Factors Used to Assess the Legitimacy of a Confession to a Crime

Just because you have confessed to a crime doesn't mean that the court (judge) will accept your word for it; maybe you were coerced or you didn't know what you were confessing to. In fact, if you can challenge your confession in court. If you do that, the court will use the following measures (among others) to determine whether the confession was legitimate:

The Length of the Interrogation

A very lengthy interrogation can lead to a false confession. Some suspects, even if they are innocent, can confess to crimes they didn't commit (after being interrogated for a long time) so that they can get it over with. This is especially true if they are tired and think that the confession is the worst part of the process and that anything after that will be bearable.

The Age of the Suspect

Minor suspects aren't expected to know their rights. They also tend to hold authorities in high esteem or even to be in awe of police officers. A juvenile criminal suspect can confess to a crime they didn't commit. They may think that they are supposed to nod and say yes to anything suggested by the police officers. Even young suspects who aren't legally minors may fall in the same boat. That is why juvenile suspects aren't supposed to be interrogated in the absence of their parents or lawyers.

Level of Education and Intelligence

Some uneducated persons are also not aware of their rights when arrested and charged with a crime. This means police officers can subject them to questionable interrogation practices that more educated persons would not put up with. The same thing applies to criminal suspects who may not be as intelligent as the average person. Confessions obtained from such suspects are usually put under high scrutiny to confirm their legitimacy.

The Tactics of the Interrogation

Some interrogation tactics have also been known to yield false confessions more often than others. For example, extreme fear and coercion may make a person confess to a crime they did not commit. Some of these dangerous tactics are illegal, but those who employ them always know how to stay on the line between illegal and legal tactics, which means they have room to wiggle if their tactics are questioned.

Hopefully, you will never find yourself in a situation where you feel you need to confess to a crime you didn't commit. If you have done that already, however, contact a criminal defense lawyer for more information.