With new attention being brought to wrongful convictions in New York and throughout the country, many are focused on identifying why people are wrongfully convicted before it happens. Some spent decades of their lives behind bars for crimes they did not commit and the Innocent Project lists 360 convictions that have been overturned by DNA evidence. A good portion of these involved some sort of false confession, so what would cause a person to confess when they did nothing wrong? 

Those who have never been under the microscope of an interrogation may not fathom the idea that a confession can seem safer than remaining in questioning, but the truth is that it really does happen. According to researchers, there are several reasons that someone may make a false confession, including the following: 

  • Fear from the suspect that not confessing to the crime will lead to a harsher punishment than confessing 
  • Devious and improper interrogation techniques by law enforcement officials 
  • Perceived threat of force or use of force during the interrogation by law enforcement 
  • Perceived or real intimidation by anyone involved in the questioning 
  • Suspect’s compromised reasoning ability, which can be caused by mental limitations, limited education, hunger, stress, exhaustion and even substance use 

Some states have recording processes in place to protect both law enforcement and suspects during interrogation. While most Americans want to believe that they are protected by their rights when they are questioned, these rights are often violated. If a person makes a false confession for any reason and feels they may be facing conviction when they are innocent, they can often benefit from speaking to a criminal defense lawyer. 

This is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.