False Confessions – When a Lie Isn’t Actually A Lie Pt. 3



Thank you for joining us for the third installment in this series on false confessions, and the Reid technique of interrogation. Today we want to break down the controversial Reid technique, which law enforcement agencies all over Michigan and the US use for interviewing and interrogating suspects during criminal investigations. It is a technique that John E. Reid & Associates claims is flawless if used properly, but many others disagree. Let’s take a look.


The Reid technique uses a three step process which starts with fact analysis, then introduces behavior analysis, and finally uses the Reid Nine Steps of interrogation. This is where it gets contentious. During the behavior analysis, the interrogator conducts a non-accusatory interview which is designed simply to establish a “baseline” for the suspect’s behavior when they do not believe that they are under pressure. The Reid Nine Steps of Interrogation is where the accusations begin.


During the Reid technique, the investigator tells the suspect that all of the results of the investigation clearly point back to them (the suspect) as the one who committed the crime. The investigator lays it out as if they were telling a story about an event that they already know most, if not all, of the details about. It is shared in a conversational tone, as if the fact that the suspect’s guilt is not in question, but rather is already a known fact.


The interrogator maintains a respectful and conversational tone throughout. They present an understanding and patient demeanor so that the suspect feels more relaxed about telling the truth. The interrogator also provides a variety of suggested justifications for the suspect’s criminal behavior, saying things like, “So, did you have this in mind when you purchased the gun, or was it more of an impulse situation?” The implication here is that regardless of which option the suspect chooses, they are still admitting guilt.


For those of you who would like to know, the Reid Nine Steps of Interrogation look like this:


  • Direct confrontation: telling the suspect that the evidence points to them. Offer them a chance to explain themselves.
  • Shift the blame: point out reasons, circumstances and individuals who could have led the accused to commit the crime, thereby making it “not their fault.”
  • Keep denials to a minimum: don’t give the suspect a chance to deny the accusation.
  • Use suspect’s explanation to support your point: when the suspect explains why they couldn’t have done what they’re accused of, use this as a form of cknowledgement.
  • Be sincere: this will ensure that the suspect is receptive to you.
  • Supply alternatives: by now the suspect is arguing less, shift the discussion towards alternatives. If the suspect cries, point out that it implies guilt.
  • Ask the ‘alternative question’: provide two choices for what happened, with one being more socially acceptable than the other, which allows the suspect a chance to look “less guilty.”
  • Repetition of confession: get the suspect to repeat their confession in front of witnesses.
  • Document the confession: ensure that you have a documented copy of the suspect’s confession, whether audio, visual or written.


Many people all over the world, including here in Michigan, believe that the Reid technique is an unacceptable method of interviewing suspects. The reason for this is that there have been countless instances where people have made false confessions to crimes, because they were bullied or coerced during the interrogation. In these cases, falsely accused suspects have been treated aggressively, frightened, threatened, and lied to about how much evidence supports the claim against them. It is important to remember that a suspect that is being interrogated by a trained and experienced police officer, is no match for the officer. It’s never a level playing field. That’s why the criminal defense attorneys at The Kronzek Firm always give the same advice: no discussions with police until your attorney is present.


Join us next time for the wrap up of this series, where we will be discussing false confessions here in Michigan, and what state law has to say about it. Until then, if you or a loved one have been falsely accused of a crime in Michigan, contact our offices immediately. A skilled defense attorney is standing by to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The attorneys at Kronzek Firm have many years of experience fighting false allegations and protecting the rights of our clients. We can help you too by calling us at 1 866-766-5245!


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