What is a False Confession?

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  • Written By: Keith Koons
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 08 March 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
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A false confession is when a person gives testimony that is not actually true. This term normally applies to legal proceedings, and often it involves someone who is being questioned about a crime. Since this statement is an admission of guilt, it also simplifies legal proceedings. There are many reasons why people give false confessions, but in most cases, it has to do with the person being mentally ill or questioned while under duress.

In many regions of the world, when a person is suspected of being involved in a crime, he is brought in by the police for questioning. The actual interview process varies by region, but many law officials are very tough on suspects. Questioning can last for hours at a time or even days, and under the pressure, many suspects make a false confession to end the inquiry. From that point, many of their natural rights are automatically waived and many are not allowed to recant the statement.


False memory syndrome is used to describe when a person becomes convinced that what the investigator is saying must be true. Even though the person may not fully remember committing the crime, the story becomes plausible so the subject finally gives an admission of guilt. In some extreme cases, police officers have been charged with coercion because they provided the suspect with details that only the police and the criminal would actually know about. If this type of falsified evidence is discovered, it can often result in a mistrial and the authorities involved could face criminal charges.

Another type of false confession comes from those who are found to be mentally ill. They may give statements to police officials merely for the need of acceptance, thinking that they would gain popularity by admitting to a crime that they did not commit. In other cases, the individual could make a false confession because he truly believes that he is guilty, even though he had nothing to do with the crime.

While police around the world prefer to receive a confession in every case, that does not end the investigative process. The suspect's statements are instead used to build a case against him, and if the confession is genuine, then it usually assists officers in finding more evidence. A false confession is often easy to prove because the suspect could not have knowledge about intricate details of the case, like where a murder weapon was hidden or how a store was robbed. It is actually a crime in many areas to enter a false confession, but the mentally ill are rarely prosecuted for making the mistake.



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