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Miranda Rights: Extended Interrogation Can Lead to Involuntary Confessions

In our criminal justice system, we have drafted and put into force rules of criminal procedure to outline the rights that are imbued to those who have been arrested and charged with a crime. One of those rights is the freedom to be free from coerced or involuntary confessions and any sort of interrogation methods that would elicit these types of confessions. These are less common forms that fall in line with one’s Miranda rights, the well-known speech spoken by detectives and police officers alike when a criminal defendant is taken into police custody.

The Miranda Rights

The following are the rights that must be told to criminal defendants upon arrest:

  • The right not to speak, as anything you say can be admissible as evidence against you during your criminal proceeding.
  • The right to counsel and to have an attorney present while being questioned by the police.

Furthermore, the state will appoint counsel if you are indigent and cannot pay. And finally you are permitted to exercise the above mentioned rights and not make a statement or answer any questions unless you consent to do so.

Right to be Free from Coerced and Involuntary Confessions

These Miranda warnings are for the most part the same from state to state; there may be variations in wording, but the meaning is the same: criminal defendants upon arrest are not required to speak to police officers and have the right to assistance from counsel (regardless of whether the defendant can afford one). These protections ensure that any statements made to police officers while in custody (and therefore in a vulnerable position) are not coerced nor elicited through threats or other involuntary means. A confession is considered involuntary if it is not a product of consent, free will, and rational intellect. This requires that the totality of the circumstances surrounding the police interrogation be examined to ensure that the confession was given freely without abusive tactics and interrogation methods by the police.

Extended Interrogation Method

One of the main interrogation methods, that has since been found illegal and therefore any statement made under this situation will be considered coerced, is extended interrogation. This means interrogating a criminal defendant for hours, without sleep, until he/she gives in and makes a statement. Not only is this illegal for criminal defendants, but also extended interrogation of witnesses may make any statement they make inadmissible. Not only is it coercive, but prolonged interrogation and lack of sleep can lead to mistakes in memory.

The Link between Sleep Deprivation and False Memories

According to a study published in Psychological Science, from the University of California, Irvine, it was found that sleep deprivation, i.e. getting less than five hours of sleep was associated with the creation of false memories. One hundred and four volunteers were shown photos of a crime scene, with significant details depicted in the photos. Some of the volunteers then got to go to bed immediately, while others were forced to stay awake for the rest of the night. Then both groups were read a narrative contradicting the details that were found in the photos (for example, a photo depicted a thief placing the stolen wallet in his jacket, while the narrative detailed that the thief put the stolen wallet in his pants pocket.) Those that stayed up for 24 hours were more likely to describe these crimes mixing in details from the narratives which contradicted the details found in the photos.

Legal Implications of Sleep Deprivation and False Memories

The legal implications of this research goes to show that memories, when the witness or defendant has had little to no sleep, may be easily manipulated by suggestion or false memories may be created, thus making any statements made by this person unreliable and therefore, inadmissible.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

A coerced confession is an inadmissible confession. If the police used interrogation methods that coerced you into making an involuntary confession, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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