Police Officer Is Not Obligated To Be Truthful At All Times

Interviewer: Are police officers allowed to lie? Do police officers ever lie to someone to try to get them to admit to something?

Glen Malia: Do police officers ever lie? Didn't I just talk about the undercover prostitute? The answer to the question is a police officer is not obligated to tell the truth all the time. The only time they're legally required to tell the truth to a large extent is when it's under oath, just like everybody else. If they testify, they're obligated to tell the truth. If they're doing an affidavit to try to get a search warrant, they better be truthful, but they can mislead people.

A Judge May Determine Whether a Statement is Admissible or Not Based on Whether Misleading Tactics were Employed to Get that Statement

In terms of the questioning scenario, courts have a lot of ability to determine whether or not a statement would be admissible against a defendant, and some of the facts they would look at and some of the cases you see in the front pages where maybe the defendant gave a statement and the courts overturn and throw out the statements are where basically the person is kept, the police are questioning him for 24 straight hours and stuff like that, and they finally break him or something like that and the court will look at whether or not the police officers used misleading statements to try to get him to make an incriminating statement under various factors.  The answer to the question is, "Are they obligated to always tell the truth?" No. Can they lie to you? Can they say when they have two different people in two different rooms, say, "Well, your buddy is ratting you out. You better tell us your side of the story. Otherwise, you're going down," like we see on TV shows. Yes, they can do that. Then if they've gone too far, it's up to the courts to decide if they've gone too far.

People Don’t Always Know When They’re Being Investigated by Police For a Criminal Charge

Interviewer: How does someone know that they're under criminal investigation and have been charged or will be charged for a crime typically?

Glen Malia: They don't always. They don't always. Sometimes you can get a clue. The police will contact you and say, "Someone has made a complaint saying 'X.' Will you come down? We would like to have you come down and give your side of the story." That happens sometimes. Some police agencies actually do that. They watch the investigator charge before they file charges. Sometimes the first thing the person knows about is that they get arrested. Generally speaking, in state court, in state crimes, the first contact that the police even have with the charge is when they're making the arrest.

Generally the First Time that an Individual Finds Out that They’re Being Investigated is at the Time of Their Arrest

They get called to the department store because the person that got arrested got stopped shoplifting or they come to the scene, they have a traffic stop, the person is driving drunk, or they come to a house because the wife called 911 saying, "My husband is beating me." Or someone comes to the police station and says, "'So-and-so' did this to me." They get that information and then the charges get filed and the person gets arrested. Obviously, the white collar crimes that we briefly talked about, the fraud type of crimes, the business theft, the embezzlements, where a businessman, over the course of years, the bookkeeper for over the course of years has been stealing from the business. What you sometimes see is the treasurer of a Little League has been stealing and stuff like that. Those sometimes there's a level of investigation beforehand that's done by the police and/or the Prosecutor's Office, but average, usually you do not know until you get arrested.

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