What Are False and Coerced Confessions?
Citizens are afforded explicit protections under the US Constitution to prevent them from testifying against themselves when charged with a crime. Unfortunately, instances of false and coerced confessions are on the rise within the criminal justice system.
By some estimates, as many as 25% of the people accused of murder are compelled to falsely confess to a crime. In most cases, it happens because of the prosecutorial pressure to accept a plea deal and other questionable interrogation tactics.
An all-star criminal defense attorney can prove to be invaluable in helping you obtain an acquittal if you have been falsely accused of a crime.
What Do False Confessions Involve?
A false confession is an admission of guilt for a certain crime that was not committed by the person. There are several reasons why people make false confessions:
- Plea bargain (when they think they won’t receive a fair trial or be able to prove their innocence)
- Mental illness
- Developmental disabilities
- Physical coercion
- Psychological abuse and mind games by interrogators
- To put an end to a painful or prolonged interrogation
- To cover for another
There are three types of false confessions. Compliant false confessions are given when a suspect wants to put an end to a stressful police interrogation. It may also occur when the suspect is led to believe that it would result in lesser punishment or a quicker release from custody. These confessions are known as “compliant” since the police compel the suspect to agree to having committed the crime.
Persuaded false confessions occur when the suspect begins doubting their own memory. In essence, they are temporarily influenced by the police and begin believing that they committed the crime even if they have no recollection or memory of committing the crime.
Voluntary false confessions are usually caused by ideas of grandiosity or some other mental disorder. The suspect hopes to become famous by confessing to the crime. This type of false confession can also be done in an attempt to protect the other person.
What is a Coerced Confession?
Coerced confessions are statements made by an accused due to inappropriate pressure from law enforcement. The fact that the confession is true or false doesn’t matter when it comes to admissibility.
Coercion can be in the form of mental manipulation or physical threats. For instance, the interrogator may tell a suspect that they would be releasing them after a confession. In reality, there are no plans of releasing the suspect regardless of the confession.
Coerced confessions can be true, false, or unreliable. In many cases, the accused becomes convinced that they committed the crime after extensive interrogation even when they didn’t. Coerced confessions usually occur because of poorly conducted interrogations or improper techniques.
Interrogation Techniques Leading to False and Coerced Confessions
There are several types of questionable interrogation techniques that can cause a false or coerced confession. These include:
- Threats of violence
- Physical coercion
- Lying about the evidence
- Appealing to sympathy
- Making threats or promises about the consequences of remaining silent or confessing
- Using leading questions
- Pretending to be an ally
- Feigning friendship
- Long interrogations without breaks
- Interrogating suspects that are under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Interrogating sleep-deprived suspects
Coerced Confessions are Inadmissible in Alabama Courts
Coerced confessions are not admissible in courts even when the confession is true since they violate a citizen’s right to not be compelled into testifying against themselves. Coercive tactics are considered as a denial of due process under the law. Due process requires defendants to be treated fairly within the criminal justice process.
It ensures that only reliable evidence gets used in a trial. Coerced and false confessions are usually considered unreliable evidence. You should consult with a criminal defense attorney that can help prevent you from submitting a false or coerced confession. Your attorney can protect your rights when you are being interrogated by the police.
You should never make incriminating statements against yourself and always exercise your Miranda rights. You are allowed to politely refuse to answer any questions the law enforcement official asks until you have spoken with an attorney. In case you have given an involuntary confession, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to suppress it or exclude it from evidence.
Federal Protections Against False and Coerced Confessions
Citizens are protected by the Constitution from being forced to say anything incriminating. This includes confessions that are given under duress or are coerced. Confessions need to be given voluntarily to be admissible in court. This right is derived from the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, which states that a citizen has a right to not get compelled in a criminal case to become a witness against themselves.
Get Legal Representation from a Formidable Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been arrested or have confessed to a crime, the seasoned criminal defense attorneys at the Alsobrook Law Group may be able to get the evidence excluded from the case. Our attorneys have decades of experience in helping clients win an acquittal or prevent a conviction.
To schedule your free consultation, call us at 334-737-3718 or fill out this online contact form