My friend is a police officer and the lead investigator on a case. The preliminary hearing for the case was a few days ago. My understanding is that he arrived early before the court opened and the defendant that he testified against was there as well without his attorney who had not arrived yet. Can he get into trouble if he began questioning the defendant again outside the court and intimidating him into giving up facts and confessions and asking him to fill out a statement form? Can he face administrative discipline by the department or legal by the courts? Thank you
Criminal Defense Attorney
There are a lot of details which could be important here. The short answer, though, is "very probably" yes. Obviously as a sworn peace officer your friend should not be engaging in any abusive or dishonest tactics, period, whether or not the technically run afoul of the law or department procedure. That being said, it is very likely that this conduct ran afoul of any police department's administrative rules and regulations, and depending on the circumstances, might have been unlawful. It could also lead to 'legal trouble' in the sense that it would hurt the case against the defendant from the perspective of law enforcement. I would urge you to have the counsel for the defendant notified of this conduct, but that's another issue.
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Criminal Defense Attorney
I agree with Mr. Bouvier-Brown. Your friend may not get into legal trouble. But, he may get into trouble with his superiors at the police department. The actions you described sound prejudicial to the defendant and could complicate the case for the prosecution or even result in a dismissal. If that happens, I'm sure your friend will get an earful from the DA's office.
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Child Custody Lawyer
As an attorney, if this were my case, I would certainly have confronted this officer formally on the stand. Law Enforcement officers would best be careful talking to represented clients, especially before a court proceeding, inside the courthouse, before a prelim.
I would have a field day with your friend, and his case must be crap against the defendant if he had to be fishing on the day of the prelim.
Tell your friend to keep his oath to protect and serve and not rely on intimidation and bullying. Defense attorney's have a way of dealing with cheating and bullying officers. Its called the truth.
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