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Tricking The Suspect – Suspect Interrogation – Confessions and the ” Letter of Apology”

Colorado Criminal Defense Motions to Suppress Confessions Lawyer H. Michael Steinberg

After the Detective has you in his office and has completed the interview.. Which may or may not be admissible in court against the suspect. After the Detective has obtained a confession….

The Detective is worried about the confession being thrown out because it was possibly in violation of the Miranda Case – or it was – involuntarily obtained that is coerced.  The he will seek the letter of apology.

The way these Detectives can refute this claim is by demonstrating the voluntariness of the confession by obtaining a letter of apology from the suspect.

How The Apology Letter “Process” Works

If a suspect confesses or not, the police may utilize this moment to try to persuade him to write an apology letter. An apology letter can be used by the prosecutor to prove that the subject’s statements and confession were voluntary.

A letter written voluntarily to the victim (or a witness, the District Attorney, the Judge, the Jury, etc.), can be used to refute the coercion argument and is an attempt to place another nail in the coffin of the case.

Defense attorneys hate apology letters because of the obvious emotional connection of the letter to the confession.

• The letter is NOT a detailed written confession, but it does reinforce the earlier confession and the suspect’s guilt and culpability.

• An apology letter constitutes a “softer” form of a written confession and is a powerful piece of evidence in all respects.

This is probably what the police officer will say to the suspect:

“I’m going to give you an opportunity that I’ve given everyone that has sat in the same chair you’re sitting, and they’ve all taken me up on it.”

This is a technique used by sales professionals. It plants the seed that if “everyone” else has done this, it’s a good idea for him to do it as well.

The officer will not ask the suspect if he wants to write the letter. He simply provides the suspect with pen and paper, and the choice as to whom to write the letter.

He will NOT dictate the letter but may give a suspect some direction for what to write.

He will sometimes even exit the room and allow the suspect to write. Leaving the room “demonstrates” the voluntariness of the letter and his statements. This gives the prosecutor the ammunition to demonstrate voluntariness-while the subject was alone in the room, he could have written ANYTHING (or nothing at all, for that matter). The fact that he writes an incriminating statement-on his own- is used to show he did so of his own free will.

If the officer believes the letter is not adequate because it lacks important facts about the case, he  may ask the subject to write a second letter and reference the crime by name and a few details.

Both letters are kept as evidence. The officer will just state that he offered the suspect an opportunity to write another letter that provided the reason he/she was apologizing.

Although modified – attribution for this article is given to Third Degree Communications – San Jose CA.


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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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