Joseph J. Colarusso, Attorney at Law
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Why do people falsely confess to committing crimes?

It seems hard to imagine why someone would admit to committing a crime even though the person is innocent, and yet as the Innocence Project points out, one out of every four people who have been exonerated of criminal convictions due to DNA evidence had made false confessions of guilt in the first place. People in Connecticut should be aware of why people falsely confess and how to prevent making such admissions in the first place.

In some cases, law enforcement may mislead a person who is brought in as a suspect, claiming that they have witnesses that put the suspect at the scene. They could also profess to have bits of the suspect’s clothing or other forms of evidence that could incriminate the suspect. Faced with these supposedly authoritative claims, the suspect may feel there is no choice but to confess.

Additionally, suspects who are brought into a police interrogation are not always going to have perfect reasoning, and not just because of the emotional stress of the situation. Some people might not have had a meal recently and are hungry. They could also be tired. Some suspects are not well educated and will not know what should and should not be asked of them. At times, a suspect may suffer mental impairment and cannot comprehend everything that is going on.

A lack of knowledge or mental ability may also contribute to someone making a false confession even if law enforcement is not using coercive tactics. The suspect being questioned may perceive intimidation although no intimidation is intended, and will falsely confess to a crime just to get out of the situation. Sometimes a person may fear that not confessing now will lead to a worse punishment later on.

Young people are particularly susceptible to making false confessions. Teenagers and young adults may not understand they have a right to remain silent and not make self-incriminating statements, or that they can have an attorney present while being questioned. Also, in spite of the common stereotype of young people being rebellious and uncooperative, there are many young people that are disciplined and want to do what authority figures tell them to do.

Ultimately, if you are ever arrested, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Law enforcement may attempt to take advantage of your ignorance of the law or make the interrogation process unpleasant so that you desperately seek to get out of it. Make sure you have an experienced defense attorney on your side to give you proper guidance.

This article is written solely to educate readers on criminal defense topics and is not to be taken as legal advice.

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