If you have been charged with a crime, the entire process can be extremely intimidating and frightening, particularly if this is your first offense. Even the smallest mistake can land you in a world of trouble, and affect your entire future before you realize what you are saying. Magazines and newspapers are full of stories where those accused have given false confessions and been convicted of crimes they did not commit. Before you are in this situation, you may not even consider ever giving a false confession, but it is a real problem you should be aware of before you deal with it.
What factors contribute to false confessions?
If you have been arrested for a crime, you may find yourself in an interrogation room with a law enforcement officer being questioned. Police use different tactics to question or interrogate suspects, and some may be confusing or stressful. Some factors that increase the chances of false confessions are:
- Threats of a harsher sentence
- Mental impairments
- Infliction of harm
- Confusion about the situation
- Fear of harm or violence
- Misunderstanding of the law
There are other psychological tactics that may be used to convince you that you committed the crime, or to create enough confusion that you are not sure how you could be innocent. These questioning methods often lead to stress and anxiety that cause a suspect to confess to anything to get away from the situation.
The three types of false confessions
You should be aware of three main types of false confessions, the first being voluntary. Some may offer up a confession for a crime they did not commit to get attention, to alleviate imagined guilt or a desire to punish themselves. Some may even have a hard time distinguishing fantasy from reality and believe they are guilty.
The other type of false confession is compliant. These are given when suspects face pressure, coercion or stress to escape a stressful situation or punishment. In many cases, a suspect may admit guilt even when they know they are innocent just to get away.
The third type of false confession is known as persuaded. These occur when a suspect is caused to doubt his or her memory by confusing interrogation tactics. Suspects may believe they committed a crime they were not involved in because they cannot see how they were not involved after they are given details by the police.
Addressing concern for your future
If you feel you have given a false confession and are not sure how to keep your record clean for the future, you may benefit from speaking to an attorney immediately.