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What You Need to Know About False Confessions Part 3

Unfortunately, violent crimes and sex crimes are two of the most common allegations that result in a false confession. In this three-part article series, sex crime defense attorneys in Tampa are discussing how the police can coerce a detained suspect into confessing to a crime they did not commit. In the first section, we covered the most effective technique used to interrogate a suspect, the Reid technique. In the second section, we covered why the police rely so heavily on confessions. In this section, we will discuss many other common factors involved in a false confession.

The Age of the Suspect

The age of a suspect is a primary factor in a person falsely admitting guilt. According to The Innocence Project, 49 percent of false confessors were 21 years old or younger with people 18 or younger accounting for 34 percent of that figure. There are several connections between juvenile crimes and false confessions. Some reasons include:

  • The suspect is young and afraid
  • The suspect does not fully understand the consequences of a confession
  • The suspect is emotionally fragile and wants to please the interrogator

Generally, suspects that have a lower-than-average IQ or a mental illness are more likely to falsely confess to a crime. Whether it’s trickery, being misled into believing that they must comply, or simply wanting to go home, they are coerced into confessing to the crime.   

Mounting Stress

The environment of an interrogation room was created to make the suspect uncomfortable and stressed. False confessions are more apt to occur when the suspect is detained and questioned for a longer period of time. In many cases, suspects are not fed, provided water, or allowed sleep during a lengthy interrogation process. There is a direct correlation between stress, fatigue, lengthy interrogations, and suspects mentally and physically breaking down and giving in.  


The police questioning the suspect often combines actual evidence from the scene of the crime with their narrative of the guilty party’s actions. Moreover, they inform the suspect of this evidence and how it proves they’re guilty. By creating this narrative, they are feeding the suspect factual information from the case that they would otherwise not be aware of. For example, if a suspect is accused of rape, the police officer may mention that a strand of the victim’s blond hair was found in their apartment. Of course, the suspect may not know the color of the victim’s hair without this information. Police can contaminate an interrogation to not only try to place the suspect at the scene of the crime but to also ensure that the suspect’s confession is consistent with the evidence and witnesses’ statements they have obtained.  

For a free consultation with an experienced sexual assault defense attorney 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.