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PSYC 2400
Jenelle Power

Police investigations ch.3 Confession - Large number of criminal cases are solved by confessions - Voluntary confessions are admissible in court - Confessions are “a prosecutor’s most potent weapon” (Kassin, 1997, p. 221) - Confessions carry a lot of weight in the criminal justice system • Very influential Interrogations - Police interrogation:Aprocess whereby the police interview a suspect for the purpose of gathering evidence and obtaining a confession - Used to be very coercive - Brown v. Mississippi (1936)- first case changing the rule that it was okay to use torture, everyone confessed through torture but the judge said confessions weren’t admissible because of how they were obtained - Miranda v. Arizona (1966)- Miranda was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery, he confessed, was found guilty, appealed because he said he didn’t know he had the right to remain silent when he made his confession, so he revoked his confession, but he was convicted anyhow For a confession to be admissible in Canada… - Similar to the U.S Miranda rights - Must be voluntary - Individual must: • be competent • understand Charter rights not to speak to police if they choose • have right to speak to lawyer Reid model - Involves 3 stages: • Gather evidence • Conduct a non-accusatorial interview to assess guilt (detecting deception)  Non-accusatorial stage is where the police officers determine if they think the person is guilty • Conduct an accusatorial interrogation to obtain a confession (9 step procedure) Interrogation room - Suspect in corner • Makes them feel powerless and have no personal space Step 1: Direct Positive Confrontation - Immediate confrontation about his/her guilt - Certain and confident - Can fabricate/pretend they have evidence (even if none exists) - Pause, observe, repeat confrontation - Passive reaction = Deception 2 kinds of suspects 1. Emotional 2. Non-Emotional Feels Distress /Remorse Nothing in particular InterrogatorApproach Sympathetic FactualAnalysis Appeal to… Conscience Reasoning / Common Sense - Minimization (soft) vs. maximization (scare tactics) techniques - Emotional= minimum, non-emotional= maximum Step 2: Theme Development (emotional) - Possible themes for emotional suspects: • Anyone in situation would have done same • Minimize crime’s moral seriousness • Suggest morally acceptable reasons • Condemn others (e.g., victim) • Praise & flattery • Suspect’s role in crime has been exaggerated - Giving them something that is easier to admit to - Allows suspect to justify, rationalize or excuse the crime Step 2: theme development (unemotional) - Possible themes for unemotional suspects: • Catch them in a lie • Get suspect associated with crime scene • Non-criminal intent behind act • No point in denying involvement • Play one co-offender off the other - More direct • Ex: get them to admit they were at the crime scene but maybe not at the time of the offence, so you have something to scare them with Step 3: Do Not Allow Denials - Innocent • Spontaneous • Forceful • Direct • Eye-contact • Leans forward in chair • Assertive posture - Guilty • Hesitant • Defensive • Qualified - Police officer also doing a lot of talking. Person cannot say much and sometimes can’t ask for a lawyer - Problems because the innocent may still be scared so might not act this way • Especially children or handicap Steps 4: Overcoming Objections - Turning denial around to make it sound like the person admitted to doing it - Police overcomes the person’s objections to the charge to a point they are withdrawn/quiet Steps 5: Procurement and Retention of Suspect’sAttention - Reduce psychological distance (gets closer to the person) and also can be touching the shoulder or patting the back • So as to not tuning out Step 6: Handling Passiveness - Acting friendly, as if trying to help - Exhibit sympathy and understanding - Suspect about to give in • Focus on central theme • Crying/Blank stare = due to guilty and suspect seems ready to confess - Make eye-contact • Increases stress level Step 7:Alternative Questions - Present 2 options • Best case • Worse case • “Face-saving” option - Most important part of Reid technique - Timing is critical - Person more likely to admit to “best case” scenario • Perceived as beginning of confession Step 8: Orally Relate Offence Details - Get full details of the crime - Might introduce a new person - Increase stress level - New person doesn’t know anything so the suspect may be more willing to admit to the “best case” scenario to make sure they fill the new interrogator in Step 9: Convert Oral Confession into Written Confession - Written confession is more incriminating - Evidence for trail Problem: Investigator Biases - Assumption of guilt • Ask more guilt-presumptive questions • More coercive • More persistent • More pressure • Suspect gets defensive – looks guilty - Determined to get confession Confirmation Bias - Tendency to notice and to look for what confirms your beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one's beliefs • E.g., full moon • E.g., “This always happens” - Ex: assuming guilt • Only looking for things that support your opinion Problem: Detecting Deception? - Reid technique based on deception detection • People can’t do it! - There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that police, trained or not, can distinguish truths and lies simply by observing a person’s interview behavior - However, police believe they are more accurate - Training makes people more confident, but that doesn’t mean they’re accurate Problem: Suspect Vulnerabilities - Current mental state - Cognitive deficits - Drugged/Intoxicated - Sleep Deprivation - Compliance & suggestibility - State of anxiety - Reading ability - Understanding of legal rights False confessions - False confession: Intentionally fabricated or not based on actual knowledge of the fact
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