Law enforcement officers use interviews and interrogations to get information from criminal suspects. The two aspects of communication are important in deriving needed information. The two techniques are may be different in a number of ways. Interrogations are characterized by verbal aggressiveness while interviews engage a non-aggressive dialogue. Both the parties in an interview contribute to the conversation without prejudice. However, it seems that, in an interrogation, the verdict is already determined before the questioning begins. Sometimes officers engage in unorthodox tactics of eliciting information from suspects. Concerns have been raised about officers bullying suspects during interrogations. Interrogations may imply that the suspect is already convicted of the crime. Verbal aggressiveness in interrogation may affect the communication between an officer and a suspect. If the suspect is bullied, he may make false confessions to protect himself from any wrath. An interrogation is more confrontational than an interview. The two techniques may be applied under different circumstances and depending on the magnitude of the crime. An interrogation assumes that the suspect is guilty of something (Gordon and Fleisher, 2011).
. An interrogation assumes that accused is aware of his guilt. An interview treats the interviewee as innocent. An interview is basically non-accusatory. Both an interview and an interrogation aim at assessing the credibility of information given by a suspect. An interview does so by gathering information. Some of the questions are investigative in nature. Officer Stone asks Marty Alec “How did the blades get into your pants?” and “Did you go to other areas of the store?” These would lead the officer to some by eliciting behavioral responses. The investigator usually maintains demeanor and a non-accusatory tone. This happens even when one can tell that the accused has told a lie. The subject can exhibit indications of deception, but the interviewer must not act to suggest anything. Behavioral responses can also give the interviewer an idea regarding the information presented. If an investigator acts otherwise, the accused may develop reluctance in confessing. The subject is likely to cooperate and offer information without intimidation or threats. The more questions the subject answers, the more the investigator gets enlightened about the situation. In an interview, the investigator does not talk much. The subject talks for about 80 percent of the interview time while the investigator does only 20%. The investigator or officer keeps his questions succinct to attain a balance. Most of the questions asked elicit a narrative (Bartol and Bartol, 2006).
In an interrogation, the presumption is that the subject is guilty or is withholding some information. The aim of the interrogation is to persuade for truth. One of the tactics used by interrogators is threatening the subject with consequences of his actions then promising leniency if the accused testifies the truth. An interrogation does not entail accusatory questions. It is mostly a monologue where the investigator makes long statements persuading the accused to confess. The monologue addresses events which led to the accuse crime commission. It is recommended that the investigator should have a demeanor understanding the accused behavior. Psychologically, it is easy for an accused person can confess his crime if an investigator pretends to empathize (Milne and Bull, 1999). An investigator is not supposed to remind the subject the gravity of the offense or the punishment it attracts. Stating the punishment makes the subject conceal information by denying involvement or knowledge of some facts. If the statements made by the investigator make an impact on the subject, then a guilty suspect will exhibit some signs indicating his consideration to reveal the truth. The investigator may follow by asking a question that leads makes the subject admit his crimes. If the subject makes an admission of guilt, then persuasion ends. The investigator returns to asking non-accusatory questions and the subject makes the confessions. The subject reveals all details of the incident that he knows. If the interrogator does not distinguish between interrogation and interviewing, limited information will be gathered. The complexity that arises is the case of a guilty subject who utterly refuses to reveal any details. Active persuasion may be applied in such a case (Inbau, 2013).
The scenario involving officer Stone and Alec Marty in the shop is a case of an interview. It is clear that there was a dialogue between the two. Officer Stone posed questions and Alec answered them. Some of the questions asked by Officer Stone include "Why did you come to the store today?" "What were you shopping for?" "Do you have money?" The questions are leading to a particular direction. Officer Stone sought to link the theft or occurrence of events to Alec Marty. If it were an interrogation, the questions would have been long statements that imply that Alec stole the blades. In an interrogation, the officer would have formulated a statement like “Alec I guess you know how badly this can end if you are taken to court. I understand that the economy times are hard for anyone. Maybe you are jobless and needed to shave your beards because of an interview. Things sometimes happen that we do not understand. Maybe the temptation inside you was too strong that you could not resist. You do not have to go to jail just because of blades. All I need you to do is confess then apologize to the shop manager and I will pardon you” (Inbau, 2013). Officer Stone was also soft in nature as any typical interview requires. He first begins by asking Alec if he knows his Miranda rights (Milne and Bull, 1999).
All through the dialogue, Stone does use aggressive language as the case of interrogations. His persuasive questions are soft in nature. This is evident when he tells Marty "How much do you have with you? Empty your pockets, please." The officer is pleading with the subject in an attempt to verify claims that he had enough money to buy the watch are true. The tone of the officer is soft as tries to derive information Marty. In an interrogation, officer stone would have been harsh and making implicating statements on the subject. This is not the case in the shoplifting scenario. Officer Stone also appears to be gathering information from the questions he asks. This is unlike interrogations where information is revealed by implicating the subject. Officer Stone asks Marty what he went to do in the shop to know if indeed Marty went there to shop. Marty claims that he went to the shop to buy clothes and mentions having enough money to buy the blades if he wanted. Through the information gathering, it is established that Marty does not have money in his pocket as claimed. Officer Stone asks him to empty his pocket but he refuses to oblige. Another aspect of an interview that reveals itself in the shoplifting case is the structure of the questions. One question leads to another just like in a typical interview. An interrogation does not have structured question but rather question are developed from the mind to implicate the subject. There is a relationship between the questions asked by officer Stone, from the first one to the last. The officer applied a number of confession eliciting techniques to gather information from Marty. Officer Stone used leading questions to establish the truth in Marty's shoplifting case. The officer asks Marty about what he went to buy in the shop, which Marty claims were clothes. The clothes are in a different segment from where blades are racked. In the questions asked, Marty reveals to know where the blades are located in a retail shop whereas he said he was never in that section. Another leading question officer Stone asked Marty was if he had any money. Marty tells the officer that he has enough money to buy the 35 dollar blades. When asked to empty his pockets to show the money, Marty refuses to do so. The event can imply that Marty did not have any money in his pocket. He claimed to have money yet he could not reveal it to a police officer. How could have Marty known where the blades were kept if he had not been to that section? The leading questions work so effectively to implicate Marty.
Another technique applied by officer stone is macro to micro. The officer begins by asking general questions that any criminal suspect can be asked. He starts by asking Marty his Miranda rights, what he went to do in the shop, and eventually graduates to ask him about possessing the blades. The officer did not start by asking Marty directly if he had stolen the blades. The officer knew that beginning from the micro topics would elicit resistance from the subject. The first questions about rights were supposed to make Marty feel that the officer cares about his legal rights. The officer asks him if he needs an attorney or if he could proceed with the interview. Marty opts to answer the questions in the absence of an attorney (Inbau, 2013).
The officer also uses flatters to make Marty believe that he understands the situation. The officer tells Marty “I understand, maybe u needed the blades to shave and didn’t have enough money, maybe you lost your job and needed to shave" The officer makes a statement to make Marty realize that the policeman understands that people can find themselves in tough situations. This is a flatter since the law does not recognize ignorance as a defense. Even if Marty was in a difficult situation, stealing is not acceptable. He had options of borrowing or buy on hire purchase. He opted to steal.
The officer also feigned Incredulity. He did this by opposing Marty's statements so that he could defend himself. And by defending himself, Marty makes a number of contradictions as claiming he possesses money when he does not. Marty also reveals where the blades are kept in the store yet he initially claimed he was in a different segment of the shop. A technique that would have not succeeded in Marty’s case is the use of confidential bait. This is where an officer tells the subject to reveal all details to him and it shall remain confidential between them. From the way Marty answered the questions, we can deduce that it would have been difficult convincing him using confidential bait. He reiterated his innocence from the beginning to the end of the interview. Deliberate false statements would also have not worked in the situation. False statements are made with the intention of making the subject correct them. Marty was very precise in his answers and only answered what he was asked. Marty would have experienced difficulty in correcting a deliberate false statement made by the officer (Gordon and Fleisher, 2011).
Officer Stone’s techniques were important in exposing Marty’s guilt. The questions were structured and correlated to each other. It is the connection of the leading questions that revealed inconsistencies in Marty’s answers. The questions led Marty to contradict and implicate himself. Officer Stone embraced dialogue and made Marty believe that he had put himself in Marty’s shoes. Officer Stone also restrained from being aggressive, and that made Marty cooperative in answering questions. Each of the technique applied had its own unique strength. Officer Stone was well aware of the legal situation and that is why he initially asked Marty of his rights' knowledge. The officer also gave Marty options of acquiring an attorney to answer questions for him. If Marty could not hire one, then the state would offer one for him. Marty chose to answer the questions himself. It is unlawful for the police not to reveal the rights of a suspect at any given time. Officer Stone made Marty aware of the legal options he had and he chose one. Officer Stone would be supposed to provide sufficient evidence that Marty Stole or intended to steal the blades. The proof needs to be beyond a balance of probabilities. The evidence available to officer Stone is the security officer who saw Marty put the blades in his pocket. The blades were still in Marty's possession thus confirming that he stole them. However, Marty can claim in court that the blades were planted on him. The subject may also claim that he was under duress when answering a question thus posing another challenge to the technique applied by officer Stone. The likely defense by the subject can be countered by recording him. The statements made by the subject are recorded as proof and evidence against him. The interview should also be carried out in the presence of witnesses who can testify against the subject (Inbau, 2013).
If Marty Alec implicated his friend Joe then the case would take a new twist. Joe was not shop by the time the officer arrived. It would require that Joe is interviewed for the allegation made against him by Marty. After Joe is summoned, he would be interviewed separately to affirm the story. Implicating his friends means that they would all be accused of theft or aiding theft. Question to be asked to Joe include; were you at the shop at a stated time? Did you buy anything? Which segments in the shop did you visit? Do you know Marty Alec? Who is he to you? Were you shopping together? Did you give Marty Alec some merchandize to hold for you? Did he shop for anything?
Other techniques can still be applied by the author to elicit a confession. Assumed knowledge technique can be used to make the subject accept his mistakes. It is achievable by telling the subject a common or known example of such an incidence and the results it exhibited. This is done to influence the psychological thinking of the subject. In the case where the subject is unwilling to confess, some interrogation techniques can be integrated into an interview. The suspect can be offered a moral excuse. This can be done by affirming to the subject that considering the circumstances involved, his case may not attract any legal measures. In the case of Alec, his actions could have been justified by assuring him that due to the bad economy his actions are valid. Another theme that can be used is relocating the blame to someone else. The subject can be told that it is the fault of the store management in putting such items that are small in size on the rack. It may further be stated that such items attract customers and they may be tempted to pick them. Such justification can make the subject testify that indeed he was attracted in the same manner described. Alternative questioning techniques can be used too. This is applied when the subject is on the verge of confessing. The tactic here is to formulate to the subject, two main reasons that made him commit a crime. For example, asking Alec "Did you take the blades because you wanted to shave your beard or because your son was sent out of school with shaggy hair?" Such a question draws false dilemma. The subject may feel that the police or interviewer knows some facts. If the subject agrees to either one of the question then a confession is made. The interviewer may also engage the subject in non-related stories like family, politics and entertainment. This may be done to figure out the interests of the subject. The subject may also feel thatches is being treated fairly and confess (Lassister, 2006).
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Gordon, N. J., & Fleisher, W. L. (2011). Effective interviewing and interrogation techniques. Burlington, MA: Academic Press.
Inbau, F. E. (2013). Criminal interrogation and confessions. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Lassiter, G. D. (2006). Interrogations, confessions and entrapment. New York: Springer.
Milne, R., & Bull, R. (1999). Investigative interviewing: Psychology and practice. Chichester [u.a.: Wiley.