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The coverage of false confessions in various media has caused many people to be aware of this problem. It is something that occurs too often in the criminal justice system. False confessions have resulted in people who did not commit a crime being convicted and put in jail for extended periods of time. The Innocence Project estimates that over 31 percent of individuals determined to be innocent through DNA evidence have given a false confession. False confessions most often occur when unfair interrogation tactics are used by law enforcement.
It is always essential for any person charged with a crime to have a defense attorney with them when they are questioned by law enforcement. A person charged with a crime must understand if they confess to something they did not do, they still have legal rights. An experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney will know how to have a false confession thrown out. Only when this happens can a fair and legal result be obtained.
The skilled use of intimidation has resulted in many people making false confessions. The interrogation process no longer has physical abuse as a common occurrence. Law enforcement utilizes other methods to intimidate suspects. These methods are effective and often result in people confessing to crimes they did not commit.
A suspect can experience implied or expressed intimidation. This can be in the form of threats to a person’s reputation, livelihood as well as physical threats. Suspects have been threatened with psychological, financial, emotional harm. Isolation is an effective part of many interrogations as well as being forced to sit in a holding room that is dark and uncomfortable. Suspects may be told they can end the interrogation if they agree with law enforcement’s accusations against them.
There are common things law enforcement will misrepresent to obtain a confession.
*A suspect may be told another suspect has told about their involvement in the crime.
*Law enforcement may tell a suspect they know the suspect committed the crime.
*A suspect may be told there is a witness who saw them commit the crime.
*Law enforcement may tell a suspect they have evidence that proves the suspect committed the crime.
Members of law enforcement will take advantage of a suspect’s mental state. They want results and often are not worried about protecting a person’s rights. The desire to get a confession will include exploiting a person’s lack of experience with law enforcement as well as exploiting their weakened mind.
*Young people who are likely to trust members of law enforcement.
*Individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
*Individuals who have limited education as well as mental abilities.
*Individuals who are experiencing serious sleep deprivation as well as exhaustion.
When a suspect is being held in custody, members of law enforcement will tell them their punishment will be less if they cooperate. Some even tell suspects their charges may be dismissed. It is also possible for members of law enforcement to threaten a suspect with being charged with committing a more serious crime. They tell them about severe prosecution and penalties that will happen if the suspect doesn’t cooperate with them. In this situation, it doesn’t matter if they can actually charge a suspect with such crimes. This is done to get a suspect to make a confession and get a conviction.
In many cases, the people who are charged with crimes are overwhelmed and vulnerable to intimidation. It is important they know they have legal rights. There are some ways people charged with a crime can avoid making a false confession. They should never believe what they are being told by law enforcement. The goal of law enforcement is to obtain a confession and make their work easier. It’s important to be patient. A person charged with a crime could be held for hours. They could be repeatedly questioned by several members of law enforcement. Their goal is to wear a person down and get them to confess.
During an interrogation, a person has the right to remain silent. They don’t have to answer any questions. A person charged with a crime has a right to legal counsel. It is important for a suspect to speak with legal counsel before talking with law enforcement. One of the most effective ways for a suspect to get the best outcome possible is to have an experienced criminal defense attorney by their side.