i —— foreword
Fairly recently I realized that a lot of writers and US citizens alike don’t really know and fully understand their rights when being arrested/interrogated. This is mostly a writing guide but if you’re a US citizen this stuff is just useful to know. Basically, the police won’t tell you most of your rights aside from what you know — but they don’t even explain those. I hope this helps.
ii —— being arrested
If you are not served with a warrant, the police can not arrest you. They can say they have one, but unless they show it to you, you don’t have to cooperate with them. Upon being arrested, you will be read your rights.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say
or do can be held against you in the court of law. You
have the right to an attorney, if you can not afford one
you will be provided one without any cost to you.”
Every so often the police officers fail to say this to the suspect before the questioning session and usually that results in negative consequences for the officers involved. What they don’t tell you is that you are allowed to have an attorney present before and during your questioning. They also don’t tell you that what you don’t say and do can be held against you. An example of this is, say you’re being accused of murder. If you sit there expressionless and stoic while they’re telling you that you killed your mother its gonna seem suspicious and they can use that in their favor. Now, in that same respect if you sit there sweating and vehemently denying it — they can use that against you as well.
Alright, they also don’t tell you that you can accidentally forfeit your ‘right to remain silent’ (fifth amendment right). If you say “I didn’t kill my mother.” you just gave up your right to remain silent. They will likely try to provoke you to say something like this that will make you give up this right. That’s why you want a lawyer present during and before your questioning.
iii —— interrogation techniques
There are a lot so I’ll only be outlining a few major things. Additionally, this guide is only applicable to lawful interrogations of arrested individuals that are US citizens and do not fall under the “terrorist" category, because military interrogations are quite a bit different. I might touch on that later.
The room is set up strategically. In almost every interrogation room, there is a table, two chairs, and a mirror/one way glass. The suspect sits on one side of the table, a police officer on the other, and the interrogator stands. The sitting police officer serves to corroborate and support the other police officer, or participate in the good cop/bad cop facade. The one sitting will usually pretend to be more friendly and try to feed you the age old lie “if you just tell the truth it won’t be as bad”.
The sitting cop will also look for microexpressions and pay attention to body language while the standing cop will generally pace around and give off aggressive vibes to intimidate you, the suspect.
On rare occasions, you can be questioned without being served a warrant. During these times, you have not been read your rights most likely and you do not have to cooperate. Sometimes its in your best interest, other times its not. Either way you don’t have to stay. On other occasions they are allowed to detain you for up to 12 hours but that is exceptionally rare.
The police officers questioning you will try to make you trip up on your own story. They do this mainly by trying to speed up the process so you have less time to think and process — the aggressive body language comes into play here. If you feel threatened you’re more likely to stutter and stumble around than if you have a clear mind.
If they’re having a difficult time getting you to start talking, they’ll ask you harmless questions — questions usually about your family members, your birthday, etc. These are always things they know already but it gets the metaphorical ball rolling. Along with that, they can establish a baseline of what your body language is when you’re telling the truth so they know when you’re lying.
iv —— "enhanced interrogation" techniques
As far as the less lawful interrogations go, just keep in mind that all pain would have to start at a minimal level and incrementally increase in intensity to be effective. You also have to factor in disorientation due to pain and possibly blood loss. At a certain point in time, your subject will realize they are going to die and there is no going back and they will stop caring. If they think it could possibly stop, you can get information out of them. There always has to be the possibility of getting out of it alive. Or you could also kidnap someone close to them and hurt them in front of your subject if that works.
The most commonly known about method is waterboarding, but its not the most widely used. The mechanics are basic, actually. Some sort of material is wrapped over the subject’s head — like a thick canvas material, or plastic — and water is poured over it. Essentially they feel like their drowning but you are just asphyxiating them. Its more mental torture than anything else.
Sometimes hypothermia is used, and that is basically just taking the subject’s clothing and putting them in a room about 50* F. Then every couple of minutes the subject is doused in cold water.
A very common technique is to shake the subject and that is fairly self explanatory, I believe. Not enough to hurt them, just enough to instill fear that you will. An open handed slap to the face or abdomen is also used. Punching is usually not employed by the government because it harms the prisoner, but if you’re talking about another country or a rogue operative, maybe a drug dealer — who knows.
Sometimes it is as simple as making the subject stand in one place in the same position for hours. It causes intense strain on the muscles and is usually quite effective.
v —— end thoughts
I could have gotten a lot more in depth on a lot of this but I felt I covered it enough to give a general idea. I do hope this helps people write these sort of things more accurately, or maybe even if they get into a scuttle with law enforcement (which I hope does not happen). If you have any questions, comments, or anything additional that I should add, don’t hesitate to contact me.