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Why do people give false confessions?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2023 | Criminal Defense

It feels like no one should make a false confession. If they didn’t commit the crime, why would they want to spend time behind bars or pay significant financial fines? Why would they ever claim they did something illegal that they didn’t do, putting their own future in jeopardy?

But we know that false confessions happen. In fact, DNA evidence has been used to prove that people who admitted their own guilt were in fact not guilty. Why would they do this?

Outside pressure

There are numerous factors that can contribute, but most of them involve some sort of outside pressure or stress being put on the person. They eventually will be coerced or even intimidated into giving a confession.

For instance, the Innocent Project looked at how long interrogations lasted prior to false confessions. They found that the average was an incredible 16 hours. This type of prolonged interrogation can put a lot of pressure on someone to simply say whatever it is that the authorities want them to say.

In fact, this is something that often happens with young offenders – or, at least, young people who have been accused of committing crimes. The police may manipulate them by telling them that they can go home if they just admit to what they did, for instance, or that denying it is just making their situation worse. Young people may be so stressed out and overwhelmed that they confess to something they never did.

It’s important to understand how these police interrogations go and why false confessions occur. It’s also wise to look into all of your legal options, including not talking to the police without your legal team at your side.