Interviewing The Psychopath
Because of the psychopath’s high level of self confidence, he often believes that he does not need an attorney. A psychopath is likely to waive his Miranda rights and agree to be interviewed. During the interview he is easily engaged and appears to be helpful and cooperative. In reality this “cooperative facade” allows the psychopath to manipulate the investigator with the intent to convince the investigator of his innocence.
The challenge in interviewing a psychopath is that, depending on the degree of psychopathy, the suspect may exhibit minimal behavior symptoms of deception when lying. This includes the lack of specific nonverbal or paralinguistic behaviors reflecting anxiety, guilt, fear or low confidence. Similarly, on the verbal level, the psychopath may not reduce anxiety by using memory qualifiers e.g., “to the best of my knowledge.”
In fact, psychopaths often tell bold lies that invite a challenge, e.g., “I had nothing to do with this whatsoever. I’ll give you my fingerprints because I know you won’t find them at the crime scene.” Later, the investigator finds the suspect’s fingerprints all over the crime scene. Needless to say, when a suspect exhibits psychopathic traits the investigator should not take anything the suspect says at face value. Rather, the investigator should carefully document the suspect’s alleged credentials or alibi, obtain exemplars, get blood sample, take fingerprints etc. and check everything out.
The psychopath’s weakness is within his attitudes. During an interview he will come across as unconcerned (inappropriate levity, express leniency toward the guilty party), offer unrealistic assessments of the crime, and express insincere emotions. The predominant feature is the absence of anxiety or concern that is typically observed from innocent suspects. Moreover, because psychopaths engage in spontaneous behavior, often there is clear evidence that places them at the crime scene or with the victim. Of course, when confronted with the evidence, the suspect will have an explanation for the evidence and protest his innocence with a great deal of conviction.