Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

The Decision to Confess Falsely: Rational Choice and Irrational Action

144 Pages Posted: 19 May 2008  

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco - School of Law

Richard J. Ofshe

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Sociology

Abstract

Using empirical evidence from police interrogations in a few national and international jurisdictions, this article studies the dynamics of confessions in the American criminal justice system. The article documents the process of interrogation and explains why police-induced false confessions, like truthful ones, are rational responses to the influence tactics and manipulation strategies that American police use during interrogation. The article argues that false confessions occur when interrogation tactics are not understood and are misused by law enforcement, most often due to negligence or improper training. Finally, the article discusses how to better identify false confessions and decrease the miscarriages of justice caused by them.

Keywords: Criminal procedure, law enforcement, false confessions, taping, recording, interrogation techniques, empirical legal research

Suggested Citation

Leo, Richard A. and Ofshe, Richard J., The Decision to Confess Falsely: Rational Choice and Irrational Action. Denver University Law Review, Vol. 74, No. #, 1997. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1134046

Richard A. Leo (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

Richard J. Ofshe

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Sociology ( email )

410 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
1,033
Rank
16,535
Abstract Views
3,640