One of the most significant ongoing tragedies involved with the United States criminal justice system occurs when an innocent person is convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. Erroneous convictions can have immeasurable consequences for exonerees, original crime victims, and families. Likewise, they may also have long-lasting adverse effects on the witnesses, investigators, lawyers, judges, and other criminal justice professionals involved in the case. Fortunately, each passing year sees a record number of exonerations, many of which are due to increased technology related to DNA testing.
When considering why wrongful convictions are so common, there are a few clear causes: eyewitness misidentification, improper forensic evidence, perjury, informant misconduct, and government wrongdoing. However, you may be surprised to learn that false confessions are also among the top reasons for wrongful convictions. After all, why would an innocent person admit to a crime they didn’t do? We dive into a few of these reasons, as well as why contacting an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest is crucial to avoiding this critical misstep.
Why You Should Contact an Attorney First to Avoid a False Confession
If the police are questioning you, even if it seems to be a casual encounter, you may want to hesitate before speaking your mind. Even if you’re innocent, speaking to the police is usually considered a mistake unless you’ve first spoken with an attorney. Police officers are trained professionals skilled at obtaining confessions and finding inconsistencies in your story. It’s surprisingly common for innocent individuals to confess to a crime out of fear or confusion. Likewise, it’s easy to accidentally tell a white lie to embellish your innocence under stress.
Fortunately, you have the right to remain silent in the United States, a right that also includes the ability to request an attorney anytime police are questioning you. While you may be concerned that remaining silent and requesting an attorney makes you seem guilty, especially if you’ve done nothing wrong, that’s not the case. No matter how street-smart and savvy you may be, you won’t be able to talk your way out of an arrest, and nothing you say will help your cause.
Getting the help of an attorney can be an instrumental step in helping you avoid a colossal mistake that lands you behind bars. If you request a lawyer, the police are required to stop all further questioning and interrogation until the lawyer arrives. With an attorney’s help, you can decide what—if anything—to say to the police and learn about your options if you’ve already spoken with law enforcement.
Why Do People Confess to Crimes They Don’t Commit?
False confessions have long been studied by researchers, police, and lawyers alike to understand the reason for their prevalence. While false confessions can’t be boiled down to any singular cause, there are a few reasons that are more common than others. For instance, many people confess to settle a tiring interrogation session. Others do so for attention and to gain popularity. Likewise, during a stressful interrogation, you may momentarily believe you’re guilty or be lied to by police, ultimately pressuring you into a conviction.
So, while you’re required by law to provide your name when being questioned by police, you don’t need to answer questions about where you’re going, where you came from, what you’re doing, where you live, whether you’re a U.S. citizen, or whether you’re here lawfully.
Contact an Experienced West Palm Beach Defense Attorney for Legal Assistance
Suspects have the right to speak with an attorney before answering any questions. The exercise of this right can help stop questioning and thereby reduce the risk of giving a false confession. If you’ve already provided a false confession or otherwise uttered inconsistencies to the police, an experienced West Palm Beach defense attorney may be able to backtrack your statements or file a suppression motion seeking to exclude it from evidence. Fortunately, this kind of help is right around the corner at The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel.
Attorney Brian Gabriel has served the community of West Palm Beach for more than 30 years as a criminal defense attorney. He understands the complexities that are often associated with false confession cases and can help protect your rights. You can be assured that you’re in good hands. Call (561) 622-5575 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.