A false confession refers to an admission of guilty in a criminal offence in which the confessor is not the real culprit (Siegel, 2010). False confession can occur because of a number of instances such as coercion through police investigative tactics or techniques, incompetence of the accused, and disease or mental disorder. False confessions might seem to be an unlikely event and exceptional, but they regularly occur in case law, which is among the reasons for why jurisprudence has laid down a series of rules to determine the presence of false confessions, and subsequently reject them (Siegel, 2010). This discussion will consider the reasons for choosing false confession, the responsibility of an investigator upon discovering a false confession in case he or she is investigating, consequences for ignoring the knowledge of a false confession, the relationship between false confession and Miranda warnings, and whether the Criminal Justice System should compensate the wrongly imprisoned individuals because of false confession.
A number of individuals with mental disorders encounter the police as suspects and falsely confess to criminal offenses that they did not commit (Siegel, 2010). Research has shown that the probability of arrest for persons with symptoms of mental illness is about 67 times greater than that of the mentally normal individuals (Siegel, 2010). People with mental disorders often falsely confess to criminal offenses they did not commit because of a temptation to reconcile and agree with authority figures. Most of the law enforcement interrogators do not receive any training concerning questioning suspects suffering from mental illnesses (Siegel, 2010). Therefore, an impaired state because of mental illness, alcohol, or drugs may also evoke false admissions of guilt.
Another cause of false confession is police coercion. This is an involuntary confession that occurs when a suspect overbears police behavior instead of a free will and rational intellect. The police employ physical abuse or psychological abuse to intimidate, bully, confuse, exhaust, and cajole the suspect so that he or she can confess to a criminal offense that they did not commit (Siegel, 2010). A suspect can confess to a crime that he or she did not commit in order to placate interrogators and avoid bullying. An example of cases that involved coercion includes Brown v. Mississippi (Brooks, 2001). In this case, the defendants confessed to murdering Raymond Stuart because the police officers subjected them to brutal whippings as well as tree-hangings.
When an investigator discovers that a suspect has confessed falsely to a crime, he or she is responsible to process for the exoneration of the suspect (Siegel, 2010). An investigator can discover false confession through DNA testing. It is extremely significant for investigators to consider the knowledge of false confessions. Ignoring the knowledge of false confessions brings about grievous consequences such as wrong convictions, which may lead to life imprisonment and death penalties (Siegel, 2010).
Miranda warning refers to a police warning given to a criminal suspect who is under interrogation or in the custody of law enforcement within the United States before the suspect can ask questions, concerning what occurred during the crime (Goldstein & Goldstein, 2010). False confession has a close relationship with Miranda warning because both of them may involve psychological and physical intimidation of the suspect. A suspect may falsely confess to an offence so that to avoid psychological and physical intimidation. The police may use psychological or physical intimidation to get a suspect to make a statement after receiving a proper Miranda warning. Information that the suspect willingly offers to the police after receiving a Miranda warning is admissible in court (Goldstein & Goldstein, 2010).
The Criminal Justice System should not compensate the wrongly imprisoned individuals because of false confession. This is because some individuals may falsely confess to crimes that they did not commit in order to get compensation after exoneration. Therefore, compensation of wrongly imprisoned individuals due to false confession may encourage people to confess to criminal offenses that they did not perpetrate.