The arrest process is extremely distressing to almost every person. From drunk driving to aggravated murder, a conviction can lead to a criminal record that negatively impacts your future. How you respond to law enforcement officers who arrest and question you can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.
Those arrested are at times coerced into making a false confession. One notorious example is the Central Park Five. After a jogger was raped and murdered, five men falsely confessed to the crime, even though they were innocent. What causes a person to confess to a crime they did not commit?
Why innocent people confess
It may seem impossible that you would ever admit to committing a crime you had no part in. Without previous experience, you have no idea how you will react after being arrested and questioned by police. You should be aware of the many risk factors that may lead to a false confession, including intoxication, mental impairment, fear of violence, misunderstanding of the situation, coercion, diminished capacity, duress, ignorance of the law, threats of a harsher sentence or the actual infliction of injury or harm.
There are times when law enforcement officers use tactics that are exceptionally harsh to get a confession from a suspect they believe is guilty. The additional stress placed on you during questioning can lead to a desire to get away from the situation as quickly as possible, even if you must make a confession to something you did not do to remove yourself from the perceived danger.
Fixing the problem
Interrogations must be recorded from beginning to end in more than 20 states to preserve the integrity of the confession. Thousands of law enforcement agencies do so voluntarily to protect the suspect and the officers.
If you have been arrested for a crime and feel you were coerced into making a confession, you should seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney immediately.