Police Deception During Sex Assault Investigations
It’s Okay to Lie if You’re a Police Officer
The target of a sex assault investigation is not presumed innocent. While the presumption of innocence occurs in the courtroom, it does not occur during police investigations. Once police identify an alleged perpetrator as a target of the sex assault investigation, police techniques used during interrogation are used to get convictions.
One technique law enforcement uses during sex assault investigations is lying. This to the accused to get the accused to corroborate the alleged victim’s story.
Lies Police Tell
Some of the more common lies Berry Law attorneys have heard during sex assault interviews and interrogations are as follows:
- We have your DNA;
- The whole assault was captured on surveillance or the accuser’s phone;
- Multiple witnesses saw this happen; and
- We believe you, but we just want to get this all cleared up.
Why Do Investigators Lie?
Sex assault investigations are serious matters. Any person convicted of sex assault not only faces prison time, but also sex offender registry and a felony conviction. The police technique of lying to get information is disgusting but widely accepted. In fact, using deception during an interrogation is considered an effective investigative technique in most law enforcement circles.
The Double Standard
Unfortunately, if the accused lies to law enforcement during interrogation or interview, the consequences are severe. Not only will the accused’s lies be used against him or her at trial, but they can also result in additional criminal charges including:
- Providing false information to a law enforcement officer; and
- Obstruction of justice.
While the accused may assert his or her 5th Amendment right to remain silent at any point, lying to the police is never a good idea. As the old saying goes, “nobody talks and everybody walks.” This statement applies not only to the guilty but also to the innocent.
Often during sex assault investigations, law enforcement knows that the accused is not going to admit that he or she sexually assaulted anyone. Police will instead try to corroborate enough details from the victim’s story to arrest the accused.
Some seemingly innocuous information that may be used against the defendant:
- He or she knows where the alleged victim lives;
- He or she was in a dating relationship with the alleged victim; or
- He or she recently had sex with the alleged victim.
While these details may seem insignificant, they are crucial to an investigator. While the sexual assault allegation alone is enough to arrest, prosecutors often don’t feel comfortable filing charges they can’t prove.
Often police will knowingly lie to the accused to get him or her to clarify the story, which may contain details that would corroborate the alleged victim’s account, even if the accused vehemently denies that any sexual interaction took place.
In many instances where law enforcement cannot conclusively prove the sex assault, they may leave the investigation open for years in hopes of attaining more evidence.
Furthermore, the situation is especially dangerous for students because they may face disciplinary action under Title IX even if law enforcement determines there is not enough evidence to prosecute.
Berry Law has represented multiple students at the University of Nebraska and Creighton who have faced Title IX and disciplinary actions for alleged sexual misconduct stemming from a sexual assault complaint.
If you or a loved one have been falsely accused of sexual assault, contact the relentless, experienced criminal defense attorneys at Berry Law.