Hi, I’m Ben Schwartz,
Today we are going to answer a question from Bob in Wilmington, Delaware. Bob wrote-in and he said, “Can you please do a video on this topic? I understand that the police can lie to suspects to get him to confess. Can suspects lie to the police?”
It’s a really good question, and I have to tell you Bob, that there’s a double standard in America.
There is one standard for police and there’s another standard for regular citizens.
I was thinking about your question and I think it is a very insightful question. It’s not something that I really sort of thought about before, but yes, the police can lie to suspects. The police lie all the time. Think about some of the concepts that we have for police work. Think about undercover police officers, what does an undercover cop do? An undercover cop goes and infiltrates the mob and becomes a ‘made’ member. An undercover cop goes out and maybe buys drugs from a drug dealer, poses as a drug user in order to get Intel, in order to get information about criminal activity. Those are things where you’re living a lie if you’re doing that.
I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’m not saying it’s immoral. I’m saying that it’s not honest. It’s not truthful. You are pretending to be something that you’re not. Maybe it’s for the greater good of society. Maybe it’s your job. Maybe you’ve got reasons why you do it and maybe the courts have reasons why they allow it, but it’s not honest, it’s a lie.
Police lie to suspects all the time. In our cases that we handle, police will round up 2 or 3 people that they suspect have committed a crime and they all separate them. They will interrogate them separately and tell each one, well your buddy ratted you out. Your buddy told us everything that happened. That’s how we have this information and if you don’t talk, then you’re going away forever. You’re going away for a long time and there’s nothing we can do to help you.
Police will tell our clients in these interrogations, just help yourself, we’re here to help you. You confess, it’s going to help you. We will help you get a better sentence. We will intervene with the prosecutor. The police have no power to do these things. They lie to suspects all the time to get them to confess. Is it right? Is it wrong? That’s really for you to decide, but the interesting thing is, there is a double standard. The police can lie to you. You cannot lie to the police. You should never lie to the police.
Right now, I am in one of my offices in Delaware. I’m in the Dover, Delaware office, I just hopped on the computer and pulled-up the Delaware code and looked at the law as it relates to people lying to the police. There is a Delaware code provision, Title 11, § 1245A – Providing a false statement to law enforcement. It’s either a class G felony or class A misdemeanor. Essentially, the law says if you provide a false statement to the police, either you’re committing a felony or you’re committing a misdemeanor, either way it’s illegal. This is a law, that not only is a state-level law, in the state of Delaware, it’s a law where I believe every state has a law of a similar nature.
In fact, if you look at municipalities, you look at towns and cities, they have municipal laws relating to providing false statements to law enforcement officers too. I have been practicing law for a long time, for almost 20 years. I have handled a lot of criminal cases in that time, many felony cases, many misdemeanor cases, and it’s never really occurred to me until I read this email inquiry, that there is this double standard. I think it’s very strange.
I don’t think we should have a double standard. I don’t think that you should treat people differently whether they are law enforcement officers or not law enforcement officers.
I would be interested to know what you think. Send me an email and let me know what you think, or leave a comment in the comments section to this video. I’m interested to know what people think. If you are a law enforcement officer, a police officer, probation officer, or prosecutor, I’m interested to know your thoughts on this subject. How do you feel if you’re an undercover cop, or if you’re a detective, and your interrogating suspects and you’re lying to them? You know that you’re not telling them the truth. How do you feel? Do you feel like you’re doing the right thing? Do you feel like it’s not the right thing and you want to get out of doing that type of work?
I’m interested to know what folks out there have to say about this. If you’re a defendant, or you’ve been a defendant in a criminal case and you’ve had law enforcement lie to you. Or if in the past, you had a case yourself where you were arrested and charged with this crime or a similar crime in another state, what happened in your case? Did you have a successful result? I think it’s an interesting topic and why is there a double standard?
This has been another Ten with Ben episode and I hope you found it interesting and informative. If you have questions about the law, law practice, or legal rights that you would like me to do a video about, send me an email below.
Thanks for watching!