On television crime dramas, when someone confesses to a crime, they are usually guilty of what they claim they did. However, in the real North Carolina criminal defense world, false confessions are not as unusual as you may think.
False confession statistics
According to the Innocence Project, 29 percent of convictions that are overturned due to new DNA evidence involved false confessions. Of those cases, 49 percent were under the age of 21 and 31 percent were under the age of 18. Nine percent had mental health issues which were known when the person went on trial.
Understanding false confession
It may be hard to understand why someone would confess to a crime they did not commit, but there are often valid reasons that a false confession occurs. Police are permitted to use deceptive tactics in an effort to trick a suspect into providing them with details of a crime. They may claim they have forensic evidence proving guilt, which could lead to someone admitting guilt.
Police may also tell the suspect that the evidence is so overwhelming, they could be facing decades or life behind bars. They can state that if the person confesses, the sentence will be lenient. These tactics may be used even if there is no evidence implicating the suspect. There are no limits on how long a police interrogation may last, and someone may confess simply to end the questioning. This is usually due to extreme exhaustion, manipulative techniques and/or stress. For all of these reasons, any suspect should have a criminal defense attorney with them during questioning.
Police coercion and Miranda Warnings
Miranda Warnings were put in place to prevent false confession. However, police may try to get around those rights using questioning techniques designed to analyze you rather than simply get information about a crime. If police suspect you are lying, the interrogation that follows is more about proving guilt than it is finding the truth. Although reforms have stopped some of the unsavory tactics used by police, there are others that still continue. A criminal defense attorney is your best protection against a possible false confession.
If you are under investigation for a crime or have been charged after a false confession, contact an attorney. They will review your case and guide you through every step of the process, helping you fight for your rights under the law.