How Florida Police Get False Confessions in Criminal Cases
The concept of a false confession is rarely as obvious as what you see on TV or in film, where a hard-headed detective harasses a suspect into admitting to criminal activity. In the real-life criminal justice system, police may use more subtle ways to get you to talk – which could potentially lead to your conviction and punishment. Unfortunately, false confessions occur all too often. According to the Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to preventing wrongful convictions, almost one-third of all people exonerated by DNA evidence did falsely confess during questioning by police.
The best way to prevent officers from obtaining a false confession from you is to consult with a Florida criminal defense lawyer as early as possible in the criminal process. You might also benefit from a few tips.
Pressure from Law Enforcement: Situations of physical abuse are rare, but even being interviewed by police under high-pressure circumstances is intimidating. Officers may take advantage of your fear and anxiety, potentially convincing you that you should confess to a crime you didn’t commit. Intimidation may involve threats to your personal life, employment, reputation, and other factors that affect you financially, emotionally, or psychologically. Police may even employ the classic “good cop/bad cop” scenario in an attempt to get you to admit to illegal activity.
Deceptive Interviewing Practices: Police can – and often do – engage in misleading and deceiving tactics when they’re questioning you about your involvement in a crime. Officers may tell you that they:
- Have evidence proving you committed the offense;
- Talked to a witness who saw you engaging in criminal activity; or,
- Received information from another suspect, who implicated you or blamed you for the crime.
Deception can be confusing and overwhelming, possibly leading to a false confession.
Promises of Harsher Punishment: The penalties for a criminal conviction will certainly weigh heavy on your mind during questioning by police. You may consider cooperating – and possibly confessing – if they tell you that the charges and/or punishment will be worse. Alternatively, officers might say that your punishment will be lighter if you help. Don’t fall victim to this practice. It’s very unlikely that police can make any changes to the charges you might face. The definition of any crime is very specific and described in the relevant section of the Florida criminal code.
In addition, officers typically don’t have the power to change your punishment. The criminal penalties are also established by law; in some situations, not even a judge can deviate or use discretion to alter your sanctions.
A Skilled Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
When being questioned by police, always remember that you have constitutional rights; staying silent and retaining a lawyer are two of the most important ones. Even if you’ve already falsely confessed there may be options to reverse your situation. For more information, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer Kevin J. Kulik to schedule a free consultation at our office. We can provide additional details once we have a chance to review the circumstances of your case.