Evaluating Coerced Confessions

You are probably familiar with Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent. A King County criminal defense attorney wants you to understand more about the law that protects individuals from forced confessions. Holding an involuntary coerced confession against a defendant would violate his constitutional legal protection of due process.

Reading someone the Miranda warning (“You have the right to remain silent,” etc.) is one step toward safeguarding due process protections, but it is not the only step to avoiding prosecution after involuntary admissions.

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Looking at the Circumstances

Another legal standard that protects people is examining all the circumstances surrounding a confession to ensure that it is given voluntarily. Of course, our Constitution prohibits torture. But what about more subtle ways of tricking people, such as psychological methods to get someone to confess against his will? That is a more difficult situation to judge. Was the behavior of law enforcement overbearing? Was the person being interrogated unable to resist police tactics? Or was the confession truly offered voluntarily, so that it can be allowed as evidence against someone?

To make this determination, a judge looks at the totality of the situation, including not only the police behavior and tactics but also the defendant’s background.

Factors in Judging Confessions

Following are some of the details about the defendant and circumstances of the confession that the court considers when deciding whether a confession is admissible.

  • Police tactics, threats, promises, or other tricks
  • Withholding of food
  • Sleep depravation
  • Use of detention or lengthy interrogation
  • Defendant’s age
  • Defendant’s mental state and emotional stability
  • Defendant’s intelligence level or mental deficiency
  • Defendant’s level of education
  • Defendant’s legal counsel or advice
  • Defendant’s knowledge of the judicial system and his rights
  • The absence of family support

Contact Us

For more information about coerced confessions and your rights, contact King County criminal defense attorney South King County criminal attorney , (253) 709-5050.

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