Would you confess to a crime you didn’t commit if you were being interrogated?
While common belief holds that innocent persons do not confess to crimes, the truth is that false confessions do occur and it happens more frequently than you might expect.
A false confession consists of an admission followed by a post admission narration (a comprehensive description of how and why the crime occurred) of a crime that the confessor did not commit. False confessions pose major concerns among social scientists, mental health experts, policymakers, and the general public. They are continuously one of the most prevalent, yet misunderstood, sources of error in the legal system, and hence one of the most prejudiced sources of false evidence that leads to wrongful convictions. False confessions are classified into three types: voluntary confessions, influenced confessions, and compliant confessions.
Voluntary false confessions are addressed by the confessor’s own psychological conditions or by external pressure applied to the confessor by someone other than the cops or someone else in authority. False confessions made voluntarily are typically attributed to inherent psychological or mental issues. While Influenced false confessions arise when questioning tactics compel an innocent person to doubt his memory and he really becomes convinced, whether temporarily or permanently, that he committed the crime despite having no recall of doing so. And Compliant false confessions on other hand are made in order to escape a difficult situation, evade punishment, or obtain a promised or implied reward. The most noticeable feature of a compliant false confession is that it is done intentionally: the suspect acknowledges guilt while knowing he is innocent and that what he says is untrue.
Even in the lack of coercive threats and offers, stress and a desire to avoid interrogation may result in false confessions. Custodial interrogations are naturally stressful and unpleasant encounters, and an accused may hit a level where he is eager to make a false confession merely to end the confrontation. Confessions are the most compelling and convincing evidence of guilt that the state can present against a defendant. False confessions are thus the most compelling and convincing false proof of guilt that the state can use against an innocent individual. Confessions have a significant inherently biased influence on the views and decision-making of both criminal justice officials and judges because most individuals assume that a confession, particularly a thorough confession, is accurate by definition. As a result, confession evidence tends to characterize a defendant’s case, frequently overwhelming any contradicting information or evidence of innocence.
This article reminds us that not only should we discard the notion that no innocent person in their right mind would confess to a crime, but that in some cases, false confession is rational or at the very least exceedingly reasonable.