Most often, when a client comes to my office charged with a sex crime (child pornography, solicitation, sex with an underage minor, et cetera), one of the first questions asked, is if they willingly spoke with the police (Special Agents, FBI, ICE, Postal Inspector, Homeland Security). Most often the answer is yes, which invariably, the Court’s treat the discussion as a voluntary confession. It is the Holy Grail of police work. The most common methods the police employ in getting an individual to confess, are as follows:
1. Arriving at a suspect’s home very early in the morning, usually stating they just want to ask a few questions. This is called a “knock and talk.” The police know this time of day is when a person is most vulnerable – he has just gotten out of bed, his family may still be asleep, his wife\lover may be unaware he has been using the computer for sexual gratification, or he is not awake enough to realize he should say nothing and ask for a lawyer. Most often, the individual will invite the agents into his home asking them to be quiet and not tell his family anything.
2. Calling a suspect on the phone inviting him to come down to the station to answer a few questions. This is often a two part strategy – he is placed in a room far from any activity in the station, and he is told he is there voluntarily and is free to leave (maybe a drink is offered). He is seated in a corner. Trusting statements are offered and the suspect is disarmed. Shortly afterwards, another agent will arrive, and the individual may then be subjected to a grueling interrogation (that the police prefer to call “an interview”).
In both of these situations, most courts will rule that the individual was not in custody, that their statements were voluntary, and that no Miranda Warnings were necessary or were waived.