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Can a police officer lie to you?

Germantown, MD |

I met with a detective about a fight. We had a nice cordial, friendly meeting and i told him my story and i signed the papers. He said no matter what this would be a civil small claims lawsuit not a criminal. and that now after i signed the report that this would close the case. He even gave me his personal cell phone number to reach him for copies of the police report if i ever did get into a civil lawsuit with the guy i fought. This was all back in march, the interview. the fight happened on january 1, 2013. It is now may and i found out that the detective put this case up for 2nd degree assault is he allowed to do this without notifying me at all. Can he say to me that theres no criminal intent and that the case is closed but then secretly put this up for 2nd degree assault?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. A police officer is required under the law to tell the truth when he makes a sworn statement, such as a statement in an affidavit, or testimony in court. Morals and honor require him to tell the truth otherwise, but that does not always happen. In my 27 years of practicing law, I have seen many situations similar to yours. My most memorable was where the detective told my client they would let him go home if he just told the whole story. They let him go, but arrested him the next day. The Indiana Supreme Court has repeatedly approved of police detectives lying to obtain a confession. See Pierce v. State, 761 N.E.2d 821, 824 (Ind. 2002), found at http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/archive/01290202.trb.html; Kahlenbeck v. State, 719 N.E.2d 1214, 1217-18 (Ind. 1999), found at http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/archive/11199902.trb.html.
    I recommend you consult with a local attorney to discuss the specific facts of your case and learn what options you might have. I advise you not to talk to anyone about your situation, unless it is an attorney.

    I have taken no action on your problem other than to review your question. I want to confirm that no attorney-client relationship has been created between our firm and you in connection with this matter, and that nothing in this response is legal advice to you. As you may know, the legislature and the courts can change the law in ways that may affect the strength of your case. In addition, the circumstances of your case may change. Because we do not represent you, we cannot keep track of, and inform you about, any change in the law. I must warn you that there are time limits for raising certain claims and defenses. Without taking more time to review your case, this firm cannot properly advise about those deadlines. You may lose your claims and defenses if they are not filed in court within the time allowed. I would advise you to retain the services of an attorney as soon as possible.


  2. While police may not lie about your Miranda rights, they may mislead you about their investigation, in order to get you to talk. An attorney can assist you with evaluating the prosecution's case, any defenses that you might have, and any plea offer that might be made, so that you can decide whether to plea bargain or go to trial. If you were to be found guilty, then an attorney can assist you with presenting mitigation, allocution, and a recommendation for a more lenient sentence. and a recommendation for a more lenient sentence. Consider seeking a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Beware that online posts are not confidential. If somehow the prosecution were to find your post, then it might be used in evidence against you.

    Information in the reply is provided as a public service. It is neither a comprehensive statement of the law nor legal advice, and no one should rely on it as such. If you have a legal problem or question, you should consult with an attorney, who can investigate the particular circumstances of your situation. Responding to a post does not constitute legal representation. I am not your lawyer, until we make an agreement and I receive my fee. Beware that posts and replies are not confidential. Anyone can read them.


  3. Yes, a police officer can lie to a person of interest in order to obtain a statement from the accused. At trial, the defense is permitted to explore whether the lie makes the accused person's statement, or any part of the statement, not relevant or not a reliable indicator of guilt. Further,, the officer is required to give the accused Miranda warnings as soon as the conversation turns into "custodial interrogation." Your attorney can explore all the circumstances of your conversation and written statement to determine whether you have any basis for excluding them as evidence or arguing to the jury that they are not reliable proof of guilt.

    I note that you asked another question in this forum concerning whether a polygraph test could be used at your trial. Your case is serious and you need to retain an attorney. This forum is not a substitute for an attorney. Further, the questions in this forum are public and can be seen by witnesses, prosecutors and police. Factual details that you provide here may assist the prosecution in its investigation. You need to save the details for your attorney and stop posting them here. I wish you well.

    This is not legal advice it is general information intended to guide you to speak directly with a lawyer who is licensed to practice law in Maryland.


  4. Police officers may not lie: (1) when testifying at trial; (2) when "swearing out" an affidavit; or (3) when advising you of your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights ("Miranda" rights).

    Police officers can and do lie when they are investigating a crime or interrogating suspects. These lies are used to extract inculpatory information that can and will be used at a subsequent trial.

    Despite what the police tell you during an interview, they do not have your best interests in mind. They are agents of the executive branch, employed for the sole purpose of preventing, investigating, and prosecuting crimes. You are entitled to have an attorney present during custodial interrogations-- ask for your lawyer before you answer any questions.

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