Confessions basically refer to the admission of any fact by the wrongdoer in such a manner that the same can be used against him in the criminal proceedings initiated against him. If a confession relating to any offense is made by a person who is not guilty of that offense, it is known as a False Confession. There… Read More »

Confessions basically refer to the admission of any fact by the wrongdoer in such a manner that the same can be used against him in the criminal proceedings initiated against him. If a confession relating to any offense is made by a person who is not guilty of that offense, it is known as a False Confession.

There can be a number of reasons for which, a person can give a false confession and admit to a crime for which he/she is not guilty. The common reasons involve threat from the investigating authorities, use of unfair means by the police during interrogation and many more. The Confession of an accused can be considered as one of the most important pieces of evidence as far as a criminal trial is concerned and hence, it is necessary to make sure that such evidence is kept free from all the fallibilities.

I. Introduction

A false confession occurs when a person acknowledges guilt when they are not the perpetrator of the wrongdoing. The use of intimidation or force to obtain the statement may result in false confessions. They may also be the product of the accused’s mental incapacity. False admissions may sound impossible, but they happen all the time and can cause a lot of problems during a criminal trial.

A false confession can occur when someone admits to a crime in order to draw away the court’s attention from the person who actually committed the crime. For instance, a person can confess to a crime in order to save a friend, family member, or a relative who is under investigation. False admissions may be used to escape harsh penalties, such as when someone pleads guilty to a lesser crime that they did not commit.

If a confession is revealed to be false, the judge will undoubtedly remove the assertion of the same from the documents, and it will no longer be admissible in court. In addition, the person who made the false confession may face additional penalties for lying in court. This is known as perjury.[1]

Young people are particularly vulnerable to confessing, especially when stressed, tired, or traumatized, and have a significantly higher rate of false confessions than adults. Hundreds of innocent people have been convicted, imprisoned, and sometimes sentenced to death after confessing to crimes they did not commit—but years later, have been exonerated.[2] It was not until several shocking false confession cases were publicized in the late 1980s, combined with the introduction of DNA evidence, that the extent of wrongful convictions began to emerge—and how often false confessions played a role in these.

II. Types of False Confession

1. Voluntary False Confession

These confessions are made either based on the confessor’s interior mental perspective and heart, or based on some outer pressing factor or compulsion brought upon the inquisitor, yet not by any official/agent in power. Here and there deliberate false confessions are inspired by mental issues, for example, an individual may say something on account of an urgent requirement for self-discipline or have the powerlessness to recognize reality and dream. An individual may make an intentional false confession to secure and guard the genuine suspect, to give an assistant to an alternate crime or, to render a demonstration of retribution on another person. The judges and the lawyers are normally not trustful of these sorts of confessions.[2]

In one of the United States cases, “John Mark Karr admitted to the homicide of six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey. Karr had been obsessed with every aspect of her murder, and he was extradited from Thailand based on his confession ten years after her death. However, his account contradicted case specifics, and his DNA didn’t coordinate with that found at the crime scene. His significant other and sibling said that he was at home in one more state at the hour of the homicide and had never visited Colorado. Examiners never accused him of the crime since his confession was so obtrusively false.”

2. Complaint false confession

If officers use stress, intimidation, or coercion, and suspects are struggling to get away from a painful interrogation, they can confess whether or not they are guilty. The subjects may expect to be that on the off chance that they admit to the crime, they will be delivered or will get away from a harder sentence. This is identified with the pressure blunder examined previously. Confessions are typically handily abjured by inquisitors after the scrutinizing is finished.

Cross-examination in a jail office is incredibly extreme, tension prompting, terrible, and upsetting. The cross-examiner’s conduct style can be a wellspring of misery. His accusatory strategies are regularly planned to cause nervousness by sabotaging the suspect’s confidence, keeping him from guaranteeing his guiltlessness, and causing him to feel helpless and trapped. The scrutinizing can most recent a few hours, similarly as with agreeable false confessions, debilitating the suspect’s obstruction, causing fatigue, and expanding suggestibility.[3]

3. Persuaded False Confession

Interrogation techniques may cause a person to doubt his or her own memory, leading him or her to believe that he or she committed the crime when he or she did not. This is usually accomplished in three stages:

  • The interrogator uses prolonged, intense, and accusatorial questioning to make the defendant doubt his or her own innocence.
  • Interrogators provide the accused with a justification for the crime and how it may have been committed without him or her remembering it. Multiple personalities, a blackout, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a repressed memory may all be suggested as reasons for the person’s behaviour.
  • After pleading guilty to the crime since there is no other plausible reason, the offender may make up fake evidence to justify the crime because he sincerely believes he has committed it.

III. Dealing of False Confessions in Different Countries

A. India

The court utilizes various strategies to manage and identify false confessions. The expression “confession rules” alludes to an assortment of decides that are regularly utilized for this reason. On the off chance that an individual is found making a false confession, the accompanying strides against him can be taken:

“Contempt of Court Act, 1971” comes into play when a suspect’s false confession disturbs or takes steps to hinder court procedures and prompts trouble from the contradicting party. The inquisitor might be held in contempt by the Judge whenever.

Criminal accusations might be recorded. Any individual who makes a false confession might be accused of extra offenses, contingent upon when and where the confession was made, just as to whom it was made. An individual faces the accompanying charges:

  • Perjury (misleading the court)

“Perjury is characterized as an offense of lying under a vow. Perjury means to lie in a court of law. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 characterizes ‘Perjury’ in Chapter IX “of false proof and offenses against public equity” under Section 191. The discipline for the offense of perjury is characterized under Section 193 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 as seven years of detainment.”

  • Lying to a Police Officer

“Section 182 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860” – False data, with an expectation to make public servant utilize his legal capacity to the injury of someone else. Whoever provides for any public servant any data which he knows or believes to be false, aiming along these lines to cause, or realizing that it will generally be likely that he will in this manner cause, such public servant.

B. United Kingdom

In the mid-1990s, a procedure known as the “investigative interview” was carried out in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is viewed as a world pioneer in ethical interviewing. In the United Kingdom, testimony is given great importance, and lawbreakers are dealt fairly instead of cruelly.

Threats or force, altogether known as coercion, are explicitly restricted in the United Kingdom. Over the long haul, the UK has enormously reinforced its interviewing strategies, putting a more noteworthy accentuation on relying on facts as opposed to getting a confession. Besides, recording the meeting has been made obligatory to secure the suspect’s interests.[4]

In the landmark case of Regina versus Mcilkenny and Ors.[5], otherwise called the BIRMINGHAM SIX, it was inferred that individuals react differently to confessions made under tension and force.

The case is related to the bombings that happened in two Birmingham bars, bringing about the killing of almost 200 individuals and the serious injuries of at least 21 others. This prompted the interrogation of six suspects, every one of whom was Irish Catholic immigrants, however, the attack was accused on the Provisional IRA. Following 16 years in jail, these suspects who were given life sentences were delivered as it was discovered that they had been unjustly convicted. It was accounted for that they were truly mishandled and examined in an unfair manner during their investigation time.[6]

C. United States

The Supreme Court of the United States has over and again revoked and created standards in regards to the reality, that confessions acquired through pressure, viciousness, power, and terrorizing can’t be utilized as proof for the accused’s prosecution.[7] The United States Supreme Court has spread out different guidelines for the same, for example,

DNA testing and exoneration – It guarantees that nobody is improperly accused and punished based on a false confession acquired under coercion. DNA tests will help choose whether or not an individual was engaged with a particular crime (explicitly the offenses including actual contact like assault).[8]

Diminishing third-degree treatment – In the past, cruel and insensitive strategies for interrogation were normal in the United States, however by the end of the nineteenth century, they had been significantly decreased and limited.

Accused people’s privileges – People are currently made mindful of their privileges, which incorporate being educated regarding the claims levelled out against them and being given a legal advisor to defend their case.

Torture by police officers on casualties who are either poor or violent suspects is a typical practice in Brazil. There is a great deal of police ruthlessness present. Suspects are exposed to such unforgiving and harsh treatment that they must choose the option to make false confessions to protect themselves.

In the Tarina Rape Case, four suspects were captured for mercilessly assaulting and killing a young lady before an amusement park, and they later conceded to the crime. Notwithstanding, after a careful investigation, examiners found that the young lady had not been assaulted and that the young men’s confessions were the aftereffect of torture. Afterwards, 13 police officers were confined, while the police chief got away.[9]

D. Canada

The ‘Reid Method,’ named after John Reid, a former Chicago police official, is a kind of interrogation procedure implemented in Canada. There are three stages to this method: real assessment, meeting, and interrogation. At first, hoodlums are just seen to decide whether they are lying or coming clean.

In the event that the questioner accepts the wrongdoer is lying, the interrogation is led so that the suspect is assumed blameworthy; this could incorporate interfering with any disavowals made by the suspect and declining to believe their story. An examiner may make false cases or even manufacture proof. In the 2011 Report’s suggestions, investigation rules for addressing suspects and witnesses were recharged.

IV. Conclusion

From the above discussion, it can be made out that awareness among the people about their existing rights is equally important as it is to implement the laws. In India, the restrictions on the days of custody as well as the medical examination of the accused reduces the risk of false confessions and such methods have proved to be appropriate in the Indian scenario.

Taking into consideration the global scenario, it seems that the developed countries have a well-established legal framework and guidelines to prevent false confessions but when we talk about the developing or the underdeveloped nations especially of the African as well as the South-Asian subcontinent, there is a lot of scope of improvement.

[1] Kassin SM. False Confessions: Causes, Consequences, and Implications for Reform. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

[2] Douglas Starr (13 June 2019). “This psychologist explains why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit”

[3] Fisher, R.P.; Geiselman, E.R. (2010). “The Cognitive Interview method of conducting police interviews: Eliciting extensive information and promoting Therapeutic Jurisprudence”. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry.

[4] Juan, Dr Stephen (1 September 2006). “What is a Confessing Scam?”. The Register. Situation Publishing. Retrieved 14 December 2018.

[5] (1991) 93 Cr App R 287

[6] Gross S: The risks of death: why erroneous convictions are common in capital cases. Buff L Rev 44:469–500, 1996

[7] Gudjonsson GH: The Psychology of Interrogations and Confessions: A Handbook. New York: Wiley, 2003

[8] “Burden of Innocence: Richard Danziger”. Frontline. PBS. Retrieved 13 December 2013.

[9] Ofshe R, Leo R: The social psychology of police interrogation: the theory and classification of true and false confessions. Stud Law Politics Soc 16:189–251, 1997

  1. Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary and Entrance Exams
  2. Legal Bites Academy – Ultimate Test Prep Destination
Updated On 14 Jun 2021 12:49 AM GMT
Antariksh Anant

Antariksh Anant

Antariksh is a Law student at RGNUL - Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law Patiala, Punjab, India.

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