The suspect claims the police "softened him up" by acting friendly - was his confession coerced?

Written By: Reid
Apr 15, 2011
In the Reid Technique one of our central principles is to always treat the suspect with respect, and to express empathy and understanding towards the suspect's situation. In the case of Sanchez v. McDonald (March 2011) the defendant claimed that his confession was coerced because "the detectives 'softened him up' by acting friendly." In their opinion the US District Court, California, stated that "The Court is unaware of any Supreme Court authority where an officer building rapport with a suspect in a friendly manner would cause a resulting confession to be considered involuntary. Petitioner states the detectives informed him that cooperation would be to his benefit, but their remarks were not threatening or coercive. Such questioning certainly does not violate the Constitution." Click here for the complete decision.

It is interesting to note in the case R. v. Oickle, (2000), the lower court suggested that the interrogator's understanding demeanor improperly abused the suspect's trust. The Supreme Court of Canada disagreed stating, "In essence, the court [of appeals] criticizes the police for questioning the respondent in such a gentle, reassuring manner that they gained his trust. This does not render a confession inadmissible. To hold otherwise would send the perverse message to police that they should engage in adversarial, aggressive questioning to ensure they never gain the suspect's trust, lest an ensuing confession be excluded."