Info that police can collect without a warrant?

I disagree. You as a police officer, just like me are free to ask someone for their Facebook password. And that person may tell you or I to go get lost, that they don’t have to tell us.

The fact that you are in uniform and carrying a gun (sees it is GQ) arguably should matter, but it does not. But, if you tell them that you will arrest them if they don’t provide it, then it turns from a voluntary question into an illegal threat to violate their civil rights. If you get their Facebook password from them under those circumstances, it was not a voluntary disclosure, but under a threat, and would likely be excluded from trial and fruits from it.

I respectfully believe that you are mistaken in that you can lie to people about factual situations (we have your DNA all over the place!) but not legal questions (just tell us the truth and I’ll give you immunity).

There was a case in Canada about 1970 where a man and his girlfriend were arrested for the unsolved murder of the man’s wife. During the interrogation they presented the man with his girlfriend’s “signed confession” and told him he would be taking the full rap unless he confessed. He laughed at them, told them they were full of shit, and then when they released him (no evidence) he and his girlfriend tried to have the police charged with forgery for the false signature. IIRC, it went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the court said that was a legal tactic for the police to use.

I assume there are similar decisions for the USA for this sort of tactic. I get a laugh out of the Law & Order and similar where the police always say “if you tell us what happened we can make it easier for you”. They don’t. But they can lie about evidence and such.

Police cannot give you immunity or promise a lesser sentence (only the prosecutor can plea bargain AFAIK, IANAL) They can suggest they would charge you for additional crimes that they can claim ou have committed. But - good question, can they make up crimes that don’t exist or legal requirements that don’t apply?

FWIW it is almost universally true if you confess you will face less punishment than if you’re convicted at trial. When police say that you’re helping yourself if you confess, it isn’t a complete lie. That doesn’t mean it’s smart to confess. The vast majority of serious criminal cases (I think I’ve read 80%), ultimately end in confessions and guilty pleas. But there is no reason for anyone to confess on the day they are arrested. Get an attorney in there, the attorney can work out a good deal for you in which you may ultimately confess, and you’ll make sure all your rights were protected and etc.

It’s possible things could break your way too, maybe your attorney will find evidence against you was collected impermissibly. Maybe a witness to the event dies before trial etc etc. While the police are not strictly lying when they say that telling them the truth can help you, it still isn’t smart. It only helps you in the context of if you are guilty, and it helps you as compared to someone who loses at trial. But it likely does not help you as much as a negotiated plea agreement hammered out by your attorney with the prosecutor in which your confession has yet to be freely given–without your confession the prosecutor has incentive to offer a better deal since his case isn’t as strong (unless he has such incontrovertible physical evidence that your confession matters little.)

Right, but what was the subject actually promised? The police can use vague statements about how “it is better” if you do this because what are they saying? Case law pretty much holds that they must make a specific threat or promise for that statement to be inadmissible. Likewise your demand to remain silent must be unambiguous. If you ask if you should talk to a lawyer or say that “maybe” you should talk to a lawyer, that isn’t good enough. You must say “I wish to speak with a lawyer now, and I invoke my right to remain silent.” A case a few years ago got some chortles on here because merely remaining silent wasn’t enough. The suspect had to say that he wished to remain silent.

But as a general answer to the OP, there is nothing wrong or illegal with anyone asking you a question, even a very personal one. So the courts have held that a police officer on duty can do the same thing–subject to you telling me or the officer, “Whoa, buddy! That’s none of your business!”

I mean, if you walked up to me and asked me what my wife’s favorite sexual position was, I might think that very uncouth. I would refuse to answer. But what law prohibits asking it?

This is absolutely correct. Offering a reduced sentence is one of the interview techniques I cannot do. Big no-no! After a subject writes out their confession there is a form that is read to them that they sign. One section says, in effect, “I was not promised a reduced sentence by the investigator”.

However I can say things like “hey, I’m just charging you with this. If I wanted to be a prick I could charge you with this, that, and the other thing”. Notice that statement isn’t a direct threat to charge you with other stuff or that I will if you don’t tell me what I want to know. It’s just a reminder of how nice I am not to charge you with all the other little things you did in addition to the big thing.

But none of is pertinent to the link in the OP. I don’t see any violation or illegal seizure in asking for a SS#. And until we find out what happens to those that refuse were kind of stalled in the conversation on it.

Text doesn’t come with much emotion. Are you just letting them know that you cut them a break or are we at the OP’s question where you pretty much say, “I really would like that Facebook password and SSN. You don’t have to give it to me, but it would be a shame if I had to charge you with these additional four offenses.”?

Did the OP link say they were asking for actual passwords or just social media handles and such? There is a substantial difference.

I can diffuse an aggressive violator on a traffic stop by reminding them they’re just getting a speeding ticket and not also being cited for the burnt out tail lights, lack of tire tread, loud muffler, and failure to wear a safety belt. Getting them to count their blessings can go a long way. Yet none of those are threats.

This is one of the things that scare me about police overreach though. Say an officer pulls someone over for speeding, and notice 3 other minor violations. Perhaps the officer would normally be willing to just write the speeding ticket and let them go on their way. But then they refuse to answer questions, like, “what’s your social media info?”, so they get all four tickets instead. No policies have been violated, and they received legitimate tickets, but in reality they received 3 extra tickets for “not being cooperative” (i.e. simply for standing on their rights).

All of those are threats because the message received is that if they don’t cooperate totally, whether they have to legally or not, you will add those charges.

No, because I didn’t say that at all.

And there is no way it could be inferred from your message?

But I would absolutely infer it. And i would absolutely feel that you were threatening me. Because you are threatening me. Maybe there’s some legal standard of threat that you aren’t quite meeting, but in the real world, that’s a threat.

It does very much sound like a nicer version of “nice place you have here. Sure wouldn’t want to see it… burn down.”

In traffic stops where I was cited for less than I actually did (or not cited at all), the news regarding clemency wasn’t given until the end of the traffic stop when they were handing my license back to me and telling me to drive more carefully. In my cases, no threat could be imputed to the officers because I had no behavioral choices to make after being informed of their clemency.

@pkbites has explained how he uses clemency to help mellow an agitated contact - not as an implied threat, but as a way to inspire a sense of relief and a mood of “this traffic stop isn’t going so bad afterall” - and you’ve flat-out accused him of lying. There’s a big difference between you feeling subjectively threatened (your first two sentences) and claiming an officer deliberately intending to threaten you (your third sentence).

While I might be relieved that he’s not going to cite me for X, Y, and Z, I’m still going to see it as a threat that he still can cite me for these things if I don’t act better.

As to whether he’s lying or not… the person with all the power in an encounter is in a terrible position to determine what actions are threatening to the person with none of the power. Sometimes a Carrot can look an awful lot like a Stick, depending on where you’re seeing it from.

The most generous reading of pkbites’s stance is that he is unfamiliar with the concept of an implicit threat.

Calming somebody down by telling them just how much worse you could make things for them, if you wanted to, is a threat. It is reinforcing the fact that you have power and they don’t, and that you are capable of exercising that power at any time.

And it’s not so much “calming them down” as “inhibiting (potentially agitated) action”. I can’t imagine anyone feeling calmer after being told that.

You wouldn’t feel calmer after being told you’ll only be cited for 10 over, instead of the 30 over that you were actually doing? If not that, then what would put you more at ease during a traffic stop?

The wording and timing matter. If the opening line is “I’ve got you on radar at 30 over and could take you to jail right now. Now what’s your SSN and Twitter handle?” feels like more of an implied threat than if the entire interaction is concluded with “I’ve got you on radar at 30 over, but I’m only going to cite you for 10 over.” There’s no implied threat or quid pro quo in the latter statement: it’s just an explicit declaration of what the officer is definitely going to do, with no conditions included.

I was once pulled over for driving without registration. (We’d failed to renew it.) The police officer was visibly relieved when he realized that I was the owner of the car. He asked me if I had a smart phone with me, and told me that it wasn’t legal for me to drive without registration, and he ought to have the car towed, but if I promised to register it right now, on the side of the road, he would let me go and just issue a ticket.

And he went on to say that if I challenged the ticket it would likely be thrown out.

I didn’t feel relieved. Until he said that, it hadn’t occurred to me he might have the car towed. I mean, I wasn’t going to do anything crazy anyway. I’m sure I didn’t look like I was likely to get violent before he said that. But that made me a lot MORE anxious. Not calmer. And I think he WAS being nice. Literally the only thing he asked me to do was to register my car, which was totally appropriate for him to request.

If he’d asked me for my social media handle, I WOULD absolutely have considered his comment about towing the car to be a threat.