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3 main types of false confessions

When a crime has been committed, law enforcement officers are not always unbiased when it comes to questioning someone they believe is guilty. It may seem insane that an individual would confess to a crime they did not commit, but yo u can never underestimate the tactics used by police to interrogate a subject and get a confession. When it comes to false confessions or incriminating statements made under duress, your future could be at stake.

1. Persuaded false confessions

Police may use interrogation tactics that cause an individual to doubt his or her own memory and may lead him or her to believe that he or she did commit the crime even when he or she did not. This typically happens in three different steps:

  • The suspect is made to doubt his or her own innocence by the interrogator with a lengthy, intense and accusatorial interrogation.
  • Interrogators supply the accused with a reason why he or she may have committed the crime and how it could have been done without him or her remembering it. Suggestions may be made that the person was dealing with multiple personalities, a blackout, post-traumatic stress disorder or a repressed memory.
  • After the subject has admitted guilt in the crime because there is no logical way he or she didn't do it, he or she may make up facts that support the committing of the crime because he or she truly believes he or she must have done it as there is no other logical explanation.

2. Compliant false confessions

If police use stress, pressure or coercion, and suspects desperately want to escape from a painful interrogation process, they may confess whether they are guilty or not. The subjects may also believe that they will be released if they confess to the crime, or avoid a harsher punishment if they just admit guilt. In most cases, confessors usually recant these confessions quickly after the interrogation ends.

3. Voluntary false confessions

These confessions most often happen when the suspect has an underlying mental or psychological condition that distorts reality. The individual may want fame or notoriety, want absolution from guilt over imagined acts, have a desperate need for self-punishment or have the inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Law enforcement officers are usually distrustful of voluntary confessions.

Countering a confession

A false confession can quickly lead to a wrong conviction if not handled correctly. If you gave a false confession after being accused of a crime because you were impaired, intoxicated or coerced by police, you should contact an attorney immediately to determine what your options are.

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