When a police officer is interrogating you or questioning you, even during something as simple as a traffic stop, you may assume that the officer is being honest. If that officer says that they clocked you driving 85 miles an hour, for instance, you assume that they actually did so.
But is that a safe assumption to make? Do police officers have to be honest with you while questioning you or making an arrest?
Officers are often allowed to lie
The reality is that police officers often lie to suspects, and it is legal for them to do so. They do not have to be honest with you during an interrogation. In fact, there have been cases in which officers have done this intentionally to try to manipulate suspects into incriminating themselves or giving a confession. Historically, this has been a trend with young offenders, raising concerns about the fairness of the criminal justice system.
There are some situations in which an officer could be prohibited from lying because doing so could violate your rights. For example, entrapment is where a police officer convinces someone to commit a crime they would not have committed otherwise – lying may be part of that process. If the officer lies and commits entrapment, that’s a valid defense for the accused. But outside of these types of specific examples, police officers have a lot of leeway regarding how truthful they have to be.
As a result, it’s usually best not to talk to the police on your own. Be sure you know exactly what legal options you have.