Could you be a victim of a false confession?

Find out more about false confessions. Learn why people give them and what factors often accompany such cases. Also, discover if you could ever give one.

There have been plenty of stories where a person has admitted to a crime only to later say they did not actually commit the crime. There have also been cases where a person admits to a crime, but it is later proven through solid evidence the person did not do it. What would compel someone to confess to a crime when it is not true? Does this happen often in New Jersey? These are common questions when it comes to false confessions.

False confession defined

According to The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, a false confession has two parts. First, it is requires a person admitting he or she commited a crime. Second, it requires an explanation of how and why the crime happened.

How often it occurs

It is not clear how often false confessions happen. Not every occurrence will be revealed. Some people confess and then spend years or even the rest of their life behind bars, and the truth is never known. According to Innocence Project, It is believed that false confessions are a leading cause of wrongful convictions.

Reasons false confessions occur

It is difficult for most people to understand why someone would falsely admit to doing something as serious as a crime. While it is impossible to know why every person who gives a false confession does it, it is believed that in most cases, the person feels it will help him or her in some way.

Most confessions occur during an interrogation with law enforcement. During an interrogation, the questioning and atmosphere can get tense, which can lead to coercion or duress. It is also thought people who are intoxicated or who have a diminished capacity or mental impairment may also falsely confess because they do not understand fully what is happening or even what they are admitting to. Some people may even confess out of fear.

While most people likely believe they would never admit to a crime they did not commit, it happens too often. Even those who are not confused may fall victim to the false confession because they are tired of being questioned. Some people do it because they believe their innocence can be proven beyond a doubt. They confess just to get away from the interrogation.

How they can be stopped

Putting an end to false confessions is not an easy task. The Psych Report notes the law is on the side of law enforcement when it comes to interrogations. They can lie and even claim to have evidence that they do not have. They can also use harsh tactics.

One of the best methods found to help prevent false confessions is recording all interrogations. Recording the questioning of a suspect helps eliminate some of the approaches used by law enforcement that lead to false admissions while also allowing the state of the suspect to be seen. Later, the tapes can be used as evidence to show a person confessed under duress rather than due to actual guilt.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are being questioned about a crime, it is important to seek the proper legal counsel. Getting the assistance of an attorney, such as Lanza & Lanza LLP, could help prevent you from giving a false confession.