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Interrogation inherently involves PERSUASION or PRESSURE. The ultimate goal of interrogation is to obtain a confession, or at least an admission (soft confession)..., anything that would implicate the suspect in criminal behavior. It can safely be assumed nobody would voluntarily implicate themselves to police, but interrogation necessarily involves persuading or convincing a person that it would be in their best interests to do so. Interrogation is changing a person's mind so that they want to tell the police everything they did wrong, and getting them to help convict themselves.

Interrogation leading to confession is very common. American police agencies are extremely good at it, and the United States leads the industrialized world in confession rates, and we do it without torture. Three out of four people waive their Miranda rights (Leo 1996c), and the number of people that confess to police is usually expressed as 60% of all interrogations, although the true range is more like 50-75% (Gudjonsson 1992). Compare this to Germany, which only has about a 40% confession rate. American police have a right to be proud. A confession is regarded as the "holy grail" of evidence collection. It's prima facie, direct evidence of guilt. It's not just a presumption of guilt; it's not even just part of the proof that a prosecutor must deliver in court; it's the main thing that cinches a conviction. And by "cinching" a conviction, that means the case usually doesn't even have to go to trial. The defendant goes directly to sentencing and punishment.

Typically, detectives begin by making eye contact and engaging in idle conversation or chit-chat with the suspect in a sparsely-furnished room. The Miranda warnings are given if they haven't been given already. Next, the detective states that it is their job to discover the truth and they usually share some piece of evidence in the case at this point. Negative incentives are usually used first -- in an attempt to get the subject to confess because they would certainly lose any battle in court. The future is made to look bleak for the suspect. Positive incentives are then usually turned to -- in an attempt to get the suspect to feel better if they confess. The whole process is a kind of mind twist in which the suspect becomes convinced that everything they thought wasn't so bad and offered them some good hope becomes the most evil and bad thing in the world, and that everything they thought was bad or looked down on - like snitching to the police - becomes the most good and beautiful thing on Earth.


Miranda warnings are "triggered", or apply and have to be read, if TWO elements are present: CUSTODY and INTERROGATION. Both are more difficult to define than what might appear at first glance. It is important to note that BOTH elements must be present at the same time, what might be called CUSTODIAL INTERROGATION, although for purposes of understanding, we will treat each term separately.

CUSTODY is the Miranda equivalent of arrest. It does not include traffic stops or brief field interviews based on reasonable suspicion. Nor does it apply to telephone calls, since the suspect is always free to hang up. There is no litmus test (checklist), but an objective test is used to determine if custody occurs. The officer's subjective intent to arrest does not matter. What matters is if, objectively, a reasonable person would believe that an officer conveyed, by words or actions, that a suspect is not free to leave. It also does not matter why the suspect is in custody. Warnings must be given if the suspect is arrested or in jail for one crime and being questioned for another crime.


Standard operating procedure calls for an arrest to begin with a frisking and cuffing. The restrained suspect is placed in a secure police vehicle and taken to headquarters or another booking venue. Before questioning, the suspect must be informed of basic rights.


Once you are arrested, you will be booked. During the booking procedure the police will ask you for basic information about yourself (such as your address and birth date), and fingerprint and photograph you. You may also be asked to participate in a line-up, give a handwriting sample or do similar things.

During booking, a police supervisor records in a registry (or book) the suspect's identifiers and the charges he faces. Police remove and inventory the suspect's property. He is photographed and fingerprinted. Some jurisdictions take saliva swabs for a DNA test. This "pedigree," photo and fingerprints are shared via computer links with state and national crime information centers. Drug and alcohol tests can be given during the booking process.

A suspect can be held for arraignment after booking and interrogation. In some places he is taken by police or court personnel to a courthouse and confined in a holding cell. In others he is confined at a police facility.

Following a lawful arrest, police may make an inventory of the items the arrestee possessed at the station as part of standardized booking procedures.

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