False Confessions in the Twenty-First Century

The Champion magazine, (2016) Forthcoming

Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2016-15

23 Pages Posted: 5 May 2016 Last revised: 17 May 2016

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco - School of Law

Brian L. Cutler

University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)

Date Written: April 1, 2016

Abstract

Although the Miranda decision changed police behavior insofar as they routinely provide at least a nominal Miranda warning to suspects, police have strategically adapted their warning practices so that they do not inhibit self-incrimination by suspects. Thus, Miranda has done little to reduce the risk of wrongful convictions resulting from false confessions. This article suggests ways that criminal defense attorneys can use existing studies about the causes of false confessions to mount false confession defenses. Studies have repeatedly shown that if a false confession is introduced into evidence at trial -- even if it is obtained under questionable conditions, supported by no independent evidence, contradicted by substantial evidence, and ultimately proven false -- it is highly likely to lead to a wrongful conviction. For this reason, it is incumbent upon criminal defense attorneys to be well-versed in the social science research on interrogation and confession in order to aggressively and effectively litigate false confession cases.

Keywords: Miranda v. Arizona, police interrogation, false confessions, wrongful convictions, criminal law, law enforcement

Suggested Citation

Leo, Richard A. and Cutler, Brian L., False Confessions in the Twenty-First Century (April 1, 2016). The Champion magazine, (2016) Forthcoming; Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2016-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2763910

Richard A. Leo (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

Brian L. Cutler

University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) ( email )

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