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What You Need to Know About False Confessions Part 1

It may seem illogical that an innocent person would admit they are guilty of a crime they didn’t commit; however, the fact remains that false confessions are a common root to a wrongful conviction. In this three-part article, an experienced federal criminal defense attorney in Tampa will discuss several reasons why false confessions happen so frequently. Remember, if you have been accused of a serious crime you did not commit, you require the services of a knowledgeable federal defense lawyer in Tampa.

The Reid Technique

Some critics would go as far as to say that interrogation is an art form. Although most of the tactics the police deploy during an interrogation are legal, sometimes law enforcement crosses the line. For example, let’s review the most common and effective interrogation technique the police have used throughout history known as “the Reid technique.”

Developed by polygraph expert John Reid, the Reid technique was conceptualized in the 1940s and well-established by the 1950s. Although considered controversial, it has been consistently utilized by law enforcement for well over half of a century with successful results. There are three phases to this interrogation style and each phase is designed in a specific way that essentially breaks down the suspect psychologically leaving them mentally exhausted and more susceptible to giving in and confessing (even if they did not commit the crime).

The three stages of this interrogation method include:

  • Isolation: The suspect is removed from their familiar surroundings. In other words, they are placed in a windowless interrogation room where they wait in an uncomfortable chair for several hours. Without any news related to their detention, the suspect will become fearful.
  • Guilty Conscious: The interrogator arrives and informs the suspect that they know they’re guilty. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the interrogator may provide a narrative with evidence that supports this theory. There may actually be no real evidence of the crime and this theory may completely lack merit; however, the interrogator attempts to coerce the suspect into believing their guilt has already been determined by the police.
  • Convince the Suspect to Confess: The interrogator then shows compassion for the suspect’s predicament and acts as if they can relate to the alleged motive the suspect had for committing the crime. During this time, the interrogator is attempting to pinpoint a motive by floating more theories. In this final phase, the interrogator is no longer receptive to denials from the suspect and only offers them the opportunity to confess to the crime. The interrogator may even downplay the penalty for the crime to seek this confession and stress that a confession will provide relief for the suspect.

For more information on false confession techniques, please read sections two and three.

For a free consultation with an experienced federal defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.