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In Alabama, Is it legal for police to lie to me?

Posted by Andrew Segal | Feb 07, 2019 | 0 Comments

Is it legal for police to lie to me?

In Alabama, under many circumstances, it is completely legal for the police to lie to you.

The general rule in Alabama is that an officer acting in good faith can use deception trickery or artifice to detect crime.

The police will commonly use lies and deception in order to gain evidence.

It's very common for clients to tell me that the police told them that they had to come down to the station to speak with the officers. Even that statement is usually a lie.

Why? Because under our Constitution you have a right to remain silent and this means you don't have an obligation to answer whatever questions they may have about a crime criminal activity. Of course, if you get a call like that the first thing you need to do is contact an attorney.

But let's say somebody decides to go and speak with the police. The police aren't obligated to be honest with you. In other words, it's legal under Alabama law for the police to lie to you and tell you they have your fingerprints, your DNA at a crime scene. They can lie and tell you that you've been identified in video or by a witness or that an accomplice has sold you out. They convey all of these things and they can be complete absolute lies. Most of the time it's legal for them to do so.

Beyond the obvious ethical questions, this presents there are genuine practical concerns. He can lead to false confessions and innocent people going to prison. Let me give you a real example. While this didn't occur in Alabama, it illustrates my point.

A young teenage girl was headed home from a hamburger joint but she never made it. A few days later her body was found. She had been murdered, sexually assaulted and raped.

There were three young men who had been seen in the area and all of these young men voluntarily agreed to police questioning. After the police lied to them about nonexistent evidence all three of them confessed to the murder.

The problem was that they were all completely innocent. It wasn't until it spent a significant amount of time locked up the DNA exonerated them and the murderer was arrested. Because the police had convinced these young men by lying that they were going to be convicted each of these young men was led to believe that by confessing to a crime that they had not committed they would somehow help themselves out of the impossible situation that the police have falsely led them to believe they were in.

I want to be clear that not all lies by the police are permitted by the courts. In the case of the three young men, had it not been dismissed, a smart lawyer would've argued that the deception by the police was reasonably likely to produce a false confession and for that reason, their “confessions” shouldn't be allowed to be used against them. While it is fortunate these young men did not get convicted of a crime they never committed, had they never spoken with the police and been subjected to the lies by these officers, these young men may have never been arrested or incarcerated.

 Of course, every case is different; but you need to be very aware that you're subjecting yourself to grave danger if you try to talk your way out of a criminal offense even if you're completely innocent.

 Talk to a lawyer.

 Of course, if you find yourself in a legal jam in Alabama and you need our help, just give us a call at the number below.

About the Author

Andrew Segal

Andrew Segal is a former prosecutor who now represents the accused as a criminal defense attorney in Huntsville, Alabama area courts. Andrew graduated cum laude from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1982. During his time at Washington College of Law at American University, he discovered hi...

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