Difference Between Interview And Interrogation

What is the difference between an interrogation and an interview in the context of police investigations?

Asked on by kc76384

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The basic difference here is that an interview is typically a less formal and accusatory conversation whose main point is to elicit information whereas an interrogation is formal and is mainly designed to get a suspect to confess.

An interview is generally an interaction between police officers and witnesses or victims in an investigation.  There are times when a suspect will be interviewed as well.  The point of the interview is simply to get more information.  An interview is meant to find out what the witness saw.  It can help to determine what information the witness knows, what other witnesses might be found, and other things that are of importance to the police.  The same is true when interviewing a victim.

By contrast, an interrogation is an interaction between police officers and a suspect.  Victims and witnesses are not interrogated.  Interrogations generally take place in a situation in which the suspect is in custody. The officers are not primarily trying to get information.  Instead, they are trying to get the suspect to confess.  Therefore, police who are doing an interrogation may bluff or deceive the suspect.  Their goal is to obtain a confession.

mlsldy3's profile pic

mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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During a police investigation, there are times when people will be interviewed about things they may have witnessed. Police use this tactic to try to determine if a suspect is telling the truth or being evasive about the truth. An interview is a way for the police to determine which people might be a good witness or who a suspect is. Victims are also interviewed to get all the information needed to proceed with an investigation. An interview is a non-accusatory question and answer session. Police use it to make a judgement about a suspect's credibility. Some questions will be investigative in nature, but not accusing.

An interrogation, on the other hand, is way of getting the truth from a suspect. Police will usually determine in an interview if a suspect is lying, so an interrogation is used to present a description of the crime in narrative so as to encourage a person being interrogated to tell the truth. Evidence based arguments that are logical or that provide rationale are also used to encourage the truth. When a person being interrogated shows signs of being willing to tell the truth, then a questioning process, designed to encourage communication of a fact, begins. If a subject clarifies a single fact, the interrogation has led toward admission. 

It is important to distinguish between interview and interrogation because interview discloses information the exposes lies while interrogation exposes truth. Exposing truth depends upon gathering correct and sufficient information.

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jameadows's profile pic

jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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An interview is a conversation between a police officer and another person, who could be a victim or witness, about an event. Interviews can be less structured, and the goal is to put the other person at ease so that he or she will tell the police officer what he or she knows.

The interrogation, on the other hand, involves the suspicion on the part of the police officer that the person he or she is speaking with is somehow involved in the event. The goal of an interrogation is to get the person to admit guilt or involvement in the incident under investigation, and therefore it is more structured than an interview. In addition, the person the police officer is speaking with must be informed of his or her rights. Interrogations can be accusatory in nature, meaning that the person the police officer is speaking to is accused of having committed a crime upfront and has to confirm or deny it. Other interrogations can be non-accusatory or non-confrontational, meaning that the police officer attempts to get information out of the person without accusing him or her of a crime. In both interview and interrogations, police officers must use keen powers of observations to understand who they are speaking with and to try to patiently get information out of them. 

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