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False confessions

Discussion in 'Legal' started by ilbob, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. ilbob

    ilbob Well-Known Member

    Last night there was a show on one of the cable channels about how cops get innocent people to confess to crimes. It was quite fascinating and a bit nerve wracking.

    All the more reason to never talk to LE without your lawyer present. You just are not in a position to think clearly when you are in custody and need a person who is looking after your interests there.

    Think about your emotional state after some kind of SD incident. You are not expecting the "good" guys to go after you the victim, but it could well happen, and you need to protect yourself.
  2. JCF

    JCF Well-Known Member

    It's indeed a good idea to think about consulting legal representation whenever you are having discussions or making statements that have life-altering potential.

    It's also a good idea to think about the legal implications of shooting somebody, and whether or not your actions in doing so are going to very quickly change your role to that of the bad guy.

    The unfortunate truth of some situations is that there are individuals who do not grasp the fact that victim is not a static condition.

    When you are standing at the bus stop with your lady friend and some idiot approaches you and comments on the qualities of her lower anatomy you are a victim. When you shoot him three times in the head for doing so, you are not.

    It is unfortunately sometimes the role of the "good guys" to straighten out those misunderstandings. Yes, sadly there is such a thing as a false confession. And sometimes there is just such a thing as clarification; a confession to something that wasn't intially thought to be wrong.
  3. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    I don't doubt that we have the occasional cop or DA who's so eager to close a case that they'll abuse the whole system. There's no doubt that it's evil and horrible.

    But when you consder the number of felony indictments handed down without benefit of confessions of whatever sort, I think you'd be hard put to call it any sort of systemic problem.

    Just the borough of Queens, NYC, hands down some 4,500 felony indictments in a year. You can probably find a hundred equal-population judicial districts. Plus, there's the rest of the country...

    TV can bring light upon abuses, but always remember they're in business to sell excitement--and advertising.

  4. ilbob

    ilbob Well-Known Member

    I was not listening as closely as I might have been, so I don't recall the exact number, but I seem to recall the program claimed a majority of cases actually have some kind of confession involved.

    But, I was not listening real close when they talked about that particular aspect of the issue, so my recollection may be faulty.
  5. El Tejon

    El Tejon Well-Known Member

    The police do not exist to debrief the innocent.

    You are guilty, they just need to pry it out of you. The police even go to school to help get it out of you. http://www.reid.com/
  6. Geno

    Geno Well-Known Member

    Sounds about right...

    However, even the most reliable of these interview techniques, the PBDI, has an inter-interviewer reliability of not more than .80 and that when conducted flawlessly...which is near impossible! But think about it, .80? That is not very impressive. All the same, many users of such techniques boast of their near perfect record. Yeahhhh.

  7. El Tejon

    El Tejon Well-Known Member

    Doc, do you have a cite for that PBDI study and the contention that it is the most accurate? TIA.:)
  8. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    ilbob, I'll retract to this extent: Lots of confessions, but after being confronted with other evidence. "We have your fingerprints and three eye-witnesses. You want to tell us about it?"

    I was thinking more of any case where a confession was about all that was available to enable a prosecution.

  9. JCF

    JCF Well-Known Member

    I dunno Art. I mean I watched the Shawshank Redemption on video, and Morgan Freeman himself said that he was the only one in Shawshank Prison that was actually guilty. Food for thought. :rolleyes:
  10. Geno

    Geno Well-Known Member

    Yes, in my office

    I do have the textbook...it's titled, The Selection Interview (I believe). I just had a 6.5 hours neurosurgery last Thursday so I can't go to the office yet. When I do, I can e-mail the ISBN and all to you.

    For what it's worth, I find the .80 a bit excessive. I would say perhaps .60 to .65 based on my experiences. Let me know if you do want the info when I go back to the office (Feb. 27).

  11. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Well-Known Member

    I agree. After the indictment there usually are plea bargaining sessions The defendant (who knows what they did or didn't do) gets options to plea to lesser offenses, dropping of some of the charges, promise of a less than maximum sentence or a combination of all three. AFAIK you lose any appeal rights when you plea bargain because you have to admit to the judge you did what you are pleaing to.

    PS Prisons are not full of innocent people. Rarely someone gets screwed.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2007
  12. F4GIB

    F4GIB Well-Known Member

    No. Lots of people get screwed. They just don't go to prison.
    Any conviction will RUIN your nice middle-class life.
  13. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    There are better reasons than this to not talk to police by yourself.

    When our Study Group conducts Simunitions/Force on Force scenarios, we do immediate debriefs with the Practitioner. Immediate meaning - we pull up our face shields, walk over to the front of the stage/range, and do a "What did we see" session.

    Invariably, the Practitioner experiences distortions in the event. Timeline gaps; inaccuracies in conversations - unrecalled exchanges, or distortions in conversations; rounds fired - mostly he recalls shooting less than he did, although I've seen Practitioners insist they fired, but when he inspects the gun he finds no rounds fired at all; the placements of the Role Players; weapons they thought were present, or lack of recalling someone with a weapon.

    The rare times Practitioners recall events accurately are the highly experienced ones that have mastered their fears and learned to retain mental self-discipline.

    These distortions in facts are understandable to us. We know they happen, because we've seen it hundreds of times. Now, a detective or DA might or might not understand it. But, he might also interpret it as a lie, too. It just depends.

    A jury, on the other hand, is very unlikely to actually understand what happens to a person in that circumstance. They will want to know why a defendant stated he shot someone twice to the detective, but the evidence shows he show him five times. Or, the defendant says the man was at 3 feet, but the evidence shows he was at 10. Et cetera.

    These reasons are why defendants are urged not to speak for themselves. Do not go on record with your recollections, because they may not match what the evidence shows actually happened. You are in no condition to defend yourself, and actually have emperical evidence to legitimately support your silence isn't hindering them when your recollections may not be helpful.
  14. Geno

    Geno Well-Known Member

    +1 for bullfrogken

    +1 for bullfrogken

    This is what our MCPL instructor, as well as the Tactical, Advanced-Tactical instructors have told us. If ever involved in a shooting, advise the police that you have every intent in cooperating fully, but need to calm your senses first. Also, lawyer up. The police are not in the prove you innocent; they are in the business of bring about a conviction...period.

    Also, the S.I. (P.B.D.I. format) that I mentioned earlier is more consistent with selection interviewing than for criminal interviewing, although, the FBI is alleged to use this technique (per Prof. Sam Moore MSU).

    The "S.I. P.B.D.I." means Structured Interview: Patterned Descriptive Behavior Interview format). A structured Interview is generated, and uses the same schedule of questions for all participants and by all interviewers. Answers are based in the past tense under the assumption that the best predictor of the future is the past (people are creatures of habit). The other enhancer to reliability is that the participants' answers can be affirmed/refuted/extended by others knowledgeable of the happening/event.

    The weakness of S.I. (structured interview) of the P.B.D.I. format is that it can be too structured and thereby not permit unsolicited information that may be extraordinarily important. An additional weakness is precisely what bullfrogken sets forth...people do not always perceive matters accurately, but this does not mean that they lied. We used this interview technique for investigating happenings in M.S. and H.S. discipline. We also used it for intake employment interviews.

    Great thread folks!!

  15. cassandrasdaddy

    cassandrasdaddy Well-Known Member

    not true

    "Any conviction will RUIN your nice middle-class life.

    only if you let it. we live in a world(or at least most of us do) where you can get second and third chances. just gotta want em and be willing to work your tail off to earn em. its the second requirement that runs off the girls, easier to whimper and whine than work plenty of sisters shoulders to cry on out there
  16. JCF

    JCF Well-Known Member


    And I've got to say that my personal experience has been that one does not seem to have to even work that incredibly hard so much as they have to be truly committed to overcoming and undoing what brought them to the place where criminal behavior as a lifestyle was ok in the first place.

    It is absolutely astonishing how many functional, succesful, and apparently now upstanding and law-abiding citizens have had a couple of interesting judgemental lapses in their lifetime.

    Then again... maybe they actually didn't, and it's all a grand setup.
  17. cassandrasdaddy

    cassandrasdaddy Well-Known Member

    don king

    said it well only in america
    i worked for a german chef he used to say how lucky i was to have screwed up in usa get a good second chance he said i might have found itn harder in his home
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2007

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