Mistakes Innocent People Make During Sex Assault Interrogations

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After handling sex assault defense cases in Omaha, Nebraska, for decades, we’ve noticed that those who go down to the police station for an interview do not know what to expect nor do they know their rights. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding could result in sex assault arrest in Omaha.

The danger that an innocent person faces when going to a police interview in a sex assault case is that the innocent person does not understand the seriousness of the allegation nor the risks involved in speaking without a lawyer present.

Those of us who grew up in Omaha remember learning about Officer Friendly. We were taught that the police officer was our friend and to trust them. While this is true in many instances, the target of the investigation is not the friend of a police officer. When an accuser names a suspect, that suspect is not presumed innocent by the police. The law in Omaha allows police to use tactics during sexual assault interrogations that most people are unaware of.

Here are a few mistakes individuals make when being interrogated by law enforcement.

  • Not contacting a lawyer first – When some people learn they are accused of sex assault, they believe they can talk their way out of it. Or in some cases, somebody who has been accused of rape is too embarrassed to contact an attorney or let anyone know. However, what you say during a sex assault investigation could mean the difference between being arrested and being allowed to leave.
    • First and foremost, anyone accused of sexual assault or any other sex crime has the absolute right to contact an attorney. They have the right to remain silent and not answer questions about the accusation. The number 1 mistake that innocent people who are accused of sexual assault make is that they talk their way into an arrest.
    • A standard to arrest. The standard to arrest is probable cause. This means police do not need to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt to make an arrest. In order to arrest, police simply need to establish well garnered facts that a crime occurred and the accused admitted it. Often during sexual assault interrogations the inexperienced innocent person will provide details and facts to police that corroborate the accuser’s story. Even though the accused will deny that any sexual assault occurred, facts provided in an interrogation may help build a case against himself.  The police are not looking for reasons to let you go, they are looking for reasons to detain you.
  • Assuming police must tell you the truth during a sex assault interrogation at the police office – In Omaha, it is common for law enforcement to not be truthful with the accused in order to get the accused to make a harmful admission. They may claim to have additional evidence or witnesses, or tell you that another party already told them the information.
  • Believing you can lie to the police – Lying to the police is a crime. Furthermore, any lies told to the police can be used against the accused later at trial. In short, police can lie to you in a sex assault investigation in Omaha, but you cannot lie to them. Often the best way to deal with this is to contact a lawyer immediately or invoke your 5th Amendment right to remain silent.
  • Thinking you will be able to talk your way out of it – Innocent people often believe that if they give a reasonable explanation, they can make the accusation go away. This is not necessarily true. The belief that if you tell the police what they want to hear then they will let you go is flawed. When police are interrogating the accused, they have usually spoken to several other witnesses, confirmed multiple facts, and may be in a position to make the arrest prior to the interrogation.
  • Assuming they must let you go if you weren’t Mirandized – This is not true. Police are only required to give Miranda warnings during a custodial interrogation. In Omaha, police will often invite the accused down to the police station to “clear the matter up.” The common result is through the use of interrogation techniques, police convince the accused that they have not yet made a decision about the accused person’s guilt.

The accused must understand that the presumption of innocence that we have in the courtroom does not exist in the police station. It is not the police officer’s job to prove your innocence. The police officer’s job is to solve crimes and make arrests. In many instances, by the time police interview the suspect, they plan to make an arrest. In these situations, police do not have to Mirandize before the interrogation because the accused is not in custody and is free to leave at any time. However, there are also situations where police will tell an individual that he is free to leave at the beginning of the interrogation, but when the individual asks to leave police arrest him.

The key is to understand your Miranda rights now, prior to the advisement of your rights by the police. You should know that even if you are not in custody, anything you say can and will be used against you in trial. In some instances where the accused is in custody and not Mirandized, the statement may be excluded. However, in most cases the best course of action is to not make a statement without a lawyer present. One final cautionary tale is that police obtain interrogation evidence before, during, and after an interrogation. There have been several cases where the accused makes incriminating statements while the police officer is outside the interrogation room. In other instances, after the interrogation and arrest, the accused gets on a jail phone where the phone is recorded and makes an incriminating statement to a family member or loved one.

  • Believing that your statements are confidential or privileged – Jail calls, text messages, and conversations with parents, girlfriends, and close friends are not protected by a privilege. On the other hand, anything the accused says to his/her attorney is privileged so long as there is an expectation of privacy during the conversation. When you are facing an arrest and need to communicate, the only communication that may be helpful to your case and not harmful is the communication with your attorney.

If you have been asked to go to the police station for an interview or if you are facing sexual assault charges in Omaha, you may be in the most important battle of your life. Berry Law’s experienced sex assault attorneys in Omaha can help ensure that your rights are protected.

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