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Why do people give false confessions?

It may be relatively easy to understand why someone would make a false accusation of criminal conduct. For example, we have already addressed how false accusations of domestic violence sometimes occur during divorce cases. If you are at odds with another individual for some reason, you know that they may give an inaccurate account to the authorities.

That being said, there are also cases where people give false confessions. They readily admit that they did something that is both illegal, and that they never actually did to begin with. This could mean that the person has to spend time behind bars and have a criminal record for life. Why would they do this?

The manipulation of young people

In a lot of cases, it is young people who give these false confessions. They do it because they have been manipulated in some way by the police.

For example, one tactic the police will use is assuming that the young person doesn’t fully understand the ramifications of their situation. That person may have very simple goals, such as leaving the police station and going home. The police officer may say that they are allowed to do so if they just sign a written confession or something of this nature. The person will admit to it to accomplish their immediate goal without thinking about the long-term ramifications.

Much of the time, the police will use these types of tactics with young offenders. They know that young people have less experience with the criminal justice system and that they will likely be worried about their future. It is legal for the police to lie to you, so they may make claims about how confessing will help your future when the opposite is actually true.

What can you do?

Those who feel they have been manipulated into a false confession may be very frustrated and concerned about what this is going to mean. Are they now stuck with a record for life? Can you “take back” a false confession? If you find yourself in this position, it’s critical that you understand all of the legal defense options you have and what steps you can take next.