Can The Police Lie To You?

This is Dennis Boren, criminal defense attorney and former felony prosecutor. I want to talk to you today about whether or not the police can lie to you. Well, they can. Now, you may never find yourself in a situation where this is relevant, but just knowing this may help you help someone else.

YES, THEY CAN LIE

Now, the short answer is that police absolutely can lie. If you think about the movies, Donnie Brasco or Serpico, these are officers that are living lies. Their identity and their backgrounds and names of course. So it’s common that police officers use false identification and backstories when they’re working undercover.

They’re not going to walk in and say, “Hey, I’m a cop, and tell me what I want you to tell me.” Of course, that would be ridiculous. So yes, they absolutely can lie to you.

AN EXAMPLE OF A LIE

Sometimes, and I’ve seen this several times, they’ll say in an interview with a defendant, particularly if there’s a co-defendant, “Well, Bob said x, what do you say?” They’re hoping you’ll say something to incriminate Bob or yourself.

So, again, the police can lie to you. It may be morally repugnant, and undesirable, but that’s just the way it is. The law does not require them to always tell the truth. It’s an investigative tool.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO

If you have questions about this or anything related, please reach out to me. I’ll be happy to talk to you about it. And as I always say, when you’re interacting with a police officer, please turn on your audio app or your video app (video is better), and record what’s going on.

And also, while that recording is on, use these magic words: “I want to speak to an attorney before we talk any more.” That is called invoking your right, and when you invoke it, that is going to really build a wall as to what goes on after that point.


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