STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE
S.O.P. 8-3 CONFESSIONS AND INTERROGATIONS
To many authorities interrogation is the most important part of an
arrest/investigation since it offers the possibility of determining,
by the statement of the suspects themselves, whether they committed a
particular crime. The techniques to be utilized to interrogate
suspects are outside the scope of this S.O.P. The purpose of these
procedures is to ensure that confessions are obtained voluntarily.
This will allow such statements to be used at trial. Any involuntary
statement, regardless of whether it is true or false, is
non-admissible in court.
- Voluntariness - No attempt will be made to obtain a
statement by force, threats, or promises. Whether an accused
person or a suspect will cooperate is left entirely up to that
individual. If he indicates at any time prior to or during
questioning that he wishes to remain silent, or that he wants an
attorney present, all interrogation must cease. Any confession
induced by the officer "by the slightest hope of benefit or
remotest fear of injury" will not be admissible in court OCGA
- Determination Thereof - The court uses two general standards
in determining voluntariness. These standards are "inherently
coercive" or not the result of "free and unconstrained choice."
Failure to pass either of these standards renders a statement
- Elements of an Inherent Coercion include, but are
not limited to:
- Physical abuse, or the threat of such
- Extended periods of interrogation without break or
access to the outside;
- Unwillingness to permit the accused access to an
attorney, family or friends, especially when an individual
has made some effort to make contact with such persons;
- Severe physical conditions under which the accused is
- A statement may be ruled inadmissible under the Free and
Unconstrained Choice Doctrine when the interrogation practices
used overpower the accused's ability to act in a
self-determined matter. Circumstances and actions which may
violate this doctrine include, but are not limited to:
- Failure to notify the accused of the
- Age, intelligence, experience of the accused;
- Physical condition of the accused;
- Overt force, physical abuse, use of weapons, number of
- Threats and psychological pressure;
- Deprivations of food, sleep, medication;
- Isolation, incommunicado interrogations;
- Duration of questioning;Use of trickery, ruse, or
- Failure to advise the accused of his rights;
- Promises of leniency or other inducements;
It must be noted that the presence of any one or more of
these factors will not necessarily make a statement
involuntary. Rather the Court will examine the "totality of
circumstances" at the time the statement was obtained.
- Miranda Warnings and Waiver
- The language for the proper warning of rights and
waiver contained on the Agency's Waiver of Rights Form is as
- That I have the right to remain silent and
not make any statements at all, nor incriminate myself in
any manner whatsoever.
- That anything I say can and will be used against me
in a court or courts of law for the offense or offenses
concerning which this statement is herein made.
- That I have the right to talk to a lawyer and have
him present with me while I am being questioned.
- That if I am unable to hire a lawyer I can request
and receive appointment of a lawyer by the proper
authority, without cost or charge to me, to be present
and advise me before and during this statement.
- That I can decide at any time to exercise these
rights and not answer any questions or make any
- I understand each of the above rights that
have been explained to me.
- Having the rights in mind, I wish to waive these
rights and talk voluntary of my own free will and
- Before a statement can be admitted into evidence, the State
must prove that the suspect fully understood the warning and
freely decided to answer questions. A suspect who remains
silent after receiving warnings has not agreed to be
questioned. When possible, a signed waiver shall be
- Request for a Lawyer by an Accused
- If, at any point, the accused request to speak
with an attorney, all questioning must cease. Questioning
by police officers related to the offense(s) may not be
resumed unless the accused initiates the questioning by
requesting to speak with the officer. The officer must
fully document any offer by the accused to speak with
officers after invoking the right to counsel. Only routine,
administrative questions not related to the offense(s) may
be asked after the accused has invoked his/her right to
- If the accused says anything that suggests or implies
that the accused wants to speak to a lawyer, questioning
concerning the offense must cease. The officer may ask the
suspect only questions that will determine whether or not
the accused is invoking the right to counsel. Only if the
accused states clearly and unequivocally that he/she does
not want a lawyer, may questioning continue. Documentation
of this is vital. The following are examples of equivocal
requests for a lawyer:
Accused: "I guess I'm going to see a lawyer sometime."
Accused: "When do you think I'll get to see a lawyer?"
Accused: "My wife informed me to go and get a
Officer Response: "Do you want a lawyer now?"
Only if the accused's answer clearly indicates that
he/she does not want a lawyer will questioning concerning
the crime continue.
- If during the booking process the accused has completed
an Application for Appointment of Counsel and Certificate
of Financial Resources form (as required by USCR 29.3)
and marks the form to request a court appointed lawyer, the
accused has invoked the right to counsel and questioning
- Identification of Investigator - In addition to being given
the Miranda Warnings, the accused shall be advised of the names
and official identity of the interrogating investigator(s) and the
nature of the inquiry.
- Interpreters - When there is doubt of a person's ability to
use and understand the English language, and an officer is not
qualified in the principle language of the person, the officer
will contact his/her supervisor for assistance. The supervisor
will be responsible for obtaining a qualified interpreter. Any
confession made without an interpreter may result in the statement
being rendered inadmissible in court. This policy shall also
apply to those persons who are hearing impaired.
NOTE: For hearing impaired assistance, contact the
Department of Human Resources, Georgia Interpreting Services
Network at 1-800-228-4992 or 404-657-5932
- Documentation of Statement by Accused
- Whenever possible, any statement made by the
accused should be recorded on either audio or video tape. The
recording should include the accused's waiver of rights at both
the beginning and end of the tape. A transcript of all
recorded statements will be made and included in the case
- If is not possible to record the accused's statement, the
officer must fully document the content of the statement.
- Whenever possible, the accused should be asked to sign any
written statement in which a confession or admission of guilt
- Georgia law requires that the State furnish the defendant
with a copy of any statement made while in custody. Failure to
provide the defendant or his/her attorney with a copy of the
statement renders the inadmissible.
NOTE: No later than 10 days prior to trial, the State is
required to disclose to the defendant, or his/her defense
counsel, and make available for copying any relevant written or
oral statement made by the defendant to a person who the
defendant knew to be a law enforcement officer, whether before
or after the arrest. This includes those portions of written
reports that contains the substance of relevant oral statement
made by the defendant. OCGA 17-16-4(a). Failure to disclose a
defendant's statement can result in the court imposing
sanctions, including barring the use of the statement at trial
or taking direct action against the officer(s) involved or the
Agency. OCGA 17-16-6.
- Questioning About Similar Crimes - When interviewing subjects
and suspects, consideration should be given to including questions
as to any knowledge they may have of unresolved cases of a similar
NOTE: The failure to take a defendant before a magistrate or
judge for a first appearance hearing within a reasonable time
period could result in the criminal charge(s) being dismissed.