Can a confession that I was tricked into making be used against me? 52 Answers as of October 12, 2011

I shoplifted at work, but made it home. Lost prevention called and asked if I took something without paying. I said I did. They said to return it and I asked if they were going to call the police. They said no. So the next day I went back. While there they asked me to write a statement. I asked if they were going to call the police. They said no. So I did and then they called the police to have me arrested. I would have chosen my right to remain silent but they lied to me which I thought violated my rights to speak to an attorney first or stay quiet until I can get one. But since I thought they were not going to call the police I saw no harm in it. Can they use that as evidence against me since they out right lied to get it and denied me of those rights?

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Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
The short answer is most likely yes since they are not police but only Loss prevention and can lie to you. Reading you your righrt to remain silent etc only applies if you are in custody of police and only if they are questioning you on specific things. You should hire an attorney.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/12/2011
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
I'd recommend you consult privately with an attorney if you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances. Anyone charged is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor would need to prove any allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. If there are issues with any "confession" or "admission," a timely filed motion to suppress may prohibit those statements from being used against a defendant in a pending case. However, it depends on the circumstances.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/5/2011
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
Possibly but it is a complex area of the law. The police are allowed to lie to you unless it would produce an unreliable statement. The statement cannot be involuntary however and prompted by threats or promises.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/19/2011
Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Riana Durrett
If you are charged with a crime that could involve jail time, then you will have a right to an attorney, even if you cannot afford one. The details of your case should be discussed with the attorney, who should be able to enlighten you on the parameters of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to counsel, the right to remain silent, and other constitutional rights. The right to remain silent and the right to counsel are found in the Bill of Rights, which protect people from government intrusions, not from private parties, unless they are acting under the color of the law or for the government. There may be other grounds to have a confession suppressed, which you can discuss with your attorney.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 9/19/2011
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
Rules about coercive statements generally apply to a government agency. Here, the private store may not be subject to such rules as requiring miranda. I hope that this was helpful.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/16/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    I regret to inform you that what occurred while immoral, is not illegal. Unless there are more details to know, your signed a confession.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
    They certainly can use that against statement against you. It is an admission and therefore it is admissible. There are some limitations on the admissibility of statements involving deception. By the way this statement was not obtained by trick, trick is when the convince you that a situation currently exists but it doesn't exists. They simply promised something that they had no intention of following through on. The other reason why your statements are admissible is this conduct is not government conduct. The government is subject to some limitations, private citizens are not subject to the same limitations. Even if the government had done this it would still be admissible. The only time a statement is not admissible is when the government coerces a statement from a person. An example of that would be if the police told you that your family was about to be killed and the only way you could save them is to sign a statement that admits a crime. The fact that they lied to you would not make it inadmissible, the fact that it was not voluntary would make it inadmissible.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We are the Goolsby Law Firm, LLC, criminal lawyers in Augusta, Georgia. We recommend you hire a lawyer ASAP concerning all your rights and options, including a discussion of all the circumstances you describe. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber | Michael R. Garber
    Yes. Your employer is not the police so you don't have a privilege against self-incrimination. You might be able to keep it out of evidence if the court deems it to be hearsay, but I think it's admissible as a declaration against interest and an admission of guilt.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    Since the private security guards were NOT police officers anything you said can be used against you; the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination only protects you against coerced statements given to the police, NOT to non-police officers. In other words, while you HAD the right to remain silent, they did not have to TELL YOU that you had the right to remain silent and therefore the written and oral statement comes into evidence against you at trial.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    Use of a confession is a very fact sensitive issue. You should consult with an attorney to have him review the facts to see if the confession was obtained in violation of your rights. If so, then the court may issue an order that it could not be used as evidence against you.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Loss prevention is not the police and therefore they do not have to give you any kind of Miranda warnings. Regardless, even if they tricked you, they still did not force or coerce you into saying anything and that can still be used against you. Even the police is allowed to "trick" you, they just can't force you. It's usually best not to say or admit to anything. Remember, you are never required to talk to the police or anyone else. Contact a lawyer if you ever have any doubt.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    Loss prevention ain't the police. They do not have to read you your rights or advise that you are about to be arrested. The confession is admissible against you.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    Constitutional rights protect a person from government action not private action. While they were less than honest with you, your constitutional rights do not protect you from actions of a private person such as your employer. You should retain the services of a competent criminal defense attorney to review this matter if you think there are errors.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Harrison & Harrison
    Harrison & Harrison | Samuel Harrison
    Yes, it can be used. The statement was made to the store loss prevention people, not the police, and you were not under arrest.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    Yes, they can. The right against self-incrimination only applies to questioning by police or another government agency.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    There's nothing you can do. Police can lie to you, too. Your statements to the loss-prevention officer can be used against you at trial.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    Hire a good lawyer as he may be able to have the admission suppressed.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
    Unfortunately, you have very little remedies for this type of a trick by a private party as opposed to a governmental agency. If the government performed such a trick on you, you would have a remedy to keep your confession out of evidence.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Of course they can. The police cannot lie to get a confession but the store is not a cop.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Connell-Savela
    Connell-Savela | Jason Savela
    It is possible to allege that this statement is not voluntary and therefore not reliable and therefore should not be admitted at trial. Basically, it was extorted out of you and you only said it to get out of criminal charges. But, since your job is not a state actor (the government), then this issue is not as good. You may need to show that your job was acting as a state actor in using this ruse. That your job has been told by police to do this whenever there is shoplifting. In that situation, they may be acting as the government's agent etc. Get a lawyer if you want to fight this.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law | Michael R. Nack
    You need to hire an attorney. The attorney will determine whether or not there is a defense to the charge and whether or not your rights were violated. I have handled many similar cases, and I might be able to offer my services to you for a reasonable fee.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Yes, they are not the police and those laws to not apply to them. You need a good attorney on board now.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    Miranda Warnings only apply to custodial interrogation by police officers or certain state-sanctioned security officers. It does not apply to private security and the statement may be used against you at trial. I suggest you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you negotiate a plea bargain that does not result in a criminal record for you, as it cannot be expunged if you are found guilty. Legal disclaimer: All answers are for information purposes only. Answering this question or any future questions does not form any attorney-client relationship. Be mindful, that answers are limited by the limited facts presented by the questioner and are not meant to take the place of competent legal advice by an attorney fully informed of all the facts surrounding your case. However, be aware that nothing posted in a public forum such as this can be deemed confidential or privileged communication.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Watkins Law Office
    Watkins Law Office | Bob Watkins
    The constitution is a protection against actions of the STATE. If an employee of a private company lies to you without being directed by a police officer, the constitution is not violated.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Under these circumstances, it can be used against you. I do not see a trick here, not realyy. second, It was not cops, who have to do the tricking and in a custodial place.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Yes. The confession can be used against you. Tricks and misleading defendant's is done all the time.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Laguzzi Law, P.C.
    Laguzzi Law, P.C. | Carina Laguzzi
    Yes. They are not the police and don't have to read you your rights. They didn't trick you, they just lied which they (like any other private citizen) can do. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney and discuss a potential motion to suppress.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    You were not under arrest when you gave the confession, so I doubt that a Motion to Suppress your confession would lie in a court of law. Had you been arrested, then given the confession without being read your rights, you would have a good chance of having the case dropped. Hitre a good criminal defense attorney to represent you and file the motion to suppress anyhow, perhaps the judge will agree to drop your confession, as it was given under false pretenses.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law | Michael Maltby
    This evidence can be used against you. There is no law against your employer tricking you into confessing. You only have a right to remain silent and a right to an attorney when you are in police (government) custody.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    You didn't make a statement to law enforcement while in custody. Your Miranda rights were not triggered. The loss prevention officers were not acting on behalf of the government. So your statement comes in.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    I am very sorry that this happened but the police may use your confession. Since the confession was made by private citizens and not the police, the 4th amendment does not attach and a motion to suppress the confession would not likely succeed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Neal L. Weinstein
    Law Office of Neal L. Weinstein | Neal L. Weinstein
    Yes, the statements you made can be used against you. Even the police can lie to you and use statements obtained against you in trial. However, the fact that you admitted to the theft and returned the merchandise will help you get a better negotiated settlement with the DA, assuming you hire and experienced criminal lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Maine
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Your first mistake was to steal. Your second mistake was to admit to the theft. The Miranda rule does not apply to employers. If you were more sophisticated you would have calmly denied the allegations and called an attorney. In life what you don't know can hurt you. You must make better decisions in the future. You will now have a criminal record for the rest of your life and it will be harder to get a good job or career. All you can do is to retain a good criminal attorney to try to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a violation that is not a criminal conviction. If you have no prior records and it is a misdemeanor a good lawyer may be able to get the charge reduced to a Disorderly Conduct or get an ACD dismissal. If it is a felony, over $1,000, it will be much more difficult to get a reduced plea.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    Unfortunately, the Miranda warnings only apply to police questioning when you're in custody and not to private situations like store employees. Having said that, there may still be things your attorney can do to minimize the impact of the statement and/or work out a disposition to avoid a theft conviction on your record. Every case is unique, so you're going to have to discuss it in greater detail in person with your lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    The statement you wrote will count as an admission. Your workplace does not have to advise you of your rights . You should retain an attorney to represent you ASAP.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    The right to remain silent applies to situations where you are under detention by a government agency. There are situations where non-government people can take up the responsibility of the police and would be bound by the same right to remain silent rules. To know if this applies to your incident I need more facts.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Loss prevention is NOT the police. They are not bound by the "Miranda" rights so the statement comes in but so does the fact that they lied to you. Why would you ever answer such a question except to a priest or your lawyer?
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    Yes. Loss Prevention is a private agency and not the police. They do not have to read you your rights and the fact that they misled you will probably not result in your statement being ruled inadmissible in court.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    Smells like coercion to me. But I need their side of the story. A confession must be freely given and this seems like they coerced you in to giving a statement. And any coerced statement should be suppressed.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    There's no prohibition against using a ruse to obtain a confession. The best policy is to remain silent.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    In all likelihood, the answer is yes. However, suppose it is suppressed, what other kinds of evidence do they have against you?..... surveillance video?..... the fact that you returned stolen property? Your statement may not even be critical to your case. You need to consult with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of William S. Smith
    Law Office of William S. Smith | William S. Smith
    It is more likely than not that yes, they can. The problem here for your argument is that assuming your place of work is a private entity, not a governmental office, the "state action" doctrine would come into play. This means generally that only action that is done by the state (or those employed by it or acting as its agent) is limited by the Constitutional safeguards for criminal defendants. If, however, your employer performed these actions at the behest of the police, for example, then you might have a viable argument that your confession was unlawfully obtained. Moreoever, the problem here is even if this scenario were the case, the right to remain silent (which is part of your Miranda rights) only applies to what the law calls "custodial interrogations." Based on the facts you gave here, it seems unlikely that you were in "custody" for purposes of Miranda. As such, the Miranda warnings need not be given. Further still, as a general proposition, the use of trickery, deceit etc by the police to get a suspect to talk, for that matter, has generally been approved by the courts (though there is some recent litigation on this pending in the high courts of Massachusetts for example). Despite all this, In Massachusetts, a criminal defendant generally has the right to have what is called a "humane practice" jury instruction given to the jury at trial. This tells them, in essence, that they are to consider whether the statements a defendant made- whether to the police or even private actors like here- were voluntary, and if they find they were not they are not to consider them.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Halprin Law Office
    Halprin Law Office | Richard Halprin
    The answer depends on a variety of factors but if the security was from a private agency instead of the police you may be stuck with your admissions. It would be unlikely to be dismissed buy could be used as an argument as to why one might say something just to avoid a criminal prosecution.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of James Christie, LLC
    Law Office of James Christie, LLC | James Christie
    Yes, the signed confession to your employer may be used against you in trial. The Constitution protects individuals from the government, not from other private individuals. Your employer was under no obligation to advise you of your rights before tricking you into signing a confession, nor did you have a constitutional right to speak to a lawyer before admitting your crime. You are only entitled to be provided the Miranda warnings if you are in police custody and about to be questioned. Your posting on this public forum, in which you admit shoplifting from your employer, is also an admission that may be used against you at trial. Any criminal defense lawyer worth his/her salt will always advise clients not only not to speak to police about their case, but also not to speak with anyone about the case.
    Answer Applies to: Alaska
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo | Matthew Murillo
    Yes. Your Miranda rights only apply to police interrogation. The fact that you admitted the theft over the phone may be enough. That said, do not discuss the details with anyone other than an attorney. Especially not on a public website like this, anyone (including your boss or the DA) has access to these things.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Killain R. Jones
    Law Office of Killain R. Jones | Killain Jones
    The rights that you are speaking of only apply to government conduct and not a private party unless they are under the direction of the government agency and is acting as an agent of the government. So your employer does not need to advise you of any right to remain silent and right to an attorney. The statement you made to your employer will likely do used against you unless there are facts that you have not disclosed that can show otherwise. You need an attorney. I hope this helps. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Yes it can. First of all, you have no rights when it involves individual citizens/companies. Rights (at least the ones you're thinking of) are only attached when you are being questioned by the police. Lost prevention is definitely not police.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    Loss prevention is not law enforcement. Whatever they may have told you or did does not effect the charges that may be brought against you, and any dishonesty or deception they may have used cannot be challenged in court.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/15/2011
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