the law to lie to them. Cops can't arrest you because you lie to them. Can't prosecute you for lying to them either. (Federal agents -- different story)
It is against the law to lie to them (they'll call it obstruction or something obtuse), and if they find out you will get charged with something. With as much as they can charge you with. There's enough floppy laws on the books to make you pretty much guilty of something at any given time.
 

specklebang

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You can't use slippery slope arguments for everything. It is already established that the police can lie. The issue is guilt or innocence more than the "doubt" issue. The courtroom is where final matters are reviewed.

Trust me. I'm not a fan of cops. But I'm not a fan of bad guys either.




There are, in fact, quite a few situations where exactly that has happened. Or even people who did do the crime, but the evidence against them is really thin, and they only confess because the police lie about additional evidence. That person's right to only be convicted by a standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt" has been grossly infringed, opening the door to such abuses on the aforementioned innocent as well. The idea that only guilty people have anything to hide is naive at best and dangerous at worst.




Sure they can. It's called obstruction of justice.
 

Ikari

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I'm not a fan of cops. But I'm not a fan of bad guys either.
I'm a fan of freedom and liberty and I think that perchance the degree to which we allow the government to coerce and threaten until they get the punishment/charge they want has gone well over the line and now works against our very liberty this government was created to protect.
 

specklebang

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Yes, we all loves us that liberty.

But this is a narrow and specific topic. Can a policeman lie while investigating a crime? The answer is YES and I happen to agree. Can anyone lie other than the cop interrogating the suspect. No, they can't. If they do, I'll switch sides.








I'm a fan of freedom and liberty and I think that perchance the degree to which we allow the government to coerce and threaten until they get the punishment/charge they want has gone well over the line and now works against our very liberty this government was created to protect.
 

Ikari

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Yes, we all loves us that liberty.

But this is a narrow and specific topic. Can a policeman lie while investigating a crime? The answer is YES and I happen to agree. Can anyone lie other than the cop interrogating the suspect. No, they can't. If they do, I'll switch sides.
Can he? Yes, of course. Is it legal? Of course, the government isn't going to prosecute itself in its desire to dominate us all. Should they? Absolutely not. It's a form of coercion and entrapment.
 

specklebang

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As I posted earlier, I don't support entrapment. My support is limited to the interrogative process that follows an arrest. Can a cop then say they have a witness that doesn't exist. Of course. How is that entrapment or coercion?

Now, we also have lying cops and prosecutors who lie to the court. Whole 'nother problem. Outrageously wrong and they get away with it.



Can he? Yes, of course. Is it legal? Of course, the government isn't going to prosecute itself in its desire to dominate us all. Should they? Absolutely not. It's a form of coercion and entrapment.
 
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