Emergency legal advice for detainees who want to exercise their right to silence must take into account interrogation tactics and strategies. As stated by Moldaver, J.A., since appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, and then speaking for a unanimous Ontario Court of Appeal in R. v. McKenzie, (2002) O.J. No. 3029, at para. 37:

The appellant in the instant case did not receive the benefit of legal advice - advice which would have alerted him not only to his rights but also to various types of police conduct of which he should be wary. Absent such advice, the appellant was particularly vulnerable and susceptible to being manipulated into a mental state in which he was more likely to talk…. [emphasis added]

Police interrogation strategies constitute a calculated psychological exercise in trying to obtain information from a detainee. Verbal persuasion and manipulation, rather than physical violence and oppression, are the order of the day in Canada.

Every interrogation is different. The interrogator's selection of techniques will depend upon the unique characteristics of the suspect and the offence. The progress of an interrogation is also improvisational in nature as it depends upon the responses of the detainee. Furthermore, some strategies involve more than one interrogator, while others are tailored to circumstances where multiple detainees are under investigation. Finally, the amount of time and resources that the state will invest in trying to obtain information from a detainee will correlate with the seriousness of the matter under investigation.

Future posts in this series will draw from reported cases to examine common interrogation strategies in Canada.


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