Penalties for lying in police interviews.

Would attaching an obstruction charge or even perjury to lying in a police interview actually be worse for the police? In many, many cases I’ve seen where the police break a case or get a confession because the interviewee agreed to the interview without a lawyer present.

Perjury charges are specifically reserved for when someone is lying under oath. As far as I know you’re only under oath in front of a judge - not while talking with police.

Aside from that I don’t think I really understand the question.

I’m thinking that the OP wants to know if can be slammed into the pokie for lying to the fuzz

In my experience, very few cases are solved this way. In any event, there’s no problem if the suspect waived their right to have an attorney present. And, I’m confused. If they’re lying to the police, how is that going to help “Break the case?”

Need answer fast?

It depends.

Most police interviews consist of witnesses and suspects lying to the police. Most of the time, the district attorney’s office (the ones who decide if charges are pressed) will make the call if the person is arrested, or even prosecuted, for obstruction of justice.

Given the relatively tiny number of obstruction/ hindering prosecution charges which occur in the US (assuming that the OP is discussing American jurisprudence) annually, it’s a safe bet that the majority of people who lie to the police, intentionally or not, never face charges for doing as such.

Let me reiterate. Going in, I assumed that lying during a police interview is not illegal. It’s certainly not perjury, and I didn’t think it was obstruction.

So the question is, if an interviewee going in knows that, should he lie, he could be charged with obstruction or perjury (Assume a law change is made here) would that:

  1. Help police because the subject is less likely to lie OR

  2. Hurt police because the subject is less likely to be interviewed at all.
    I have a completely separate legal question here as well, and I’ll ask it in this thread rather than make a whole new thread.

What’s to keep a prosecutor or defense attorney from calling to the stand a ‘legal expert’ and asking (assuming the prosecutor or defense attorney is sure of the answer) “In your expert opinion has the State proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt/ State failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt?”*

*Sorry, if that’s a dumb question.

IANAL (duh)

I’m going to guess on this one and see if I get backed up:

Objection: Prejudicial to jury.

I can’t trot out the exact jurisprudence that would support this, but that is a total no-go. It’s not just prejudicial, it is usurping the entire function of the jury!

To your re framed first question

I’m not sure an answer is possible. In some cases, #1, in other cases, #2. The variables of situations leading to the two different results would be infinite. How would you even study this?

Further complications: How are you going to prove the “lie?” Is a guilty verdict following a denial during questioning proof that the suspect lied? How about a guilty plea? (If so, it might be hard to get people to “change their plea.”) What if they lied about something no directly decided by the subseqent jury. For example, “I wasn’t in Chicago that day, I don’t know John Smith, and I didn’t sell him any drugs.” So, the jury comes back not guilty, because the drug sale was not proven, but the prosecutor thinks he proved defendant was in Chicago and did know John Smith. You want another prosecution based on lying about things that are now tangents?

Personally, I would love to see more perjury prosecutions. But if you open it up to comments that are not made under oath, you’ve got a host of logistical problems we don’t need.

As to your second quesiton, as you may expect, the question has come up:

In re Detention of Palmer, 691 N.W.2d 413, 419 (Iowa 2005) (“[A] witness cannot opine on a legal conclusion or whether the facts of the case meet a given legal standard”; rule is based on the assumption that “jurors are fully capable of applying the facts of the case to the law provided to them by the trial judge.”).

State v. Maurer, 409 N.W.2d 196, 198 (Iowa Ct. App. 1987) (testimony of state trooper that “it is my opinion beyond any reasonable doubt that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle upon a public highway while he was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage” should not have been admitted; such opinion testimony was “tantamount to testimony that defendant was guilty of the crime … . His testimony went to a standard of proof, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, a decision which is up to the jury to decide.”

Both cases from Iowa, but the result would be the same in all U.S. jurisdictions that I can imagine.

IANAL. I believe that lying to the police is against the law. It is my understanding (perhaps mistaken) that at the local level, the crime is rarely prosecuted, but it is not uncommon at the state and federal level (Martha Stewart went to prison for making false statements to federal officials, not for insider trading, the crime for which she was being investigated).
Furthermore, the threat of prosecution for the crime of making false statements to investigators is sometimes used as a threat to compel the cooperation of people in an investigation of someone else.

In that case they could simply say nothing.

One cannot lie unintentionally. Lying is not the utterance of an untrue statement; it is the attempt (successful or not) to deceive another person. That idiot pastor who just died of a snakebite was not lying when he claimed that could would protect him from snake venom; he was just an idiot.

You have to be read your rights before anything you say can be held against you. After that, lying is unwise, since you may end up caught in it in court.

I believe it’s a crime to lie to federal investigators (consider Martha Stewart).

Anyway, if the police are asking you any question other than “Can you describe the man who pointed the gun at you and took your wallet,” the correct answer is, “I ain’t saying nothing without a lawyer, copper.” (Phrased more delicately, of course.) This is especially true if you’ve been so foolish as to go to the police station for an interview without being arrested.