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Innocent People & False Confessions

Why People Admit to Crimes They Didn’t Commit

25% of overturned wrongful convictions involve a false confession, according to the California Innocence Project.

What exactly does this statistic mean?

Simply put, the interrogation process is brutal and coercive, which ultimately leads to innocent people admitting to a crime they didn’t even commit. The criminal justice system is intimidating enough, but the interrogation process is an aspect of the justice system that has several issues that must be addressed. Innocent people shouldn’t have to suffer injustice and the fatal flaws of the justice system.

You might wonder why an innocent person would admit to a crime they weren’t even involved in. It seems unthinkable that people would self-incriminate themselves. Unfortunately, this sad reality stems from several manipulative interrogation techniques, including the Reid Technique.

If you’ve been accused of a crime, contact the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. at (707) 418-5352 and schedule your free consultation to discuss your situation. You are not alone.

Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques

There are several techniques employed by police officers during the interrogation process, with the most common one being the Reid Technique. The Reid Technique involves three steps:

  1. Factual analysis: Helps navigate the path an investigation should take and gives a background of who the possible offender may be.
  2. Behavior Analysis Interview: According to John E. Reid & Associates, who developed the Reid technique, this step employs a “highly structured interview … [involving] a non-accusatory question and answer session intended to elicit information from the subject in a controlled environment. [This interview] is designed to provide the investigator with verbal, paralinguistic and nonverbal behavior symptoms which either support probable truthfulness or deception …” If the investigator thinks the subject wasn’t honest during the “non-accusatory” interview, then they proceed with the third part of the process.
  3. Accusatory interrogation: Intended to produce a truthful statement from the otherwise “untruthful” subject. If the interrogator is convinced that the subject is guilty, they will use persuasive techniques to pull out the “truth.” The goal is to prove that the subject did, in fact, commit the crime.

It’s important to note that the third step of the Reid Technique is pretty self-explanatory: Manipulation and coercion are at-hand when trying to get someone to admit to a crime. Subjects can fall victim to a police officer’s sole opinions regarding their innocence before they even go to court.

That’s not how the justice system should work. You have the right to a fair trial.

Reasons for False Confessions

Several factors influence false confessions. The California Innocence Project identifies those elements as such:

  • Misclassification: Occurs when the officer labels the subject as “guilty”
  • Coercion errors: Coercive factors such as stress, fatigue, lengthy questioning, and mental and physical exhaustion may impact a subject so heavily that they admit to the crime
  • Contamination errors: After the subject admits guilt, the officer helps create a play-by-play of the crime, which includes facts that the innocent person isn’t aware of

To best avoid the possibility of a false confession or other form of self-incrimination, you should contact our diligent criminal attorney for award-winning defense. As soon as you are aware of your charge, call (707) 418-5352 and retain our defense lawyer to represent you from start to finish. We will inform you of your rights and help prevent any chance of you giving a false confession. You can feel prepared, confident and hopeful with our team by your side.