When police suspect someone has committed a crime, they want to have the evidence to make an arrest. Similarly, prosecutors want to have the evidence they can use to obtain a conviction. Few pieces of evidence are more powerful and more likely to result in a conviction than a defendant’s confession that he or she committed the crime charged. After all, if the defendant said he or she did it, who are jurors to disagree?
The problem is that many confessions are false – the result of overzealous, aggressive, and sometimes impermissible tactics used by police and prosecutors. In fact, false confessions are one of the most common reasons for wrongful convictions. According to the Innocence Project, 28% of all cases in which a defendant was ultimately exonerated involved the defendant falsely confessing to the crime.
Why Would Someone Confess to a Crime He or She Didn’t Commit?
People in custody are often scared and vulnerable, and police can engage in conduct designed to manipulate that fear and vulnerability in order to make suspects even more willing to say almost anything to get the abusive treatment to stop.
If you’ve been deprived of sleep, or isolated in a dark room unable to speak to family or friends for hours, and someone in a position of authority and control is continually yelling at you, threatening you with jail, or lying about what other people may have said, what would you say to make it all stop so you can go home?
Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent and to an Attorney
The possibility of making a false or coerced confession is why individuals facing police questioning need to exercise their constitutional rights to remain silent and obtain an attorney immediately. At Epstein & Conroy, we are available 24/7 to respond to calls from individuals who have been arrested or who are in police custody. We can immediately intervene on your behalf, sparing you any mistreatment or abuse and protecting you from making any admissions or confessions.
What Can Police Do During Interrogations?
Sadly, many aggressive or deceptive techniques used by police during interrogations are permissible. This can include:
- Lies and deception, about what other people have said or done, or evidence they may have obtained
- Falsely promising lenient treatment by prosecutors in exchange for cooperation in an effort to elicit a confession
- Using the “good cop/bad cop” technique, in which the “good cop” tries to elicit a confession by appearing friendly, sympathetic, and non-confrontational, especially when compared to the “bad cop”.
Even though police are allowed to be aggressive and even lie during questioning, certain conduct can go too far and call into question the admissibility of any information obtained during an interrogation. For example, a judge might consider the following when deciding whether an interrogation was improper:
- Whether the officers beat, physically harmed or threatened to harm the suspect
- Whether the interrogators threatened to arrest, jail or harm the welfare of the suspect's family members
- Whether officers isolated the suspect and/or compromised the suspect’s capacity for clear thought or reasoning through deprivation of sleep, water, food and/or toilet facilities
- Whether the interrogation was unrelenting or unduly lengthy
- Whether the police exploited a suspect’s weakness, such as youth, low IQ and/or compromised mental and emotional state.
When confessions are obtained through police misconduct during an interrogation, a skilled criminal defense attorney can get such statements excluded from evidence and significantly increase the chances of an acquittal. Calling a criminal defense attorney immediately is the best way to avoid any coerced confession and to spare yourself any mistreatment at the hands of police.
Call Epstein & Conroy Today to Protect Your Rights
If police have arrested you or detained you for questioning, please call the aggressive and experienced New York City criminal defense attorneys at Epstein & Conroy immediately at (718) 852-6763. We are available 24/7 and offer free initial consultations.