CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

CrimProf Floyd Feeney Discuses Police New Found Use for the Term: "Person of Interest"

Feeney2 From UC Davis CrimProf Floyd Feeney explains the term "person of interest"  in light of Sacramento County sheriff's detectives called Agustine Munoz a "person of interest" after his estranged wife's body was found in a ditch in November.

Around the same time, Sacramento police called Miguel Carranza a "person of interest" after his ex-girlfriend was gunned down with her new boyfriend.

Carranza has since been named a homicide suspect. Munoz – now in jail on other charges – remains a "person of interest."

"It's a broad and somewhat ambiguous term," said UC Davis CrimProf Floyd Feeney. By using a vague term, authorities may feel they are more in control of the situation, he said.

In recent years, the term "person of interest" has become a familiar part of the law enforcement lexicon across the country.

Critics say it's a nebulous euphemism for "suspect" that can tarnish someone's name when investigators are still a long way from gathering enough evidence for an arrest.

Law enforcement officials say it can mean "suspect." But they also use it for "accomplice," "witness" or "someone with key information about a crime." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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