While there are laws against perjury in all states, police in Florida are allowed to lie to suspects – including juveniles – during questioning. Any confessions obtained during these deceptive interactions can be used against the defendant.
Recognizing that juveniles are especially vulnerable when faced with these types of interactions (and often taught to trust police), one Florida lawmaker has filed a bill that would render the confession of a juvenile inadmissible if it was obtained by police using deception.
Frankly, SB 890 is unlikely to pass. A similar measure last year failed unanimously, and this one does not yet have a companion bill in the state House.
But it does bring up an important point that our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers often must broach with suspects who opt to speak with police before asking for a lawyer: That it’s almost always a very bad idea. This is especially true for custodial interrogations involving juvenile suspects. We would agree that they are deserving of some additional legal protections, but as of now, they don’t have it.
There is a common – and generally judicially accepted – practice by law enforcement to lie without consequence to suspects during questioning. They make false promises of lighter sentences in exchange for confessions. They misrepresent the evidence in order to get them to confess. They’ll say a co-defendant has confessed when in reality they haven’t. These tactics are even more problematic in the context of juvenile cases because youth are more vulnerable – physically and psychologically. They are more susceptible to suggestibility. This has been known to lead to false confessions – especially with kids and teens.
Just take the case of the Exonerated Five, previously known as the Central Park Five – each told by police that their friends had already implicated them in a crime and that they’d face death unless they confessed. They did confess – each giving completely different stories – only to later be exonerated.
When there is a confession or self-incriminating statement given to police during interrogation, it almost inevitably leads to a conviction or plea. That is why so many Florida criminal defense lawyers are so adamant about suspects avoiding interrogation without their attorney present. Continue reading