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The myth that cops have to identify themselves...

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  • The myth that cops have to identify themselves...

    Question came up at lunch today w/my co-workers. It's the same one that's been asked and debated about for ages - does an undercover cop have to identify themselves as a LEO if they are asked that question directly.

    Personally, I believe the answer is an undeniable NO. LEOs can lie about their occupation in any undercover situation. They don't have to skirt the question, or sneak around the answer... meaning they aren't bound to saying, "Do I look like a cop?" or, "What kind of question is that?".. They can tell a flat out lie, and the charges against the suspect will stick.

    Then I started looking on oyez.org for USSC case law to back that up, but I'm not finding it.

    Anyone know what appeals court rulings support this? I'm certain this has been pressed in the courts in every conceivable way and shot down each time but for whatever reason I can't find it...
    John Q. Citizen

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

  • #2
    No. We can lie to you all the way to trial. Period.
    sigpic

    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

    Comment


    • #3
      As I have told more than one person

      "You didn't identify yourself as a criminal, why do I have to identify myself as a cop?"

      I don't think you'll find law related specifically to this because it's not a Constitutional violation to lie.
      sigpic

      I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

      Comment


      • #4
        I don't have any court cases to point you to, but I've been taught that the SCOTUS says it's perfectly okay for me to lie.

        Some completely irrelevant logic, but understandable nonetheless, heck, if people on the street can lie to me all day, why shouldn't I be able to return the favor??

        Comment


        • #5
          Again I completely agree that it's okay for you guys to lie, but that's not why I posted. I posted b/c I'm more interested in reading the written opinion(s) that back it up.
          John Q. Citizen

          They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by JQC View Post
            Again I completely agree that it's okay for you guys to lie, but that's not why I posted. I posted b/c I'm more interested in reading the written opinion(s) that back it up.




            Think about this:



            If an undercover officer always had to identify themselves as cops, wouldn't that defeat the purpose of being undercover?





            /Thread

            .

            Comment


            • #7
              In a search to find you rulings from SCOTUS and lower courts, I found this interesting article

              http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...-interrogation

              You can do the research if you'd like (into the cases mentioned). The details and nuances are on case by case, but for general purposes, yes, we can lie [to a defendant or suspect]. I'm NOT referring to applications of search warrants or testifying which is perjury and surely not what you're inquiring about.
              sigpic

              I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

              Comment


              • #8
                .
                Also, haven't you seen all the undercover prostitution stings on COPS and what not on tv, where the cops obviously didn't have to identify themselves as cops?


                That should be enough right there. Just tell your friends to watch that. lol

                .

                Comment


                • #9
                  Undercover Op.

                  Criminal: So how much you want?
                  UC: Before we begin, let me just mention that I am a police officer
                  Criminal: (pulls gun out)

                  End Result: Bad Day

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
                    In a search to find you rulings from SCOTUS and lower courts, I found this interesting article

                    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...-interrogation

                    You can do the research if you'd like (into the cases mentioned). The details and nuances are on case by case, but for general purposes, yes, we can lie [to a defendant or suspect]. I'm NOT referring to applications of search warrants or testifying which is perjury and surely not what you're inquiring about.
                    Interesting read, thanks. I guess the direct question really never was addressed... or if it was, it didn't make it very far. thanks.
                    John Q. Citizen

                    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The basic tenet is that Police Officers are under no legal obligation to speak the truth in dealing with citizens. The only limitations on the Police come into play if the Officer violates a right under the Constitution.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JQC View Post
                        Question came up at lunch today w/my co-workers. It's the same one that's been asked and debated about for ages - does an undercover cop have to identify themselves as a LEO if they are asked that question directly.

                        Personally, I believe the answer is an undeniable NO. LEOs can lie about their occupation in any undercover situation. They don't have to skirt the question, or sneak around the answer... meaning they aren't bound to saying, "Do I look like a cop?" or, "What kind of question is that?".. They can tell a flat out lie, and the charges against the suspect will stick.

                        Then I started looking on oyez.org for USSC case law to back that up, but I'm not finding it.

                        Anyone know what appeals court rulings support this? I'm certain this has been pressed in the courts in every conceivable way and shot down each time but for whatever reason I can't find it...
                        My recollection is that there is no obligation to admit that you are a cop. It would make no sense to have such a rule.

                        If there were such a rule, it would effectively defeat undercover investigations. I suspect that the issue is most likely to come up in entrapment cases, if you want to do research.
                        Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                        Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I can lie and deny right up to the time I am sworn in to tell the truth in an administrative hearing, court trial, grand jury hearing, obtaining a warrant for a legal search, arrest or any other legal operation which requires me to swear and affirm the truthfulness of my actions or needs.

                          There is a distinct reason for working undercover and it does not incorporate being truthful to the bad guys.
                          Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

                          [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JQC View Post
                            Interesting read, thanks. I guess the direct question really never was addressed... or if it was, it didn't make it very far. thanks.

                            Did you read the same thing I did? Your question was addressed in that article as well as more indepth responses regarding interview and interrogation.

                            Perhaps the BEST answer, which you didn't accept in the beginning, is sheer common sense. If your "friends" don't understand that, then what can I say...we can explain it to you, but we can't understand it for you.
                            sigpic

                            I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JQC View Post
                              Again I completely agree that it's okay for you guys to lie, but that's not why I posted. I posted b/c I'm more interested in reading the written opinion(s) that back it up.
                              If you're looking for specific case law, I'm not 100% certain you'll find it. The courts have pretty well consistantly ruled that we can use ruse and subterfuge in investigations, that would include lying, and we often run sting operations. The requirement for truth begins with written reports and testimony on the stand.

                              Comment

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