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Forced Confessions Do Not Prove Guilt

Posted on in Criminal Law

Forced Confessions Do Not Prove GuiltLaw enforcement officials will say that the purpose of a criminal interrogation is to get the truth. However, some interrogators are more interested in getting a confession. There are documented cases of defendants being convicted based on false confessions. Even if the defendant later claims that he or she was coerced, a jury often believes that the initial confession must be the truth. Jurors think "Why would a defendant admit to a serious crime he or she did not commit?" It is difficult to prove that a confession was false, but those experienced in criminal law understand why a forced confession is unreliable.

Coercing a Confession

Police detectives conducting an interrogation know that it is illegal to obtain a confession through violence or threat of violence. Instead, most false confessions are obtained through psychological tactics. Interrogators will try to break the confidence of suspects so that they believe that confessing to a crime is their best option. Juveniles and people with mental deficiencies are most susceptible to coerced confessions. However, any suspect may eventually succumb to psychological pressure when interrogators:

  • Falsely claim that they have evidence against the suspect;
  • Ask leading questions that build towards a confession;
  • Prey upon emotional confusion after a traumatic event;
  • Hold the suspect for prolonged periods, causing fatigue; or
  • Use a polygraph or voice stress test, which is unreliable but may intimidate the suspect with its results.

In many cases, the interrogator does not believe he or she is coercing a false confession. The interrogator may have prematurely concluded that the suspect is guilty, and that false presumption has tainted his or her objectivity. It becomes easier to see evidence of guilt when the interrogator is already convinced of the conclusion.

Overcoming a False Confession

A defendant can claim that police coerced a confession, but it is difficult to prove without a recording of the interrogation. Illinois law does not require police to record interrogations unless the case involves a homicide or other violent felony. If the issue comes down to trusting differing personal accounts of the interrogation, the defendant is at a disadvantage against the police. The defendant may also overcome a false confession through evidence and witnesses in the case. A confession is less reliable if there is no corroborating evidence connected to it.

Defending Yourself

You should immediately consult an attorney if you believe police coerced you into giving a false confession to a crime. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can come up with a strategy to fight your false confession. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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