Based on Court Decisions What Can an Investigator Say During an Interrogation?

Written By: Joseph P. Buckley
May 01, 2024

In one of our prior Investigator Tips, Interrogation and Confession Judicial Decisions Organized by Subject Matter, we included a section entitled, Court decisions re appropriate/permissible investigator statements. Here are a few highlights of what the courts have stated to be acceptable investigator statements during an interrogation:

  • "these things happen, it is ok"; "we don't believe you had any intentions of doing it" and "a tragic accident occurred" US v. Hunter (2012) the US District Court, E.D. Virginia
  • "The easy way is, that you [are] up front and honest. The hard way is, you want to play the game. Okay. If you want to play the game... I have her story The statement that questioning could go the "easy way" or the "hard way" does not constitute a threat when the statement is viewed in context...., People v. Frith (2012) the Court of Appeal, Second District, California
  • "This is your opportunity to tell the truth ... 'cause if you were with somebody and they did something stupid that you didn't know about, that's on them. Let them deal with that but don't make this about you by lying about it because you're only, not only trying to help yourself, you're trying to help the other person...?" "If you sit in here and lie about it, if you know that somebody did something wrong like that and you lie about it for them, that's helping them after the fact. That could cause you problems down the road." People v. Flores (2012) the Court of Appeals, 4th District, CA
  • However, "a police officer's exhortations to tell the truth or assertions that a suspect is lying do not automatically render a resulting confession involuntary." ... the contrary, "we think it eminently reasonable that police officers challenge criminal suspects' questionable explanations in their pursuit of the truth. In the Interest of P.G. v. State (January 2015) the Court of Appeals of Utah
  • A promise to take the suspect home after questioning--not relating to ultimate charges or sentences for the suspected crime--is merely a collateral benefit that does not require automatic exclusion of the confession. Sparrow v. State (2013) the Court of Appeals of Georgia.
  • "There was no improper coercion here. It is no exaggeration to say that Sergeant Alexander came across more like a mentor than a police officer during the interview. He spoke about family, character, overcoming problems, accepting responsibility for wrongdoing, and becoming a better man. He urged Powell to "walk the righteous path," to "do the right thing," to "tak[e] control of your life." ... "But, at no point during the interview did either officer expressly or impliedly promise Powell that he might not be charged with, prosecuted for, or convicted of the murder if he cooperated. Under the circumstances, the officer's suggestion that it would be better for Powell to tell the truth and promptings to consider his future did not amount to a promise of leniency. ..People v. Powell (2012) Court of Appeal, First District, Division 3, California
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Court Decisions Re Appropriate Investigator Statements During an Interrgoation (136.531 KB)
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