We use both our own and third-party cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. If you continue to browse, we consider that you accept the use of these.
  • Celebrating 20 Years of Training Excellence 2004-2024

Obtaining a Letter of Apology

You’ve completed your interview and the suspect has confessed his culpability in the crime. Now what? When you get to court, the defense may attempt to suppress the confession, most likely by utilizing the argument that it was coerced. One way to refute this claim as false is by demonstrating the voluntariness of the confession by obtaining a letter of apology from the suspect.

If a suspect confesses, you can usually persuade him to write an apology letter – obviously, no confession, no letter. An apology letter helps the prosecutor prove that the subject’s statements and confession were voluntary. While nothing beats great evidence, a letter written voluntarily to the victim (or a witness, the District Attorney, the Judge, the Jury, etc.), refutes the coercion argument and is one more nail in the coffin for your case. Defense attorneys hate to see an apology letter included as evidence.

To obtain a letter of apology from a confessed subject, keep in mind the following:

• The purpose of the letter is NOT to acquire a detailed written confession, but to reinforce their guilt and culpability.

• An apology letter constitutes a “softer” form of a written confession and is an excellent piece of evidence.

• Sell the letter as a means of showing remorse for act(s). In other words, persuade the subject to write the letter to convince others he is truly sorry for his actions. Explain that your report will be black and white and will not contain those sorts of emotional details.

• Say to the subject: “I’m going to give you an opportunity that I’ve given everyone that has sat in the same chair you’re sitting, and they’ve all taken me up on it.” This is a technique used by sales professionals. You’re planting the seed that if “everyone” else has done this, it’s a good idea for him to do it as well.

• Do not ask the subject if he wants to write the letter. Simply provide the subject with pen and paper, and the choice as to whom to write the letter. While you NEVER dictate, you CAN give a suspect some direction for what to write.

IMPORTANT: Please remember Officer Safety comes first. A pen or pencil is a potential deadly weapon the suspect can use against you by striking your eyes and throat quickly.

• Exit the room and allow the subject to write. The act of you leaving the room, more than anything else, demonstrates the voluntariness of the letter and his statements. This gives the prosecutor the ammunition to demonstrate voluntariness-while the subject was alone in the room, he could have written ANYTHING (or nothing at all, for that matter). The fact that he writes an incriminating statement-on his own-shows he did so of his own free will.

• If you believe the letter is not adequate because it lacks important facts about the case, you can always ask the subject to write a second letter and reference the crime by name and a few details. Remember-you must keep and introduce the first letter as evidence. Just state that you offered the suspect an opportunity to write another letter that provided the reason he/she was apologizing.

• Read (or have subject read) letter out loud and onto the audio recording. Be sure to attach the letter to the report.

These are just a few basic details of the process for obtaining letters of apology. What about subjects who are not able to write in English? Or cannot write at all? To learn more about these unique situations and other strategies for obtaining and keeping incriminating statements admissible, attend our three day Interview & Interrogation class.

  • This training provided the useful tools necessary for assessing the veracity of a suspected child abuser, which goes a long way in helping to protect children.

    —Sunny Burgan, MSSW, LCSW, Social Work Supervisor, Santa Clara County DFCS
  • Incredible training with amazing real world instruction. I have been taking law enforcement classes for over 30 years and by far this is the best presented and most useful.

    —Det. Brian Dale, Portland Police Bureau
  • I highly recommend this training for any Probation staff who have the necessity to interview/interrogate individuals for investigation purposes.

    —R. Bret Fidler, Santa Clara County Probation Department
  • Effective teaching teams! The presentation of the material was consistently interesting, and intelligent without being too intellectualized.

    —Michele Keller, Deputy Probation Officer, County of Alameda
  • Your training has made the greatest and most direct impact on my assignment of any training class that I've taken.

    —Ken Gelskey, National City Police Department
  • This training by far has been the most informative and most effective I've attended. The instructors engaged the students in a manner that made me want to speak my opinion, ask questions, and participate.

    —Julio Ibarra, Merced County Sheriff’s Office
  • This was, by far, one of the most useful training classes I've attended since becoming an investigator.

    —Steven Aiello, Antioch Police Department
  • It not often that you go to a training that you really, really want to pay attention to. Because of the high quality information and style of presentation, I knew that if I looked away I was going to miss out.

    —Quinten Graves, Oregon State Police
  • Instructional style is engaging and highly effective.

    —George Laing, Fire Prevention Captain, Investigator
  • Your training gave me the confidence and tools to interview the suspect for over 5 hours and to bring a closure to the case.

    —Daniel Phelan, San Jose Police Department
  • The information presented was highly relevant to my job and was presented in a manner that was organized and very easy to digest.

    —Michael McGarvey, California State Prison, San Quentin
  • This was, by far and away the best training I have received in 15 plus years of Law Enforcement. The instructors are experienced, engaging, articulate, and very entertaining. I will be recommending this training to multiple agencies.

    —Mark Paynter, Oregon DOC
  • I will continue to use and pass on this information because I really believe in the instructors and their approach.

    —Kimberly Meyer, Washoe County Sheriff's Department