False Confessions and Your Miranda Rights

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The NYTimes recently discussed a situation where a police officer was beating individuals until they provided false confessions.  This type of work is precisely what Miranda seeks to protect but unfortunately, the prosecutors in NY just like other prosecutors throughout the country, chose to ignore the Unconstitutional work of their police and attempt to prosecute people despite the actions of the police.

False Confessions are hardly a new issue in criminal law.  In the case of Miranda, the Arizona police had beaten Mr. Miranda quite considerably and had a culture of beating individuals to obtain false confessions.  The police would then give the prosecutors the false confessions that they would use to prosecute innocent people in court.  Additionally, police commonly use jail house snitches which is, in essence, paid testimony.  The police tell a person he is getting his life back if he tells the jury whatever they want him to say (If you were looking at 100 years in prison, wouldn’t you consider telling a lie to get out?).

One of the essential problems with a false confession is that the police officer is given the benefit of the doubt in courts.  Jurors tend to believe police officers more than other people, regardless of what the jurors tell attorneys before the trial begins.  When a police officer is on the stand, and he says the person confessed to a crime, the jury tends to believe the officer.

Following the police testimony, if the defendant takes the stand, it is very difficult for the defendant to become more believable than the police officer, especially because he is the one being accused of a heinous crime.

Problems with false confessions highlight the need for video recording of all interrogations.  The recordings should not just document the interrogation itself, but the entire police encounter.  In other words, if a police officer is talking to someone and interacting with someone, it needs to be recorded.  That is the only way to protect the innocent.  If the camera doesn’t work, then the interrogation should come to an end until the police get a recording device that works or else the police should not be allowed to use the testimony.

It is simply unreasonable in today’s world, where virtually everyone has a camera on them at all times, that the police cannot seem to find a camera that works.

The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as the creation of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney.

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Nathaniel has worked in criminal law on both sides of the aisle spending time working for the prosecution as well as the defense. Most recently Nathaniel has represented individuals in violent felonies and drug cases. Prior to this work, Nathaniel handled DWIs, Domestic Violence Cases, Property Crimes, and White Collar Crimes. On the prosecutorial side, Nathaniel has most notably worked in Bosnia helping to prosecute individuals who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Bosnian War from 1993-1995. In particular, Nathaniel helped in the prosecution of military leaders who arranged for the organized murders and rapes of innocent civilians in various towns in Bosnia. Nathaniel is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Northwestern University, and Phillips Exeter Academy. Google Profile: Nathaniel Baca