Duringinstances of criminal investigations, two essential tools can beemployed in the acquisition of information concerning the wrongdoing.The two means include interviews and interrogations. Implementingthese key concepts requires knowledge and skills that have beenadequately perfected. Despite having the prowess, it is important tonote that in some instances, not all witnesses are willing to openup. Usually, witnesses tend to possess certain perceptions, thoughts,motivations and fears that affect their responses when interviewed orinterrogated. Likewise, obtaining information from a broad range ofdemographic groups could have its implications.
Theseinfluences range from old age, inability to communicate using thecommon language, people with disabilities who may need specialconsideration and factors related to time and place of the activity.Both personal and environmental conditions have to be considered andadapted to efficiently. For a successful process to be attained, theinterviewer or interrogator has to take into consideration both thephysical and psychological aspects that may hinder or encouragesharing of information. As such, the central area that is interestinginvolves the motivation, perception, and barriers to effectiveinterrogation and interviewing.
Thecourse of obtaining relevant information from an individual, whethera suspect or a witness is a complex one. This difficulty can beattributed mainly to the incentives, awareness and the actualknowledge of the person as well as the potential obstacles that mayhinder progress. People tend to behave in varied ways and thecharacter, personal attributes, attitudes and sensitivities arehighly diverse, hence making categorization of individualities a hardtask to achieve.
Apparently,the diversification of witnesses influences the kind of response thatwill be elicited during an interview. Nevertheless, some simplegroups can be created to fit the general descriptions. Some of thepeople can be honest and open with the urge to give out all theappropriate information that they have into the interrogator.However, care must be taken with such witnesses since the informationthey possess may be affected by factors such as age, physical traits,emotions, and personal viewpoints.
Expertsrecommend that in such situations, it is best to obtain the necessaryinformation first the compare with the narrations later on. Likewise,other witnesses may be withdrawn and unwilling to provide anyinformation. It may be misleading to assume that they are withholdingor they do not know anything. This is because quite a number canchoose to remain silent yet they know something about theinvestigation.
Oneof the aspects that need to be considered during interviewing andinterrogation is creating a rapport with the interviewee in aconducive environment. This is because certain witnesses tend to bereluctant and suspicious if they do not fully understand the motivesand intentions of the interviewer. Establishing a connection is a keyelement here. Once the witness is assured and reassured, only thencan they feel free to disclose what they know. Apart from thisvariation in personality, other barriers to communication ininterrogation do exist, and it is necessary to overcome them forsuccessful retrieval of information regarding criminal activities. Assuch, one of the major setbacks is the language barrier.
Takefor example a law-enforcement officer in the United States trying tointerrogate a witness or a suspect from a non-English Speakingcountry such as Rwanda. On the other hand, a French police officerinterviewing an Egyptian. The message will not be passed without theaid of a translator across a likelihood. Furthermore, even if theinterpreter is present, decoding the language can sometimes lead to aloss of the meaning of information.
Lackof a proper conversation channel will have great implications ininterviewing and interrogating witnesses. Alcohol use and the abuseof other substances is a practice that is currently widespread allover the world. The use of such drugs impairs the normal thinking,perception, and physiological activity. As such, information fromsuch people is not considered reliable and in legal terms suchinformation cannot be applied in the case of a trial [ CITATION Fre13 l 1033 ].
Alongwith the chemicals that have psychological effects, age can also havemultiple negative influences. First, information provided by minorshas to be evaluated based on two aspects. The first is the age of thekid and the second is concerned with the level of education of thejuvenile. The assessment helps in determining whether the young oneis capable of producing authentic and true information [ CITATION Nin11 l 1033 ].
Theelderly cannot be left out in the demographic factors. Similar to theteenagers and children, senior citizens typically present uniquechallenges to the interviewer. As aging sets in, the tendency toforget increases drastically and so does the predisposition towishful thinking. When conducting interviews with the old, theadvanced chronological changes that occur during aging must beconsidered and appreciated for a successful session.
Peoplewith disabilities need to be handled in a different way compared tothat of the general population. Several limitations are present, andthey range from poor vision, hearing, talking and other physicalimpairments. The ability to see clearly is related to old age,although it can also be different from one person to another.Eyesight is a structural unit that can be maintained by some peopleeven when they grow old without the use of glasses.
Disregardingthe support, a significant percentage of senior men and womentypically experience severe alterations in the visual functionality.Statistics indicate that people aged 65 years and above account forapproximately a half of the legally blind individuals in the UnitedStates of America alone. The ability to see is not limited to theaged only. Some people may have been born blind or because ofaccidents and injury.
Insuch cases, the interviewer has to appreciate the application ofother senses, including hearing and touch to communicate and extractinformation that may be helpful for the investigation. Hearing lossis another common disability that can be encountered. Such interviewsrequire utmost care in the setting to ensure that the witness iscompletely attentive, the right distance has been maintained, thenoise minimized and the speech is loud enough yet clear.
Fora witness to qualify as a witness in court, he or she must havepersonal testimonials that indicate competency. Several factors canbe laid down for use as the means of evaluating whether an individualis competent or not. These facets include the age, level ofintelligence, the state of mind, associations with the peopleinvolved in the case and any other background behavior and traitsthat may prevent the individual from narrating his testimony [ CITATION Rub16 l 1033 ].
Credibilityalso needs to be reviewed, and this is solely based on the witness’sability to testify a demonstration that is worthy of belief.Apparently, the ability of a person to qualify as a real witness ismultifaceted. One cannot focus on a single characteristic and baseeverything on it. A rational approach needs to be enacted in a waythat puts in mind all the necessary conditions, hence ensuring thatthe information obtained is indeed correct.
Beforeany interrogation and interview can take place, the officer involvedhas to make sufficient preparation to make sure that all thenecessary precautions and influences have been appreciated andcatered for. It is always important to check and countercheck theinformation provided for any loopholes and lack of honesty. Acompetent investigator must always be alert for any form of gaps thatmay have been overlooked. A good example is if a visually impairedindividual claims that they observed a particular activity.
Itis equally important to verify whether the person was wearing glassesor used any other visual assisting device. Furthermore, individualswith hearing impairment may require an individual who understandsbody posture, facial expressions, speech reading and gestures amongothers. A good understanding of sign language can come in handy insuch scenarios.
Overall,the investigator is tasked with the responsibility of assessing andevaluating the competency of the witnesses. This work is facilitatedby the fact that some states do not allow testimonies from minorswhile others do not force spouses to testify against each other. Onthe other hand, the investigator, should, and must learn as manycharacteristics of the witness as possible before the interview,during and after the entire session.
Hutson-Ellenberg, R. (2016). Making a Confession: Police Interrogations and the Intellectually Disabled. Retrieved from http://lawstreetmedia.com/blogs/entertainment-blog/making-confession-police-interrogations-intellectually-disabled/
Inbau, F. E. (2013). Criminal Interrogation and Confessions. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Totenberg, N. (2011). High Court: Age Must be Considered in Interrogation. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2011/06/17/137236801/high-court-age-must-be-considered-in-interrogation