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Interviews interrogations

Interviews & Interrogations

What skills and techniques do Investigators use to get information from a person?



  • Non-accusatory, structured interview during which specific behavior provoking questions are asked with the purpose of eliciting interpretable behavior symptoms that are typical of innocence or guilt.

  • Additional factual information concerning the case/or suspects may also be developed during this non-accusatory interview.



  • Conversation between the interrogator and suspect, during which the suspect is accused of involvement in a particular incident or group of incidents.

  • An interview is non-accusatory and an interrogation is accusatory

Field interview basics

Field Interview Basics:

  • 90% of job

  • Field interviews by definition are in the field – limited control

  • Objective is accurate information

  • The more private the better – candid and less likely to be affected by other witness statements

  • Establish rapport

  • Reduce tension – spatial, non-verbal

Field interview basics1

Field Interview Basics:

  • Actively listen to whole story

  • Then – ask specifics and take notes

  • Guide/keep on task and avoid being questioned yourself

  • Be objective, even in face of obvious lies – challenging lie will disrupt flow

  • End with summation

  • Determine if more extensive interview is needed: be sure to always get contact info

Confession vs admission

Confession vs. Admission

  • Confession is an acknowledgment of guilt – usually criminal court

  • Admission is a statement of fact – usually civil proceeding



  • Quiet place that can be controlled

  • Interview rooms ideal

    • Sparse

    • Recording devices

    • Control

    • Safe

    • No window

    • Three chairs & a table



  • One on one

    • Multiple interrogators reduce likelihood of trust

      • Could also be “coercive”

Who gets questioned

Who Gets Questioned?


  • At home/hospital

  • Not best source of info – particularly on details

  • Type of crime may inhibit information

  • Vengeful – may distort or exaggerate

Who gets questioned1

Who Gets Questioned?


  • The more independent - the more valuable

  • Witness may be suspect – Gideon

  • Witness with a grudge may ruin case

Who gets questioned2

Who Gets Questioned?

  • Informers – the more protected they feel – the better the info

  • Accusers/complainants – vengeance may taint info

  • Suspects

Main purposes of an interview or interrogation

Main Purposes of an Interviewor Interrogation

  • Establish Facts: Who, What, When, Where, and Why?

  • Identify the guilty party or parties.

  • Obtain a confession from the guilty.

  • Establish a suspect.

  • Clear other related cases and recover evidence or assets.



  • Know everything you can about interviewee

    • Rap sheet

    • Internet search (Facebook et al)

    • Info gathered from other interviews

    • Investigative databases – public (NCIC) & private (Choicepoint)

    • Other databases - credit reports, etc.

  • Identify information you need to get

  • Outline questioning

Communication dynamics

Communication Dynamics

Wording 10%: accuracy is vital

Voice 40%: tone, pitch, pace

Body language 50%: tells the story

Kinesic interview techniques

Kinesic Interview Techniques

  • Watch for certain unspoken clues like gestures, facial expressions and physical postures.

  • Nearly every person unwittingly communicates her mental or emotional state, physical condition and more through cues in her body language.

Kinesic interview techniques1

Kinesic Interview Techniques

Verbal cues: Tone, shakiness, volume

  • Speech quality and content

  • Broken sentences

  • Inappropriate laughter

  • Referring to one's self in the third person

  • Admitting guilt for other crimes or mistakes

  • Repeating the interviewer's questions (or asking to have the questions repeated)

  • Short answers

  • Excessive generalizations

Kinesic interview techniques2

Kinesic Interview Techniques

Physical guilt cues:

  • Hand over his mouth

  • Sit with his arms crossed and thumbs extended

  • General fidgeting of hands and feet

  • Lowered head and nodding

Kinesic interview techniques3

Kinesic Interview Techniques

Physical cues:

  • Guarded behaviors – crossing arms and legs, hands on face, leaning forward

  • Opening behaviors – signs of relief, leaning back, looking up

  • Confession behaviors might include slumping in one's chair, covering the belly area or repeatedly shifting in one's seat

Questioning techniques

Questioning Techniques

Reid Technique

Reid technique

Reid Technique

  • Very commonly used today

  • Three phases

    • Factual Analysis - get all the facts

    • Behavior Analysis Interview – baseline of suspect behavior and communication

    • Nine Step Interrogation – giving a moral justification theme that ends by creating a false dilemma with 2 alternate explanations – 1 less offensive

Reid technique1

Reid Technique

  • Direct Confrontation – confidently accusing of crime

    • Support with facts even if some are guesses or even lies

  • Theme Development – give a reason they committed the crime

    • Watch victims response to each possible motive for body language (nodding head)

    • Smooth, non-threatening voice to build false sense of security

  • Reid technique2

    Reid Technique

    • Dominance – reject all denials

      • They begin to believe their own lie

      • Watch for lies of omission where they avoid the parts of the story that implicate themselves

  • Turning Objections into Justifications – Suspect usually mentions immoral/evil behavior or other reason they didn’t do it and you turn it back on them

  • Reid technique3

    Reid Technique

    • Expressing Empathy – Push on suspects guilt, “I know you are feeling so bad about this.”

    • Offer Alternate Theme – Return to step 2 and run through motives you think will hit home, watch close for response as suspect is usually submissive by this point

    Reid technique4

    Reid Technique

    • Alternate Question – pose a question that works with the theme you are on that gives the suspect 2 choices

      • Socially unacceptable

      • Lesser of the two, maybe even a “no big deal” spin

    • Confession – if they hit on either they’ll confess (make sure to have recorder and witnesses)

    Reid technique5

    Reid Technique

    • Confessing to others – useful to have them confess to family, more likely to confess later in process such as in court

      • Also complete written confession at this point

    Reid technique6

    Reid Technique

    • Technique has its share of critics

    • False confessions problematic with youth

      • Be sure to check validity or reasonableness of confession details

    Questioning techniques1

    Questioning Techniques

    Other Techniques

    Good guy bad guy approach

    Good Guy / Bad Guy Approach

    • Television has rendered this approach unusable.

    • Also called Mutt & Jeff in UK

    • Works OK with youth, naïve offenders

    • The bad guy may step over the line and become guilty of intimidation or coercion.

    Factual approach

    Factual Approach

    • Requires Extensive Investigation

    • The answers to who, what, where, when and why must already be known by the interrogator.

    • The interrogator must be able to counter the suspects explanations or stories.

    • Usually lacks rationalization, which allows the suspect to save face while making an admission.

    Emotional approach

    Emotional Approach

    • Addresses reasons why suspect did what he or she did. It does not address circumstances or details.

    • The interrogator offers reasons and excuses.

    • The interrogator introduces a factual component which first establishes guilt, then allows the suspect to save face while confessing

    • Even though the suspect is guilty, the emotional approach often minimizes the seriousness of the suspects involvement and it can enhance the results

    Best method to use

    Best Method to Use

    • The one that best fits the circumstances and the desired outcome.

    • One that the interviewer/interrogator is comfortable using.

    • A combination of any or all.

    • The one that obtains the information that you need.

    Legal issues

    Legal Issues

    A confession is worthless if it is not legal…

    Self incrimination 5 th amendment

    Self Incrimination: 5th Amendment

    • Limited to Testimonial Communications that Could Result in Conviction

    Does not apply to

    Does NOT apply to:

    • Body fluids — blood tests, breath tests, urine tests

    • Tissue samples for DNA testing

    • Identification procedures — photographs, line-ups, show-ups

    • Handwriting and voice exemplars

    • Movements — sobriety test, posing as directed, wearing clothing found at crime scene

    Can not be used

    Can NOT be used:

    • Shield another person

    • Protect against civil liability

    Custodial interrogation

    Custodial Interrogation

    • Suspect must be informed of the Miranda rights prior to custodial interrogation

    • Custodial means the person is not free to leave

    Warnings are not required

    Warnings are NOT required:

    • Temporary detention

    • Traffic citation issued without taking the violator into custody

    Interrogation includes both direct and indirect questioning

    Interrogation includes both direct and indirect questioning

    Waiver of miranda warnings must be knowing intelligent and voluntary

    Waiver of Miranda warnings must be knowing, intelligent and voluntary:

    • Knowing — suspect has been advised of the Miranda rights

    • Intelligent — suspect has sufficient intelligence to understand the Miranda warnings

    • Voluntary — no coercion can be used to obtain the waiver

    Subsequent interrogations

    Subsequent Interrogations

    • If prior interrogation session violated Miranda rights:

      • Statements from improperly conducted session are inadmissible

    Subsequent interrogations1

    Subsequent Interrogations

    • Statements obtained at later session may be admissible

      • Must have proper Miranda warnings and waiver

    • Fruit of Poison Tree analysis — case by case determination if prior error taints later interrogation sessions

    Subsequent interrogations2

    Subsequent Interrogations

    • If prior interrogation session was conducted properly (including valid Miranda waiver) and it ended without suspect invoking Miranda right to remain silent or to have an attorney present:

    Subsequent interrogations3

    Subsequent Interrogations

    • May resume interrogation at any time

    • Suspect retains right to invoke Miranda at any time

    • New Miranda warnings required only if suspect may have forgotten his/her rights

    Subsequent interrogations4

    Subsequent Interrogations

    • If prior interrogation session ended because suspect invoked Miranda right to remain silent

      • Wait sufficient time to indicate rights will be scrupulously guarded

      • New set of warnings and a waiver are required

    Subsequent interrogations5

    Subsequent Interrogations

    • If prior interrogation session ended because the suspect invoked Miranda right to have an attorney present :

      • Must have attorney present at subsequent interrogation

      • If officer initiates the interrogation, waiver valid only if attorney present when waiver is made

    Subsequent interrogations6

    Subsequent Interrogations

    • If suspect requested to talk to the police — waiver of Miranda rights would be required BUT the waiver could be obtained without an attorney present

    Interviews interrogations1

    Interviews & Interrogations

    What skills and techniques do Investigators use to get information from a person?

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