Why do some accused falsely confess to crimes?

If you have ever been accused of committing a crime in Wisconsin, you know how difficult the situation can be. For many people, the stress can simply be too much and they forego their rights or speak before consulting with an attorney. There are often stories of wrongful convictions and false confessions in the news, and there are specific reasons why people confess to crimes they did not commit. 

The Innocence Project provides startling numbers when it comes to wrongful conviction, false confessions and DNA evidence. There have been 360 convictions overturned by DNA, and most of those involved a false confession from a suspect. 

Individuals may confess even when they are innocent if there is perceived or real intimidation from law enforcement. The perceived threat of force or use of force by law enforcement officials during interrogation may also lead to a false confession. Many who are arrested come to a point where they believe that confessing to the crime is better than staying in interrogation any longer. 

There are also times when the suspect’s reasoning ability is compromised. This may be because of hunger, stress, exhaustion, substance abuse, limited education or mental limitations. First-time offenders and younger people often try to please those in authority and may not know their rights. At times, officers may make false statements about incriminating evidence that does not exist, which may force a confession. 

To void these situations entirely, many states are pushing for interrogations to be recorded. Wisconsin is one state that records custodial interrogations. This provides the benefit to the accused that their rights are protected and there is a deterrent against coercive techniques or improper behavior on the part of the questioner. A record of the entire process may protect not only the accused, but also law enforcement. 

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