Criminal trials are based on several types of evidence, including eyewitness testimony, circumstantial evidence and expert testimony. A confession made by the defendant is also considered evidence, as long as it is made voluntarily. Yet, not all confessions are obtained in an ethical manner.
A number of innocent people are found guilty based on false confessions. According to the Innocence Project, more than 360 people were released from their prison sentence after DNA evidence proved their innocence. Of these cases, many cases involved false confessions as part of the wrongful conviction.
What are false confessions?
While some criminal suspects voluntarily confess that they have indeed committed a crime, there are some who admit to an act they did not commit. It may seem hard to believe that an innocent person would say they acted in a criminal manner when they did not. Yet, some law enforcement professionals may use unethical and illegal tactics to
What factors are contributors?
When being questioned by law enforcement regarding your possible involvement in a crime, you may feel nervous, overwhelmed and highly emotional, regardless of whether you were actually involved. Law officers may use these feelings against you. Law enforcement may use the following to prompt you to writing a false confession:
- Depriving sleep to the point of exhautions
- Withholding food
- Confusing those with limited education or mental capabilities
- Saying that officers already have information linking you to the case
- Saying that you may receive a harsher punishment if you do not confess
Confessions should be recorded and taped to ensure physical violence is not used. The judge and/or jury should also keep in mind the psychological and physical manner of the suspect during the interrogation process.