Miranda and the Problem of False Confessions
in Richard A. Leo & George C. Thomas, eds., The Miranda Debate: Law, Justice, and Policing (Northeastern Univ. Press 1998).
12 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2012
Date Written: 1998
This chapter examines the relationship between Miranda and false confessions. Demonstrably false confessions from innocent suspects appear to occur with troubling, if unquantifiable, frequency in the United States. Unfortunately, Miranda fails to protect suspects in any meaningful way against the elicitation and admission of unreliable confession statements. The law governing confessions places far too much importance on the procedural fairness of the interrogation process and far too little importance on the substantive truthfulness of confession statements. To remedy this problem, confessions should not be admissible into evidence at trial unless they meet a reasonable standard of reliability based on Federal Rule of Evidence 403 or its state law equivalent. When suspects’ post-admission narratives fit poorly with crime facts, judges should exclude suspects’ confessions from evidence because their prejudicial effects will greatly outweigh their probative value.
Keywords: false confession, Miranda, police interrogation, evidence, criminal procedure
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation