A look at the validity of confessions

| Mar 8, 2021 | Criminal Law |

Law enforcement officers in Mississippi and throughout the country use a host of tactics to gather evidence tying a suspect to a case. One common piece of evidence involves confessions and statements signed by suspects, which links them to the crime. 

Yet, not all sworn statements and confessions are gathered in an ethical manner, and in some cases, people sign a confession with invalid information. Why would an innocent person sign a statement saying they committed a crime? 

The facts

According to the Innocence Project, false confessions are involved in a number of cases where innocent people are wrongfully charged and convicted of a crime they did not commit. In some cases, law enforcement officers may use unethical methods to gather a confession. 

When a person is faced with a stressful, uncomfortable and scary situation, they may lose sight of their rights and react in a fearful manner. Law officers may take advantage of this situation by using intimidation, fear and physical force to get a signed confession. Some tactics used by officers include the following: 

  • Threatening worse penalties if the suspect does not sign the confession 
  • Depriving sleep and food 
  • Saying there is incriminating evidence when there is not 

In many cases, interrogations are not taped, and there is no way of telling what happened during the process. 

A solution

If law officers are forced to tape the interrogation process, it may solve issues for both potential suspects and officers. Officers are held accountable for their actions, and if they know they are being taped, may eliminate their use of scare, fear and physical tactics. 

Furthermore, judges and jurors can see what went on during the interrogation process and may be able to tell whether the suspect suffers from any disabilities or limitations.