Southeastern Legal Translators & Interpreters Network
Southeastern Legal Translators & Interpreters Network 

Start the bilingual judicial process right.

Interpreters and translators in law-enforcement settings:
Most often, police and other law enforcement tend to use "bilingual" officers to interpret during suspect interviews, and to translate documentation to be used by speakers of languages other than English, with whom officers enter into contact.
Working with an untrained or biased interpreter leads to errors and omissions, and evidence that gets thrown out. 
Here are a few examples, taken from actual cases:
Example 1) 
    Suspect says during interview. "before I realized what was happening, [the victim] was         dead." (potentially exculpatory)
    Police officer acting as interpreter renders it as "so he stopped stabbing him once he           saw he was dead." (implies premeditation and intention to kill)
Example 2) 
This perfectly normal consent-form text, 
   "Regarding the following: the removal of any suspicious coverings or other components       of the vehicle, or compartments made for the purpose of hiding contraband.
    Color           Year             Make          Body style       License plate number"
when translated by a non-professional in to "Spanish," became the mind-bendingly nonsensical
   "Respect to the following, the stirring any suspicious deck and other componentes of the       vehcle in the smallest way and
    manufactured comparment with the prpose of hiding contraband.  
    Color          Anus            Make            Body style             License plate number"
Example 3) 
    Interviewee (in Spanish): Can I call home so I can have my wife call my lawyer?
    Officer acting as interpreter: He said he wants to call his wife.
Court interpreters are often willing to leave home urgently to interpret for law enforcement. We also go to jails, prisons, prosecutors' offices, police stations. In fact, about half of our interpreting is done in correctional or detention centers.
It benefits us all when local governments set aside funds to have the job done right the first time, so that no part of the judicial process, which begins with the arrest in a criminal case, needs to be repeated or cleaned up.









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