It is important to know the differences between interviews and interrogations because they are different. Interviews are non-accusatory question and answer sessions with a suspect, victim or witness, and used for the purpose of gathering information from people who have or may have knowledge about a specific criminal case. It is important for interviewers to gain a trust with their interviewee in order to obtain more information. If an interviewer becomes accusatory or challenges the interviewee, it is likely the interviewee will stop answering questions or be vague about the information. If the subject does not feel threatened or attacked they will give more information, leading to a greater chance to solve the case.
Interviews can be conducted in any environment, whether it be at the subjects home, at the crime scene or, ideally, an interview room (Inabu, et al. 2015, p.4). Questioning during interviews is often free flowing and usually not pre-planned. Interviewers should ask broad questions to obtain information and not lead the interviewee to any coerced answers. Many people in the criminal justice department believe that the questioner should speak about 20% of the time while the suspect, victim or witness should talk about 80% of the time (Reid, et al. 2012). To achieve this, the officer should keep the questions as open-ended and vague as possible, to get a narrative response from the subject.
Note taking is recommended for the officer to do, especially since interviews are not always tape-recorded. Notes are important because not only will you have a record of what the subject responded to the questions, but also the notes will slow down the pace of the questions. It is believed that slowing the interview will make it more difficult for the subject to lie because they will gain a greater anxiety during the silence, and display certain behaviors that the officer could observe. Another importance of slowing down the questioning is if the subject is innocent, they may become “confused or flustered when being asked many rapid-fire questions” (Inabu, et al., 2015, p. 4).
It is important to know that during an interview, the witness, victim or suspect do not have their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination nor do the Miranda Rights need to be read off because they are not in custody. The victim, witness or possible suspect has the right to remain silence, and end the interview at any stage. When an officer becomes suspicious about a particular suspect’s innocence, the interview will become an interrogation.
Interrogations are accusatory and designed to determine if a particular suspect is guilty and obtain a confession to the crime. There are four commonly recognized objectives to the interrogation process: “to obtain valuable facts, eliminate the innocent, identify the guilty and obtain a confession” (Leo, 2008. p.1). Interrogations are always conducted in a...