In New York, police interrogators are permitted to use the “false evidence ploy” in which they present false evidence or otherwise false statements as true to secure confessions from New Yorkers. Under current law, these confessions are deemed voluntary and admissible in court. The use of false evidence and deception in interrogation raises serious concerns for the validity of convictions in New York.
The practice of lying to suspects — which is banned in Europe, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, and Australia — has resulted in at least 43 known wrongful convictions in New York. That police deception would result in so many wrongful convictions is unsurprising: Psychological research has repeatedly confirmed that “misinformation renders individuals vulnerable to manipulation” and the practice is not supported by most legitimate interrogation experts.
The use of police deception has resulted in some of the most famous cases of wrongful conviction in New York, including the Exonerated Five (of the Central Park jogger case) and Marty Tankleff, who spent 18 years in prison for the murder of his parents, to which he falsely confessed after being lied to by interrogators. New York must reform this practice to restore the integrity of our justice system, reduce wrongful convictions, and ensure that criminals do not walk free while innocent people are incarcerated.