"The Cop is lying!" How many times have California DUI criminal defense lawyers heard that? Any California driver who comes into contact with the police faces the prospect of facts being reported in such a way designed to CONVICT the driver, regardless of the charge, say California DUI attorneys.
This weekend's New York Times features an article "Why Police Officers Lie Under Oath."
Drunk driving and drugs cases are easy pickings for a cop who wants to fabricate facts, California DUI lawyers maintain. It's more difficult to uncover such police lies as triers of fact are sometimes forced to choose between believing someone who may be DUI (or was reportedly drinking or using drugs) vs. a California Peace Officer, say attorneys.
Trying to prove a cop was lying is extremely challenging. First, it's uncommon for a police officer to openly concede his or her own "lying" or to suggest other officers are not telling the truth.
Second, "the Code of Silence" is a strong tradition among policemen.
Third, even cops are human beings. Humans lie. Every day. Many times. Even when they don't have to. Even if it's about something little.
Fourth, protection of reputation or standing in the police may be motivation to lie.
Fifth, lying allows police quota systems and financial incentives like overtime pay flourish. Stopping, frisking and arresting potential criminals is big business.
The problem is one big police lie may destroy the life of a person accused. The person could lose his or her job, could go to jail, and be subject to the stigma of being a "criminal."
Frightening is the fact that many judges and hearing officer tolerate police lying. The criminal justice system - from New York to California - is arguably corrupt. The public wants to hear police say they are getting tougher on crimes and more people (not less) are being arrest.
Should alleged criminals be considered more trustworthy than police? Maybe. Certainly if the police are inclined to fabricate. The ability to both ascertain a police lie AND expose the police lie requires collection of all facts and courage.
"Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories,
instead of theories to suit facts.”—Sherlock Holmes