In a criminal case, nothing seems to seal a verdict quite like an admission of guilt. It is virtually unimaginable for a judge and jury not to convict someone who claims openly that he or she is responsible. After all, why would anyone who is innocent ever admit to a crime?
Unfortunately, this line of thinking is incredibly unrealistic and totally ignores basic issues of human psychology, not to mention common interrogation practices. In dozens of cases, innocent defendants have been punished based solely on a false confession of guilt. In fact, 25% of rulings overturned by DNA evidence involved false confessions.
Reasons for False Confessions
Innocent people confess for a variety of reasons, including:
- Misunderstanding of the law
- Fear of violence
- Threat of torture and other forms of intimidation
- Diminished mental capacity
Investigators and police know exactly how powerful a confession is, and will often go to enormous lengths to get the words of confirmation they want to hear. The idea is that the faster a culprit is proven guilty, the faster the case is over and done and “justice is served.” Thus, holding a minor in an interrogation center for hours on end, telling him again and again that he committed a crime, is deemed worth it if, in exhaustion and fear, he finally agrees to the interrogator’s version of events.
Multiple studies have shown just how unreliable some confessions really are. Juveniles and mentally handicapped people are especially vulnerable to unconditionally agreeing with law enforcement if they believe they can just “go home” after doing so.
If you or someone you love has been sent to jail under a false confession, we can help you fight for your rights. Contact the San Jose criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of Daniel Jensen, P.C. today by calling (408) 296-4100.