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False Confessions: How and When to Suppress Them

April 5, 2021

Do you think you’ve given incriminating testimony or statements to the police following an arrest, be it your own, a loved one, or a friend? If you do, you can file for a motion to suppress. This appeal allows you to suppress your statement, which may lead the court to exclude your confession from the trial evidence. This post could be your guide if you want to file for this motion.

Motion to Suppress: What Is It?

In simplest terms a motion to suppress seeks to exclude evidence (e.g., testimony, confession) from the trial. The defendant must be able to base the claim for exclusion on the state laws, U.S. constitution, or specific statutes.

When Can You File for a Motion to Suppress for False Confessions?

So, how can a defendant qualify to file this motion? Based on trial manuals for attorneys, these are the situations that may form a strong basis for excluding a confession from court hearings:

  1. The defendant wasn’t given the Miranda Warning – This notice refers to the constitutional requirement of the police to remind the detainee about their right to remain silent and have an attorney, especially during interrogations. Without the Miranda warning, the accused individual could make unnecessary statements, which could be incriminating.

  2. Threat or actual use of physical force – Confessions made due to serious physical abuse will make the defendant’s statements involuntary or even false.

  3. Overbearing, intimidating, or difficult situations during the detention or interrogation – The length and environment of the interrogation could also affect the quality of the statements. For example, accused individuals who were not given proper meals and places to sleep for days before the questioning can’t be expected to give clear and honest statements.

  4. Promises of leniency or threat of severe governmental action – Defendants who are unaware of their rights could also give false testimonies if they’re offered leniency or threatened to be given severe sanctions.

  5. Artifices or tricks – Bribery, deceptive questioning tricks, and suggestibility are also sneaky ways to get a confession. But statements made due to these tactics could be considered involuntary.

These are all dire situations that could push defendants to the edge and force them to make false confessions. The following are also the most at risk of these situations:

  1. Youth

  2. Defendants with limited education, intellectual disability, or mental illness

  3. Defendants who are still under the influence or effects of drugs or alcohol

  4. Lack of experience in dealing with police questioning

  5. A combination of these factors

What’s the Best Way to Prove a Coerced Confession?

The best way to assess a confession is to listen to a recording of the interrogation. With this method, you can tell by the tone of the defendant’s and interrogators’ voice whether there’s a threat, abuse, or coercion that’s happening.

Are you now considering a motion to suppress a false confession for yourself or a loved one? If you are and you’re in Florida, consider getting in touch with Attorney Tom McGuire and his team at Panhandle Defense Firm. They might be able to help you out.