According to a recent story from NPR, the Virginia Beach Police Department categorically lied to defendants to obtain false confessions in serious felony matters.
“Investigators from Herring’s office found that the police department was using the forged documents as “supposed evidence” to try to get confessions, cooperation and convictions. The police department would lie and say the suspect’s DNA was connected with the crime and provide that in the document, which had forged letterhead and contact information, according to the investigation.”
The sad truth: Police officers are, within certain limits, allowed to coerce statements from defendants using false information. False Confessions are often the result of misstatements or outright lies by the police department. Police can tell some lies to try to get a suspect to talk, but the Supreme Court in Minnesota in particular as warned that law enforcement agencies that do so regularly are “on thin ice.” Increasingly, more judges in more jurisdictions are suppressing false confessions, meaning that it cannot be used against a defendant in a jury trial. I have raised successful challenges to false information resulting in false confessions before. Over my years of practice I have actually seen lies like this told to defendants, that “we have your DNA” or “your fingerprints are on the weapon” when in fact it wasn’t true. In Minnesota I suppressed a confession by a juvenile to a criminal sexual conduct case in which the officers misrepresented to the defendant that the accusations “were not very serious” and they just wanted his “side of the story.” I recently won a murder case in which Aaron Zirzow of the Minneapolis Police Department Crime Lab was caught lying about their firearm tests and represented falsely that the test fired bullet casing “matched” the casing found at a murder scene. The test was not even performed the same brand or materials used in the casing found at the scene, and the state strategically arranged microscopic photos and alignments to make it look as though the same marks were left. However before even obtaining that false evidence, the Minneapolis Police represented to the defendant that his fingerprints and DNA were on the gun, which wasn’t true. They obtained a sort of partial false confession from my client. The jury found the defendant NOT GUILTY, despite the State calling over 20 witnesses. The sole testimony presented by the defense was that of the defendant, and defendant had been accused of shooting someone before.
If you’ve been accused of a crime and forced to confess because you thought it would go better for you, or if you’ve been told the forensic evidence in your case is hopeless to overcome, you need to hire a Criminal Defense Attorney, like myself, who practices in Minnesota. I have the competence to dig into forensic evidence, consult experts, and learn the latest science and challenge the state’s evidence. If you’ve been accused of a crime in Ramsey County, Hennepin County, Washington County, Dakota County, Rice County or anywhere in the state of Minnesota, you need to hire a legally and scientifically competent attorney to represent you.