. To secure evidence that may establish the guilt or
complicity of a suspect, to help in the recovery of fruits
of the crime, or identify accomplices
You must become thoroughly familiar with the
military and civilian laws that apply to the specific
offense under investigation before conducting an
A knowledge of these laws assists you in
evaluating the relevancy of information you receive.
You must avoid any oversight or mistake that would
impair the value of the results of your investigation to
the person or agency using the results in a legal action.
Often, through questioning a witness about one offense,
you may develop investigative leads related to other
offenses. This additional information may be of value
to other investigative agencies.
Human factors affect success in stimulating the
subject to talk and influence the accuracy or truthfulness
of the information that you secure from him or her.
Evaluate each subject and the evidence he or she
furnished; attempt to understand the subjects
motivations, fears, and mental makeup; and use your
understanding of the subject to gain useful information.
In selecting a technique of interview, consider the
PERCEPTION AND MEMORY. The validity
of the information divulged during an interview is
influenced by the subjects ability to perceive correctly
what happened in his or her presence, to recollect that
information, and to transmit it correctly. A mistake
made in recalling a particular incident is often caused by
. A weakness in the subjects ability to see, hear,
smell, taste, or touch.
l The location of the subject in relation to the
incident at the time it occurred. Rarely do two people
give the same account of an incident witnessed by them.
. A lapse of time since the occurrence of the
incident or the subject having had no reason for
attaching much importance to it when it occurred. The
account given an incident at a later time is often colored,
consciously or unconsciously, by what the subject has
heard or seen regarding the incident since it occurred.
Furthermore, a subject may fill in the gaps in his or her
knowledge of a particular incident by rationalizing what
he or she actually did see or hear and may repeat the
entire mixture of fabrication and fact to you as the truth.
Therefore, a subject should be interviewed as soon as
possible after the occurrence of an incident. Even then
all your skill is required to discover what the subject
PREJUDICE. When making a statement, the
subject may be influenced by prejudice. You should be
alert to this possibility and attempt to discover the
motivation behind such prejudice. A statement
influenced by prejudice should be carefully evaluated
and closely examined for reliable information that may
be helpful in the investigation.
RELUCTANCE TO TALK. You may meet a
person who is reluctant to divulge information. You
must legally overcome this reluctance to secure the
information you need. The most common reasons for
reluctance to talk are as follows:
. Fear of self-involvement.
Many persons arc
unfamiliar with investigative methods to the extent that
they are afraid to give the investigator their aid. They
may have committed a minor offense that they believe
will be brought to light upon the least involvement with
authorities. They may have the opinion that the incident
that occurred is not their business or that guilt lies jointly
on the victim and the accused.
They may fear the
publicity that may be given to persons involved in any
way with criminal cases.
Many persons disclaim
knowledge of incidents because they do not wish to be
inconvenienced by being subjected to questioning or by
being required to appear in court.
. Resentment toward authority. This resentment
may be present particularly among persons who do not
have a positive loyalty to the organized community.
Sometimes the resentment manifests itself as sympathy
for an accused who is regarded as an underdog pitted
against the impersonal, organized forces of society
represented by the authorities.
PERSONALITY CONFLICT. The lack of
success in an interview may be caused by a personality
conflict between the interviewer and the subject. When
that is the case, you should voluntarily recognize this
fact and, before all chances of success are lost, withdraw
in favor of another interviewer. The subject may feel a
willingness to talk to the new interviewer after his or her
experience with an objectable one.
REFUSAL TO TALK. A recognized weakness
of the interview technique is that no person can legally
be made to talk if he or she is not willing to do so. No
person capable of committing a crime should be
expected to confess his or her guilt.