Police Interrogation Using the Reid Technique

How does the Reid Technique work when used for police interrogation? Does the Reid Technique illicit false confessions?

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A Technique to Manipulate a Suspect into a Confession

The most popular method of police interrogation is called “The Reid Technique.” It was developed in 1974 by John E. Reid. Many critics of the technique, including the American Civil Liberties Union. Critics say this form of police interrogation technique elicits unreliable and false confessions.

Being interrogated by the police is one of the scariest times for a person suspected of a crime. It is also one of the most critical times to stay quiet and ask for an attorney. The problem is that most people are intimidated by the police (which is what they want) and will say just about anything to make the interrogation stop. Do not answer questions and ask for an attorney – these are the most important things to remember if you face police interrogation. Make no mistake, if you submit to police interrogation, you risk a false claim that you make a confession.

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The 9 Steps of the Reid Technique

The Reid Technique has nine steps that effectively procure confessions during police interrogations; however, many of the obtained concessions are false or untruthful.

  • Confrontation: detective presents the facts of the case and the evidence against the suspect. Evidence could be real or made up. The detective sounds confident and invades the suspect’s space. If there is fidgeting, the detective will think he is on the right track and continues.
  • Theme Development: interrogator creates a story about why the suspect committed the crime. Interrogator watches body language – is he nodding his head? Paying closer attention? If so, he will continue. If not, he will try another theme. The interrogator speaks in a soft and non-threatening voice to give the suspect a false sense of security.
  • Stopping Denials: detective will interrupt denials of guilt. Possibly tell suspect it will be his turn to talk in a minute, but he needs to listen right now. Stopping denials will also minimize the likelihood that the suspect will request a lawyer. The detective is trying to keep the suspect’s confidence low.
  • Overcoming Objections: Once the interrogators develop a theme and the suspect relates to it, there may be an offer of logical denials. The detective will turn those around to use against the suspect.
  • Getting the Suspect’s Attention: the suspect should be frustrated and unsure. The interrogator will try to use that insecurity against the suspect by pretending to be an ally.
  • The Suspect Loses Resolve: there may be an indication of surrender – head in hands, elbows on knees. The detective then starts the confession process. There is eye contact to increase stress.
  • Alternatives: the interrogator offers two different motives for the crime. The Dual Motives Technique sometimes begin with a minor aspect to be less threatening. One motive will be less severe than the other, and the detective will continue to build a contrast between the two. There will likely be increased signs of surrender.
  • Bringing the Suspect Into the Conversation: once the suspect chooses an alternative, the confession has begun. New people enter the interrogation room, and the suspect will confess to them. Adding new officers or detectives increases the stress level and the desire to get the entire episode over.
  • Confession: the confession will be either videotaped or written out. The suspect will confirm that the statement is voluntary and not coerced and signs in front of witnesses.
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Defense Attorneys Who Deal with Police Interrogation and False Confessions

When you are a suspect in a crime, and the police want to speak to you – they are not your friend. You should never speak to the police without an attorney with you. There is a reason why the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself is in the United States Constitution – IT IS THAT IMPORTANT!! The Reid Technique is routinely used to take advantage of untrained laypeople under investigation for possible criminal actions. Under these circumstances, police interrogation might result in a false confession.

The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are highly experienced Michigan criminal defense attorneys who regularly deal with police interrogation and false confessions. Our attorneys specialize in defending criminal charges and attacking the admissibility of statements made due to questionable police conduct. The Michigan criminal defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. take great pride in their ability to protect their clients from overzealous police officers and overreaching by the government in its desire to prosecute. Our attorneys are well respected and have a reputation for success. 

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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