The Tallahassee based Florida Innocence Commission has begun a new study, this one to analyze statewide interrogation tactics in an effort to limit false confessions and wrongful convictions. Earlier this year, the group completed a study on eyewitness questioning, a study that led to statewide policy. They are hoping this study goes in the same direction.
False confessions are more common than most people realize. According to The Innocence Project, in about 25% of all cases involving DNA exoneration the freed former-convict had confessed to the crime they were actually innocent of.
For people who have never been interrogated, this can seem crazy. After all, why would you admit to something you didn’t do, especially when it is a criminal offense?
Police interrogations are tense situations. The police enter that room with one thing in mind—getting a confession. The person in custody is someone they already suspect of a crime and a confession would affirm their suspicions and significantly ease their case. University of Virginia School of Law Professor Brandon Garrett says some detectives will use deception, fake promises, and threats as a means to that end.
Currently there is no statewide policy on interrogation practices. While the Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach Police Departments join the Broward Sheriff’s Office in requiring all interrogations to be recorded, other departments across the state do not.
Not only does a recording of the interrogation provide record of what happened, it keeps the detective honest and allows the department to monitor how their officers are handling these encounters that often take place between only two people.
The goal of the Innocence Commission is to keep innocent people from being convicted of crimes and to give those who’ve already been convicted an avenue to justice. By addressing some of the known trouble-areas of criminal prosecution, they can reduce the likelihood that someone will spend time in jail for something they didn’t do.
False confessions are typically done without a lawyer present, when a suspect is interested in putting the whole thing behind them and they honestly believe that confessing will allow them to leave the stressful environment of the interrogation move. While this is true, the jail they are moved to is rarely a better place.
When you are accused of a criminal offense and unsure of how to handle all the questions from police, contacting a criminal defense attorney can help you make more well informed decisions. Call our offices today to discuss the details of your case and how best to proceed.