Omaha drug charge, DUI, theft, and criminal defense attorney, explains how to undermine the validity of a confession through cross-examination of the detective
If the charges against you are based on a confession or incriminating statements you made while in police custody, your Omaha criminal defense attorney’s first line of attack will be a motion to suppress. If the judge denies the motion, all is not lost. At trial, skillful cross-examination of the detective who obtained the confession may carry the day. In most of these cases, some or all of the following topics are ripe for cross-examination:
1. Detectives receive extensive training in the psychology of interrogation.
Police detectives today, particularly those in large cities like Omaha, receive extensive training in the psychology and methods of interrogation. They may spend 40+ hours learning techniques that have proven effective in breaking down a suspect’s resistance. These techniques are much more sophisticated than general, one-size-fits-all guidelines; they comprise a comprehensive, detailed, step-by-step interrogation method, specifically geared to overcome the defenses of a variety of personality types. The goal of cross-examination is to expose this method and the level of training behind it by having the detective confirm that:
- He did, in fact, receive this type of training;
- He learned what tone to take with a suspect at various stages of the interrogation;
- He learned the most effective way to begin the interrogation (i.e., with a direct confrontation of guilt) and how to secure a signed confession at the end of the interrogation
- He learned specific methods for overcoming a suspect’s resistance, including, how to overcome denials of guilt, how to deal with a suspect who withdraws, and how to capitalize on any signs that the suspect is resigned to his fate.
2. Detectives isolated the suspect.
The first step in the quest for an admission of guilt is to remove the suspect from familiar surroundings and place him in a less supportive environment, like the interrogation room at the police station. The interrogation room is equipped for one purpose: to get a confession or, at the very least, to get the suspect to make enough incriminating or contradictory statements to justify bringing criminal charges. Through cross-examination, the defense attorney can give the jurors a mental picture of what this room looks like and the suffocating sense of isolation it creates. The detective’s testimony should reveal that:
- The room is small and cramped;
- The room is bare and free of all distractions (e.g., pencils, pens, paper clips, clocks, police paraphernalia);
- The detectives control the room. Nobody enters or leaves without their approval;
- The detectives worked to keep the suspect isolated for as long as possible by putting off his requests to make a phone a call or to have a lawyer present.
3. Detectives are highly motivated to obtain a confession before the suspect is arraigned.
At some point following arrest, every suspect must be turned over to the court for arraignment, at which point the suspect will be appointed a lawyer who will immediately advise his client to stop talking to the police. Consequently, the detective usually has only a matter of hours to talk to a suspect before the window of opportunity closes forever. Cross-examination can be effective in showing jurors how the detectives tried to turn this ticking clock to their advantage by:
- Questioning the suspect for hours, even all night long, without a break;
- Suggesting that the suspect’s opportunity to help himself is slipping away; that he should talk now, while the detectives are still able to influence events in his favor;
- Intimating that they have charging authority, or any authority to drop the charges or have the charges reduced;
- Implying that, by exercising his right to remain silent, the suspect is damaging his case.
4. Detectives failed to record the entire interrogation
Why do police officers so often choose not to record (audiotape or videotape) a suspect’s confession? The answer is simple: The detectives expect jurors to trust them. In response to questioning by the prosecutor, the detective will testify about how skilled he is at evaluating whether a person is telling the truth, and how during the interrogation he assessed the suspect’s credibility by observing the suspect’s body language, his facial expressions, and his tone of voice. On cross examination, the defense attorney must try to reveal the arrogance of the officer’s position and ask why the jurors were not allowed to make these credibility determinations on their own. This may be enough to cause some jurors to question what actually happened in the interrogation room.
5. Signed “confession” is not trustworthy
If a confession was reduced to writing, a sharp criminal defense attorney can raise issues on cross-examination about the untrustworthiness of the document. In most cases, the detective can be questioned about these facts:
- The defendant did not choose the words used in the statement.
- The defendant did not type that statement.
- The defendant did not decide what to leave in and what to leave out of the statement.
- The statement amounts to nothing more than a very brief summary of everything the defendant said during the course of a very long interrogation.
- The defendant signed the statement after a lengthy interrogation (perhaps in the middle of the night) and was likely too resigned and overcome with mental fatigue to challenge the detectives.
Contact Omaha drug charge, DUI, theft, criminal defense attorney / lawyer
If the charges against you are built on a confession of guilt or other incriminating statements you made to the police, you face an uphill battle. An Omaha criminal defense attorney, with extensive experience cross-examining police detectives, will be your strongest ally in this fight., please submit the Free Case Evaluation form on this page for getting consultation.
Omaha drug charge, DUI, theft, criminal defense attorney / lawyer