3 Tricks Police Use to Investigate PC 288 Charges
Wallin & Klarich’s team of child molestation attorneys in Southern California have spent the last 35 years successfully defending clients facing criminal charges for violation of California Penal Code Section 288 (lewd or lascivious acts upon a minor under 14).
Our law firm has defended members of the California Teacher’s Association as well as thousands of parents and stepparents who have found themselves accused of child molestation charges under PC 288. Throughout that time, we have noticed that police use three major tricks while investigating incidents of child molestation. These three tricks used by the police are:
These three tricks used by the police are:
- The “Out of Custody Interrogation;”
- The “Polygraph or Lie Detector Test;” AND
- The “Pretext Phone Call.”
If you are being accused of committing lewd acts on a minor, it is important that you understand these three tricks. If you fall for any of these tricks, the district attorney will be in good position to find you guilty of PC 288 charges.
That is why you need to prepare yourself by reading about these three tricks and by talking to an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Wallin & Klarich about your case. After you have read these tricks, contact our law firm at (877) 466-5245 so we can protect you from incriminating yourself.
The Criminal Investigation Process
Before we move on to the tactics that you can expect police to use against you, you first need to understand how the criminal process works in California. Just because you have been accused of a crime does not mean that you will automatically be convicted of that crime. It must be proven in court that you committed the crime before you can be punished for it.
Therefore, after you have been accused of a crime, a police investigation will take place. This process, known as the “pre-filing investigation process,” typically involves law enforcement reviewing and analyzing the facts of your case and searching for evidence that shows who committed the crime. The goal of the pre-filing investigation period is for the investigating agency to find out if it can recommend that charges be filed against you.
If investigators uncover evidence that shows you may have committed the crime, charges will likely be filed against you and the court process will begin. That is why it is important that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you during the pre-filing investigation period. Your attorney will be able to protect your rights and prevent you from revealing evidence that could be used against you.
During this pre-filing investigation period, law enforcement may use three specific tricks to get you to admit that you committed a crime.
Trick 1: The Out of Custody Interrogation
Police officers know the Miranda rule, and you probably know it too – at least, you think you do.[i] If you’ve heard the phrase “You have the right to remain silent…” you may think you have a good understanding of your Miranda rights. However, unless you went to law school or the police academy, you probably don’t fully comprehend your Miranda rights. Police will attempt to use this lack of understanding to hurt your case.
According to the Miranda rule, police officers are required to advise you of your rights before they can interrogate you if you are in custody. It is important to note the phrase “in custody” in this instance because the rules are different if you are not in custody.
Most police try to avoid reading people their Miranda rights unless they absolutely have to. They will try to use every trick in the book to avoid advising you of your Miranda rights. Why would they do that? The answer is simple: the police are not on your side. They suspect you are guilty of a crime and want you to be punished for committing that crime. Therefore, they will be trying to get you to confess to the crime. In many cases, they are successful in persuading suspects to confess before they have to read them their Miranda rights.
Can Police Get Away With Not Reading Me My Miranda Warnings in a PC 288 Case?
So, how do the police get away with not reading you your Miranda warning? It’s quite simple: the Miranda rule does not apply to “out of custody” interrogations. That means police don’t have to advise you of your Miranda rights if you have not been arrested.
One common trick used by the police in investigating PC 288 cases is to call a suspect on the phone and tell him or her that they have been accused of this crime, but they want to hear the suspect’s side of the story before proceeding with the case.
“Come down to the police station so you can talk to us. You won’t be arrested just for talking to us,” police may tell you.
Sounds like a pretty cool cop, right? Well, don’t believe it if police ever say something like this to you.
When you go into the police station, the officer may continue being nice. He or she may even offer you water or coffee and tell you that you’re free to go whenever you’d like. The officer will not tell you that you have the right to remain silent or the right to an attorney because you haven’t been arrested yet, and he or she doesn’t have to read you your Miranda rights if you have voluntarily agreed to be there.
Once the police have secured the suspect’s cooperation, the investigating officer will use all the interrogation methods he or she can to attempt to obtain a confession or admission of guilt.
What Do You Mean by Interrogation Methods? What Do Police Do?
You may be asking yourself at this point, “Didn’t the police just want me to tell my side of the story? What interrogation methods could they use against me?”
Well, the reality is that the police only wanted to entice you to go into the station so they can attempt to get you to confess to the crime. In order to do this, they will use a variety of tactics that includes everything short of threats, outright promises of leniency and physical violence.
What if I Confessed to a Crime I Didn’t Commit?
Sadly, studies have shown that police interrogation methods lead to false confessions. A “false confession” is when you admit to committing a crime when you did not in fact commit that crime. Yes, these interrogation techniques are that good that they can compel an innocent person to confess to a crime he or she didn’t commit.
There are many people who have been cleared of crimes they confessed to but never committed. It’s happened for the most part in cases where DNA evidence is tested after the suspect confessed (sometimes years after he or she confessed) and shows conclusively that the person who confessed isn’t guilty of the crime. There are dozens of known cases like this.
If there is one thing we hope you’ll take away from this is that the police aren’t interested in hearing your side of the story. They are mostly interested in you confessing to the crime. It makes their job that much easier, since, once you confess to molesting a child, it’s almost impossible to take that confession back, even if it is a false confession.
Trick 2: The Polygraph or Lie Detector Test
Under the law, the results of a lie detector or polygraph test are not generally admissible as evidence in court. However, there is an exception if both the prosecution and the defense agree to let the results come into evidence, but this is highly unlikely. If you pass, the prosecution won’t agree. If you fail, your criminal defense lawyer won’t agree. Therefore, under almost any circumstance, and no matter whether you do well or poorly on the test, the results of the test will not come into evidence.
So, why would police ask you to take a lie detector test then? What’s the point if the results of the test cannot be used against you? The reason you may be asked to take a lie detector is because the statements that you make during this test are admissible as evidence.[iv] This means that if you admit to the crime or say anything incriminating, your statements could be used against you.
What Kind of Statements Will I Be Making Other Than Yes or No?
If you are being accused of child molestation, do not submit to a lie detector test.
You must understand that, in the vast majority of cases, the police don’t care about the lie detector test results. If the results can’t hurt you, they can’t help the police either, right? So, why would the police use a lie detector test? Because it’s just another trick they use to obtain a confession from you.
How can I confess to a crime if I’m just sitting in a chair? Won’t I just be saying yes or no?
The reality is that a lie detector test involves much more than just the polygraph test. The police will start by conducting an informal pre-polygraph interview, which can take more than an hour. During this time, the police officer will explain how the polygraph machine works. Then, he or she will tell you he or she is going to ask you questions about the case in order to formulate a proper baseline to make sure the test is accurate.
These questions are merely an interrogation regarding the PC 288 charges against you. If you’re talking, you’re going to lose this game. We have had cases where clients have confessed to the police during the “pre-polygraph interview.” If you think that’s not an interrogation designed to get your confession, you are badly mistaken.
If the police can’t get the suspect to confess during the pre-polygraph interview, the polygraph test will then be conducted. After it’s done, the suspect will naturally want to stick around and see how he or she did. The police will use this to their advantage. An officer may come in and tell the suspect that they’ve failed the test and call the suspect a liar. The suspect will then be particularly vulnerable to all the police interrogation techniques and will begin talking. The best way to win the interrogation game police are playing is to never talk.
If I Take a Lie Detector Test, Don’t Police Have to Read Me My Miranda Rights?
Do police have to inform you of your Miranda rights before you take a lie detector? Well, before the test process begins, the officer always has every suspect first sign a form saying he or she understands that they are free to go at anytime.
This means you are there under your own free will. Because you are not in custody, police do not have to read you your Miranda warning. Any statements made during and after the polygraph test are fully admissible in court.
Trick 3: The Pre-Text Phone Call
The third trick is fairly straightforward, but it still works on many suspects. That is because the “pre-text phone call” strategy allows you to feel comfortable and makes you let your guard down. How do police do this? They accomplish this by using the alleged victim in the case.
When it comes to child molestation charges under PC 288, the alleged victim is typically a child. Therefore, police may ask the child or the child’s parents or other relatives to call you. You will not know this, but investigators are listening in on your phone call and recording the whole thing.
The child will ask you questions regarding the alleged incident. He or she may ask you “why did you do it?” or “why did you choose me?” These emotionally charged statements often get you to respond with damning statements that could be used against you. Because the child is so emotional, it may cause you to make an incriminating statement to comfort the child, even if you did not actually commit the crime.
For example, the child or the parent may say that the alleged victim is now having nightmares, going to counseling, doing poorly in school or being bullied by friends due to the incident. Police will instruct the caller to play on your emotions and may even pass them notes while the phone call is going on. Many times, when these troubling and emotional statements are being made, you may say “I’m sorry” because you feel bad about what has happened to the child. This is a natural response to these statements, but it could also be an incriminating response.
This can’t be legal, right? How can the police get away with listening to and recording your phone conversations without your knowledge? Under California Penal Code Section 633, these types of call are perfectly legal when they are done by or at the request of the police.[v] In other words, you should avoid all contact with police and the alleged victim during the pre-filing investigation period.
So How Should I Handle a Pretext Phone Call If I’m Being Accused of Child Molestation?
If you believe you are under investigation for accusations of child molestation, you must never answer the telephone ever. Instead, rely on voicemail. Only return phone calls from people you know. If you make the mistake of answering the phone and someone attempts to discuss your pending case with you, you need to vehemently and immediately deny the allegation and end the phone call.
If you are accused of a crime during a phone call, any statements you say can be used against you in a court of law. That is why you should not just merely try to change the subject or ignore the allegations. You must deny the allegations. If you fail to do so, the fact that you did not deny the allegations could be used as evidence against you.
Should I Speak to the Police If They Want to Talk to Me About a PC 288 Allegation?
With all of these tricks that police use, you may be wondering if you should ever talk to a law enforcement officer about PC 288 allegations. At Wallin & Klarich, our experienced criminal defense attorney Stephen Klarich has a very simple saying that sums up our thoughts on this: “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up!”
Police officers are not on your side. If you are suspected of a crime, they will be doing everything they can to punish you for that crime. That is why you should never talk to law enforcement if you are accused of a crime. However, that does not mean you should simply ignore everything they say. You need to invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and you must let them know that you are exercising this right.
Tell police “I hereby invoke my right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” A recent opinion by the US Supreme Court now allows police to use your silence against you unless you first use these magic word.[vi]
Speaking to any member of law enforcement is always a very bad idea if you are accused of a crime, especially a serious crime such as child molestation. You should merely get the name of the police officer who is calling you and his or her phone number, and tell the officer your lawyer will call him back.
Our criminal defense lawyers will contact the police and try to convince them the charges against you are false. We’ll help you be aware of your rights and understand how to invoke them with the police the right way so that your statements can’t be twisted around and used against you.
Should I Hire a Lawyer If I’m Guilty of Child Molestation?
But what if you’re guilty of the crime? Should you still hire an attorney?
A criminal defense lawyer’s job isn’t just to defend people falsely accused of crimes. Criminal attorneys also defend people who are guilty of or convicted of crimes to ensure that they are treated fairly by the courts.
Just because someone is guilty doesn’t mean that the court should be free to sentence that person to whatever the judge wants to sentence them to, right? If you’re guilty of speeding, the judge can’t send you to prison, right? Everyone should be treated fairly, and that is where our experienced defense lawyers come in. Our job is to make sure that you are treated fairly within the criminal justice system and that your rights are not violated.
Even if you have confessed to committing a crime, you have a right to a lawyer, and there is plenty that a Wallin & Klarich lawyer can do to help you. In addition to attacking the validity of the confession (for example: by arguing that the police violated your Miranda rights to secure that confession), our team of child molestation attorneys will have you evaluated by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, who will be able to determine whether you are a serious threat to re-offend.
Our experienced criminal defense attorneys also know how to properly investigate the case and gather positive evidence about you and present this evidence to the prosecutor and the court in a way that paints you in a positive light. Such positive evidence can come from employers, church or community service organizations you are associated with, family members and friends, and others who may be able to provide information about your background. In some cases, we are even able to secure positive information from the alleged victim or the victim’s family.
Such background information, when presented properly, can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend in custody, regardless if you have confessed or been convicted of the crime.
Wallin & Klarich Can Help You – Give Us A Call Today
Our team of criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have decades of criminal defense experience in Southern California. We have successfully defended thousands of people charged with child molestation offenses. We’re confident that we can help you as well.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Los Angeles, West Covina, Torrance and San Diego, our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys are available to help you no matter where you may be.
Contact us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
[iii] Coerced False Confessions During Police Interrogations