Personal Attention.
Aggressive Defense.

Photo of Thomas C. Mooney

Under pressure: The role of anxiety in criminal interrogations

On Behalf of | May 29, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Facing a police interrogation can be terrifying, and it is natural to feel anxious under such high-pressure circumstances. Anxiety can manifest in various ways, impacting both the psychological state and physical demeanor of an individual.

During an interrogation, heightened anxiety may lead to rapid heartbeat, sweating, and trembling hands—signs that also resemble deceit. Knowledge of anxiety can help you manage it in high-pressure situations.

Its cognitive and behavioral impact

Cognitively, anxiety can cloud judgment, disrupt concentration and impair memory recall. For instance, you might struggle to provide consistent accounts of events, which can be detrimental in a legal setting where clarity and accuracy are paramount.

Moreover, the stress of the situation can lead to behavioral changes, such as avoidance of eye contact or nervous fidgeting, which could also look like indicators of guilt.

Its strange psychological effects

The psychological strain of an interrogation can make defendants susceptible to coercive tactics. High stress levels can increase suggestibility, making individuals more likely to agree with leading questions or even admit to things they have not done. Unfortunately, this is particularly concerning as it raises the risk of false confessions.

The power of silence

Since stress and fear can have a clear effect on your responses during a criminal interrogation, it may be best not to respond. Exercise your constitutional right to remain silent and refrain from answering police questions. Not participating in the interview can go a long way in helping you avoid unintentional self-incrimination.

The Constitution also gives you the right to legal representation when facing criminal charges. Exercising this right means having someone with your best interests in mind manage future communications with law enforcement if necessary.

It also opens the door to the possibility of overcoming or minimizing your circumstances.