A confession is a sworn statement by someone that they committed a certain crime. These statements may be made any time but are frequently made in court or to law enforcement officials. They may be used as evidence in criminal proceedings and can be quite compelling.

In television programs and movies about crime and criminal justice, a suspect's confession is often the climax of the story, a point of no return that seals their fate. However, little attention is paid to the circumstances under which the confession is made. And that can make all the difference in real-life criminal proceedings.

If law enforcement officials do not act properly, a confession that they see as the end of the story could be a meaningless piece of evidence that gets thrown out by a judge. There are three common situations in which a confession can be made invalid:

  1. If police officers question a suspect unlawfully before advising them of their Miranda Rights, the suspect's answers are generally not admissible in court. It is wise to not answer any questions until you've spoken with an attorney.
  2. Confessions made as part of a privileged communication also may be thrown out. The law recognizes certain relationships that should be confidential so any statements made to a clergy member, spouse, attorney or a doctor for the purposes of treatment are privileged and confidential.
  3. Finally, involuntary or coerced confessions are invalid. If you are threatened by police officers or made to confess against your will, it should not be allowed as evidence.

Every American is entitled to certain fundamental rights in the criminal justice system. If you are facing charges or feel that those rights have been violated, contact a criminal defense attorney who can help make sure that your interests are protected.

Source: The FindLaw Blotter, "3 Ways to Get a Confession Tossed Out of Court," Deanne Katz, Dec. 27, 2012

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