Deception And The Investigating Officer Essay

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Deception by the Investigating Officer in the Investigative, Interrogative, and Testimonial Processes
Anita L. Levy
AJS/532 Ethics in Justice and Security

June 8, 2015
Professor Melba Pearson
Deception by the Investigating Officer in the Investigative, Interrogative, and Testimonial Processes Deception involves “acting in such a way which leads another person to believe something that you, yourself, do not believe to be true” (Alonso-Quecuty, 1992). Deception can occur in any or all of the three stages of the detecting process which include, investigation, interrogation and court testimony. Each stage is subject to increasingly tough normative constraints (Skolnick, 1999). In the investigation phase of a case police are permitted by the courts to engage in deception and they are trained to do just that. The method that they use may include wiretaps, informants, undercover agents, and the possession and sale of illegal materials or substances (Skolnick, 1999). The line between what is acceptable and what is not is that of entrapment. The deception may be employed up to the point that an “agent of the government initiates a court of action that induces an otherwise innocent person to commit a crime in order that the government may then prosecute” (Skolnick, 1999). It is being recognized that these deceptive practices will be used against those who are reasonably suspected of engaging in criminal behavior or otherwise acting in an unjust manner, to include people who are willing to do anything they can to avoid being detected and made accountable for their crimes (Skolnick, 1999). Criminals have every reason to expect that force and deception will be used against then, as they employ it in their own escape. The police officer in this situation must take several things into account including what sorts of methods are permissible and what the costs are. Skolnick suggests that judicial acceptance of deception in the investigative process has a positive effect on the moral acceptance of the same methods by detectives in the interrogation and testimony phases as well (p. 83). When you look at the interrogation phase, the deception tactics vary, but they represent the hostile nature of this phase of a case. The goal of an interrogation or criminal interview is to obtain factual information about a crime and the confession of the person responsible for it. Although some methods seem clearly illegal especially those that deny or tend to distort the meanings of the Miranda rules that guarantee at least certain minimum conditions of conduct (Skolnick, 1999). Then you have others that may take on the form of twisting the seriousness of the crime, engaging in victim blame, or suggesting to a murder suspect, that the victim is still alive. Other opportunities for deception include threats or promises such as telling a suspect that confessing will result in less jail time or engaging in the good cop/bad cop method of questioning. Also fabricating claims of evidence, like appealing to a suspect’s conscience, are perfectly legal methods of deception (Skolnick, 1999). There are a number of reasons that testimonial deception may be undertaken, including cases where the motivation is to hide criminal behavior on the part of the investigator or cover up investigative incompetence. There exists a large number is cases where the motivation is a desire to secure a conviction of those who are factually or morally guilty and avoid apparent deficiencies in the criminal justice system (Skolnick, 1999). The task of police officers is to deal with factual guilt, not legal culpability, and many officers are frustrated by the exclusion of evidence on the basis of a technicality or a lost case on the grounds of unreasonable doubt on the part of the jury. The police believe they have done their job and desire it concluded appropriately, when criminals get what is coming to them. Then they can say that society is