Lessening the impact- Look for soft tone in investigations

When interviewing a suspect, which could be addressing your 15 year old son’s less than impressive report card or a criminal offender, look for how the subject addresses the crime in question.  If he is softening his tone, you might have your crook.  For example:

Interviewer:  “Why do you think you are here (being questioned) today?”

Suspect: “I heard some money is missing.”

The suspect uses soft tone with “missing”.  While he may not be the thief, he hasn’t given us the best answer so we can’t eliminate him yet.  Better would be “There was a theft”, which is declarative, indicating honesty and openness.

Innocent people tend to address the crime in question in a direct manner and do not try to soften its impact.  In a sexual battery case on a minor that I investigated, the suspect responded to the question (as stated above) with “The girl might have been touched.”.  That girl was his own daughter, so we had obvious distancing language and passive tone, but more importantly, he used the word “touched”.  This was his way of defending himself against the impending charges that he was well aware would be coming his way (and did).  Molesting and “touching” are clearly not the same.

Look for your suspect to understate the crime- this can be an indicator of guilt!


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