In the popular media, police interrogators are often shown to badger suspects or even to become aggressive towards them. The truth is that police officers can generally learn far more about a crime by using much more subtle techniques. This provides them the advantage of not alerting the suspect to their suspicions, which may make a potential suspect less vigilant, and, consequently, they reveal more about their actions than they intend.
Interrogators are trained to listen not only to what is said to them, but how it is said as well. This process is called statement analysis. In statement analysis, interrogators listen for specific language cues as a suspect recounts their story. They pay particular attention to the way that the suspect uses various parts of speech, including nouns,verbs and pronouns among others, in order to detect lies and omissions.
When a suspect is interrogated, they are usually asked to verbally recount their version of the events. While this may seem harmless at face value, detectives can learn a great deal simply by the way the suspect describes the person or place in question, particularly if how the person or place is described changes during the narrative. If a suspect says 'my wife' in describing her murder, but shifts to using the wife's name at a later point, this can indicate to officers that something changed at that point in time. It may lead them to conclude that the husband is responsible for the death, or that he has more knowledge about it than he is willing to reveal.
A suspect's use of pronouns can also be very telling. Using the pronoun 'we' generally indicates a sense of unity and cooperation. When someone is guilty of a crime, they will often involuntarily switch from using the pronoun 'we' to using 'he and I' or 'she and I' because they wish to disconnect themselves from the criminal act. Most suspects are not at all aware that they are giving the interrogators these clues and they may unintentionally cast suspicion on themselves.
The same is true of verb usage as well. Guilty suspects often alert investigators to their guilt by switching verb tenses during their narrative. It is natural to describe past events using the past-tense and most people do it unconsciously when they are telling a story. Often, however, people who are guilty switch to the present tense during the part of the narrative that they are fabricating. This is a huge clue to investigators to pursue the line of questioning more fully.
Although suspects can't be convicted of a crime solely on the way they use words, these subtle clues can indicate other avenues for an officer to investigate more fully. Because these techniques are subtle and open to interpretation, it is generally advisable to allow an attorney to speak for you if you are a suspect in a crime, even when you are innocent. Having an attorney speak on your behalf will nullify this kind of investigative technique and the potential for inadvertent self-incrimination. For more information on how working with an attorney can help in your case, go to http://www.gdamianilaw.com.