How body language myths complicate white-collar investigations

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2022 | White Collar Offenses |

Responsibility for white-collar criminal offenses often comes down to a combination of impact, intent and knowledge. Those committing fraud or embezzlement may create fake paper trails to cover their tracks or may involve others in their schemes so that it is harder for investigators to directly tie them to specific acts of financial misconduct.

As someone involved in a white-collar criminal investigation or facing charges, how you present your circumstances can have a major impact on your defense options. Unfortunately, inaccurate ideas about body language can hurt people who are facing criminal accusations.

Your nerves can work against you in an interview

People with anxiety disorders and those who are more introverted may give off signs implying they feel guilty or they have not told the truth when in fact they just are not ready to handle police questioning. Too often, officers leap to conclusions based on someone’s appearance, but research makes it clear that even the best-trained professionals are not skilled at detecting liars.

Criminal courts usually do not allow the use of evidence based on lie detectors because research has shown that people with serious personality or mental health disorders can manipulate the testing process and pass without presenting any signs of lying. On the other hand, someone who is anxious might look like a liar based on their bodily responses when in fact they are just nervous.

Even without a lie detector test, misconceptions about body language may lead investigators to suspect someone who truly had no involvement in a criminal scheme. An officer’s testimony about your behavior could have a strong impact on the case against you.

Police interviews can be risky

Minimizing police interactions helps protect you from misunderstandings. Even if you have nothing to hide, invoking your right to remain silent and your right to a lawyer’s assistance could help you avoid a scenario in which your body language or natural expressions of nervousness lead to assumptions of your guilt. You may also need to challenge the state’s interpretation of your behavior if it comes up later in court.

Knowing and asserting your rights will be the first step in successfully defending against white-collar criminal charges.