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After your arrest, don’t answer questions without your attorney

Aggressive prosecutors might assume the worst from circumstantial evidence. They may even be able to convince a jury of an innocent defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Although juries may sometimes get it wrong, do some criminal defendants play a hand in their own wrongful convictions?

According to the National Registry of Exonerations’ database of 1,900 wrongful convictions, around 12 percent resulted from false confessions. How could this happen? One former detective’s book points to police interrogation techniques as the culprit.

In fact, the former detective had a personal experience of obtaining a false confession after a 16-hour investigation. He describes his approach as typical of many police interrogations, starting with the premise that the suspect is guilty. Unfortunately, police may carry that premise too far, denying suspects the opportunity to deny the accusations against them, perhaps even lying about the weight of the evidence that allegedly points to the suspect’s guilt.

The detective offers an easy recommendation for reform: videotaping all interrogations. Our Leesburg criminal defense law firm offers another safeguard: utilizing a defendant’s right to counsel. If you have been arrested for a crime, make sure you have your attorney present during any police questioning.

Our attorneys have the experience to prepare a strong criminal defense and advocate on your behalf. We guide our clients through every step of the legal process, in or out of court. Don’t try to withstand psychologically coercive police techniques on your own, or assume that the court is on your side. A judge will rule on whether confession evidence was admissible, but not necessarily whether it was obtained by overly coercive techniques.

Source: Washington Post, “Homicide detective’s book describes ‘How the Police Generate False Confessions’,” Tom Jackman, Oct. 20, 2016

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