c. False Accusers. An accuser may make a charge that will later prove false.
Sometimes such a charge will persist until a trial is conducted.
A false charge
is, at times, an exaggerated version of an actual crime of a lesser nature, or is
sometimes made when no offense has been committed. False charges are prevalent in
theft cases, and are common in sex crimes and other crimes in which men and women
are involved. A false charge may represent the sincere, though erroneous thinking
of the victim.
It may rest on the victim's reaction to previous ill will,
suspicion, or jealousy.
All of your skill is required in the initial interview
with an accuser to separate truth from false hoods.
Reliability of Information. Certain human factors will affect your success in
getting people to talk. It also influences the accuracy of their information. You
must evaluate each person and his evidence; understand the person's motivations,
fears, and mental makeup; use this understanding of the person to gain useful
You must consider the following factors and how they affect the
accuracy of the information given by a person.
The truth of the information from an interview or an
interrogation is influenced by the subject's ability to perceive correctly what
happened in his presence, and to transmit it correctly to you. A weakness in his
ability to see, hear, smell, taste, or touch should be understood as well as his
location in relation to the incident. Rarely do two people give the same account
of the same incident.
b. Memory. A lapse of time since the incident, or the person's having had no
reason for attaching much importance to it at the time both influence his memory or
recall. The account given at a later time is often affected by what he has heard
or seen about it since.
Furthermore, a person may fill in the gaps in his
knowledge by rationalizing what he did see or hear and may repeat the entire mixed
up story to you as the truth.
To prevent this, a person should be talked to as
soon as possible after the incident. Even then all of your skill will be required
to discover what the person actually did observe.
Witnesses to Interviews and Interrogations.
a. When too many persons are present, a person is usually reluctant to tell
all that he knows about the incident. The presence of too many persons has been
held by the courts to be duress. On the other hand, someone should be present to
witness the questioning, any statements made, and to protect you against a possible
charge of coercion or duress.
Not more than two agents should be present in the
room. When more than two persons have an official interest, the other persons may
witness the questioning from behind an observation mirror where they will be out of
sight, but where they can still see and hear everything.