When a suspect is taken into custody in connection with a crime the interrogation of that person plays an important role in determining how the case will proceed. Because of the important role this process plays, readers may be surprised to learn that interrogation policies vary widely throughout the state. A survey recently conducted with law enforcement agencies in the state of Virginia revealed this information. It is the first such survey to be conducted in the United States.
More specifically, of 180 law enforcement agencies surveyed, 58 did not have any written policies. Another 11 would not provide policies to those conducting the survey. The 116 written policies received varied widely. It is worth noting that where juvenile interrogations are concerned, there is a model policy in place in the state of Virginia.
This matter is of interest to many because of the possibility that interrogations can lead to false confessions. Though someone who has never been in that situation might wonder how it is possible that an individual would confess to a crime he or she did not commit, it happens more than you might think.
The person being interrogated can cave to the pressure of going over the same thing for a long period of time. A confession, even when it is false, tends to lead to a conviction. This can severely impact the life of the convicted individual, depending on the crime even leading to life in prison.
Some individuals are calling for policies to be drafted by law enforcement throughout the state of Virginia. In addition, some believe that the process should be videotaped as it would make it easier to determine whether the person interrogated was admitting to things they did not actually do.
False confessions given in the course of interrogations is one reason why those who find that they are in that situation should not answer anything without the assistance of a lawyer.
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Survey: Virginia law enforcement agencies lack written interrogation policies,” Frank Green, Sept.7, 2014