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Why do false confessions happen?

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Wrongful convictions shouldn’t happen, but it’s become very clear that they do. In some cases, these convictions will be overturned in the future thanks to DNA evidence. There are a lot of reasons for these wrongful convictions, such as inaccurate eyewitness testimony.

Exonerations have also helped show that numerous people who aren’t guilty – as proven by DNA evidence – had actually confessed to their crimes. The evidence shows that they made a false confession. Why would someone do this if they knew that they were innocent?

Police pressure

One potential reason is that police officers will sometimes pressure people to admit to committing a crime. They could interrogate them for 16 hours, for instance, as some studies noted. They could use intimidation or isolation. Essentially, the police will pressure the person long enough that they will finally say whatever they have to say to get the interrogation to stop, even if it’s not true.

Young offenders

Another thing to keep in mind is that some young offenders may not fully understand their situation or may be more susceptible to pressure. For instance, teens are sometimes told that they can go home if they just confess to what they did. At this age, the teen just wants to leave the police station, and they may do whatever they’re told will allow them to do that.

What can you do?

It’s important to understand how this happens. If you’re being interrogated by the police or pressured in any way, you definitely need to know your rights. Always remember that you do have a right to legal representation.