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INTRODUCTION TO JUVENILE INTERROGATION TECHNIQUES
Online Training Transcript
Welcome to the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention training, titled Introduction to Juvenile Interrogation Techniques. My name is Terry McQuaid and I am currently Assistant Commander of the Baltimore County Police Department Training Academy. I have worked in the Department for 25 years, previously as a Shift Commander in the Patrol Division, internal affairs investigator, and a detective in the Criminal Investigation Division.
Once you have determined that you should move from interviewing to interrogation, you will need to choose a technique for getting to the truth and obtaining a confession. In this training, we will examine a number of techniques for conducting interrogations. Our objectives for this training are to :
• Identify potential investigative traps • Understand importance of the “totality of the circumstances” • Develop age-appropriate Miranda statements, and to • Identify interrogation approaches and strategies
Slide 3 Additionally, we will:
• Describe the cautions and considerations for using the strategies when interrogating youth and
• Analyze a juvenile’s behavior in an interrogation and determine the most appropriate approach
Interrogations are accusatory. If you move into an interrogation you should be reasonably sure that you have the right suspect. This is not a fishing expedition.
Simply stated, the interrogation is done to elicit the truth from the juvenile and to get a confession. The exchange between the officer and the juvenile transitions from the 20/80 rule to the 80/20 equation. The interviewer does most of the talking and asks more direct questions. The interrogation might begin midway through an interview or it might be planned after a series of interviews. It is possible that the juvenile might make a complete confession during the interview but we will discuss confessions later on in this module. If the juvenile does not make a full confession during the interview and there is reason to believe that you are being deceived, or the evidence is indicating a direct link to the juvenile, you will use interrogation techniques to get to the truth.
Before considering interrogations, ensure your case is void of any potential investigative traps.
Incomplete analysis. Incomplete analysis is when evidence does not match a confession. Remember to avoid allowing a lack of evidence to close off possibilities and limit options for a full explanation of the facts.
Investigators may rush to judgment and have tunnel vision when a decision is made earlier on in the investigation and they seek a confession to back up that decision. To avoid this, remember to let the evidence lead the case. You should have enough evidence to convict, before interrogating. A confession should be a bonus, not all the case has to rely on.
Tunnel vision is a narrow focus that “limits the considerations of the full range of alternatives.” This can result in focusing too soon on a single suspect and not considering other possibilities. This can also lead to selective thinking and searching only for evidence that confirms your hypothesis.
Groupthink is a mode of thinking within a group of people where the desire for agreement/resolution overrides the motivation to think critically about positions that differ from the thoughts of the group. This can result in self- censorship, because information is gathered to support the group’s hypothesis.
Similarly, organizational momentum is the inability of an investigation to change directions once it is headed down a path and the department has invested significant time, money, effort, and energy.
Ego can weaken a case investigation if the investigators or a department as a whole are unwilling to admit that any of their analyses or conclusions could be wrong.
On the next slide, complete the activity and then click the forward arrow to continue.
Investigative Traps Activity
The decision to switch to interrogation should be based on a number of factors.
Shifting to an interrogation approach should be done with thought. It is best to move into an interrogation approach with a plan and with evidence. It is therefore recommended that a separate interview be scheduled to move into this phase. The ability to re-interview should not be underestimated. The time spent developing rapport can be used later as a springboard for any follow-up interviews. It gives the investigator time to gather more information and find out why there are gaps or it might become evident why the youth lied about a particular portion of their story.
The decision to switch to interrogation is based on a number of factors.
The pre-interview strategy – the investigator has planned before going into the interview that there is sufficient reason to consider moving into the interrogation. The interrogator outlines the approach they will use with the juvenile.
An assessment is made about the completeness of the overall investigation. Other suspects have been clearly eliminated and there is sufficient evidence to lead you to this particular youth. The investigator needs to be ready to use one of the approaches and make an accusation.
Before engaging the youth in an interrogation, the investigator must consider the location and timing conducive to an interrogation. The space needs to be private and away from distractions. One of the principles of interrogation for adults is to be in an isolated environment that is non-supportive of the suspect. For youth, the opposite is recommended by researchers. With no adult support system or an isolated unfamiliar environment, the youth may
try to please the adult who is questioning them. In doing so, they will try to read what the investigator’s preferred answer might be. There should be access to parents and to counsel because of this vulnerability.
The interviewer should be reasonably certain that he or she can elicit the information from the suspect and that this confrontation will not affect future cooperation if needed. And the interviewer should have reasonable certainty that the youth is directly involved.
The US Supreme Court case Fare v Michael C. required that juvenile waivers of rights should be judged by “totality of circumstances”—meaning whether they are made “knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily.” These judgments are highly subjective and require determinations by circumstances of cases rather than by application of a specific set of rules.
Case law has shown that the courts may consider a variety of items when looking at Miranda and the totality of circumstances, including:
• Circumstances of the confession
• Methods used to obtain the confession
• The suspect’s physical condition and
• The suspect’s mental condition
Other items courts may consider when looking at Miranda and the totality of circumstances are:
• The length of interview and interrogation
• Education and intelligence (developmental level, comprehension) and
• Experience with the juvenile justice system
In June 2011, in J.D.B v. North Carolina, the U. S. Supreme Court held that police must consider a suspect’s age when deciding whether to provide a Miranda warning and in determining if a child is considered to be in custody or not, based on the child’s level of comprehension and/or intimidation as to whether they felt like they could leave the room or not.
J.D.B. was a 13 year old boy suspected of home break-ins. He was pulled from the middle school classroom and questioned for 45 minutes in a conference room at the school by two officers and two school administrators. Miranda rights were not read to him because the interviewing officers believed the interview as non-custodial. J.D.B. confessed to the crime and provided a written statement. Slide 12
The Supreme Court concluded that age should be considered when determining custody and the case was remanded back to the state courts to determine if J.D.B. was indeed entitled to Miranda warnings.
As mentioned earlier, age is only one factor to be considered in the totality of the circumstances when evaluating custody. J.D.B. now requires the court to consider whether a child of any particular age would feel free to leave given the circumstances.
J.D.B. shows that the Supreme Court thinks age is very important in all legal contexts involving interrogation.
When interrogating youth, it is important you can prove that the youth has truly understood his or her rights before proceeding. We do not want to have a true confession rejected or thrown out of court because the juvenile did not understand their rights. A landmark study found that over half the youth
surveyed did not comprehend at least one Miranda right, compared to less than a quarter of the adults.
You should read the Miranda Warnings as they are wr