Interview and Interrogation

Interview sample

While carrying out an interrogation, there may arise common difficulties for an interrogator on the way to the truth. One of the most common obstacles is when a suspect denies that he/she was involved in an incident. In any case, an interrogator must be ready for a denial and well prepared for it. Hence, it is of great importance to understand and differentiate between two types of denial: an emphatic denial and an explanatory denial.

The first type of denial an interrogator may be faced with is an emphatic denial. Most commonly this type of denial is used by a suspect during the first phase of any investigation. When a suspect hears the accusation, his/her first reaction to it is the response that he/she did not do it. Such a spontaneous reaction may confuse an interrogator and he/she may get nervous. The emphatic denial may be of different forms. One of them is when a suspect physically denies the accusation. It is, for example, shaking the head in response. Another form of emphatic denial is verbal denial, i.e. responding verbally to the question, “I did not do it”. In case of emphatic denial, the most common mistake of an interrogator is explaining the facts of evidence and presenting them to a suspect. Instead of acting like this, the actions of an interrogator should be the following: firstly, when he/she notices that a suspect begins to deny the accusation physically, he/she should immediately interrupt him and then proceed with his/her rationalization. It is possible that a suspect may resort to verbalizing his/her denial. In a situation like this, an interrogator should go back to the accusation and rationalization.

Apart from it, an interrogator should pay attention to the frequency of occurrence of emphatic denial and its strength. With time it will become noteworthy that denials occur more or less frequent and also they strengthen or weaken. According to the results of such an observation, an interrogator comes to the conclusion whether a suspect moves towards his/her confession or he/she is not guilty.

When an interrogator notices that emphatic denials do not weaken and nothing of the mentioned above helps, then he/she may use some facts of evidence but not all at once. Another way out of the situation is to drop the interrogation for some time.

There is also singled out an explanatory denial, which mainly follows the emphatic one. Using this type of denial, a suspect tries to persuade an interrogator that he/she could not do this or that because of some reasons. When an interrogator notices that a suspect stops denying emphatically and begins to use excuses. He/she may attribute it to some kind of progress. Nevertheless, explanatory denials are very often difficult to disprove. For instance, a suspect may say, “I would not do it because I do not want to risk my reputation”. Making such a confession, a suspect tries to move away from the incident and rationalization. Instead of disproving the fact, an interrogator should accept his/her excuse and try to develop it to understand how a suspect thinks. Another good way to move towards confession is to mention the circumstances under which the incident happened. For example, an interrogator may say, “I perfectly understand you because if I were you, I would do the same and every person would do the same”. It is a kind of justification for a suspect and it leads him/her to the conclusion that his/her guilt is minimized (in fact, it is not).

To conclude, both types of denial are different but they are closely related: mostly, in the process of interrogation the explanatory denial follows the emphatic one. Consequently, an interrogator should be aware of both types of denial to know what methods to use in the process of interviewing and interrogation.

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Sennewald, C. A., & Christman, J. (2008). Retail crime, security and loss prevention: an encyclopedic reference. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Stephenson, P. (2000). Investigating computer-related crime. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press.

Zulawski, D. E., Wicklander, D. E., Sturman, Sh. G., Wayne Hoover, L. (2002). Practical aspects of interview and interrogation. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press.

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