In cases of wrongful convictions, it sometimes turns out the individual confessed to the crime, despite the fact that they didn’t commit that crime. They may have been convicted based on the confession and then cleared through DNA evidence, for example.
But this can be baffling to someone outside of the case. Why would someone ever admit to a crime that they didn’t commit, especially if that meant being convicted and spending time behind bars? There are actually quite a number of different reasons, so let’s look at a few of them.
Giving the “right” answer
In some cases, the perpetrator can tell what the police officers want to hear and will eventually tell them this. It often happens with young offenders, who may think that admitting to the crime is going to get them a lighter sentence or allow them to go home. There may be a point in an interrogation where someone will simply say whatever is necessary to get the interrogation to stop, whether or not they’re actually guilty.
Mistakes under stress
Another reason for a false conviction is that people will say things when they’re in a stressful situation that they may regret later. These people may be in shock based on the event that happened, it may be their first time dealing with the criminal justice system and it can all feel very overwhelming.
Covering for someone else
Finally, there are certainly cases where someone will give a false confession because they know who committed the crime and they are trying not to expose that individual. This may still not result in a conviction, however, because there wouldn’t be evidence to back up their statement.
Since we know false convictions happen with a fair bit of consistency, it’s important for those who are facing charges or who have been convicted to understand all of their legal options.