It defies logic. Why would an innocent person confess to a crime? Yet, as any Delaware defense attorney can tell you, it happens.
What leads to a false confession?
Experts believe that 20% of eventual exonerations free a person who wrongfully confessed. Some do so because they want to see their names in the news. However, these cases are rare.
In contrast, it’s far more common that someone might confess because they feel guilty. They weren’t there and didn’t commit the crime, but they might feel that they should have done something to prevent it. However, there’s another situation. It involves a violation of a suspect’s Fifth Amendment rights.
Criminal defense attorneys must set the record straight
Protecting yourself from providing a false confession begins with knowing your rights. Criminal procedure requires you to receive your Miranda warnings. Next, there’s the question if someone waived their right to remain silent freely or under coercion.
While the police won’t threaten you with physical harm, officers can sometimes take other steps. They might promise that you could reduce any legal consequences if you confess right now. Sometimes, interrogating detectives might stretch the truth a little and convince you that they have proof of your guilt, even though they don’t.
It’s up to an attorney to discern the truth. If you confessed to a crime because you heard for hours that someone saw you, the lawyer must speak up. Similarly, if officers promised to reduce charges or sentences in return for a confession, an attorney must make this case in front of a judge. False confessions mar not only current investigations, but also penalize people who can’t stand up to the pressure someone in authority put on them.