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What constitutes a coerced confession?

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2022 | Police Misconduct

Greater coverage of police misconduct has encouraged various authorities to revisit law enforcement interrogation techniques. States like Illinois and Oregon have enacted restrictions on police lying to individuals in custody.

What are the rights of residents of Solano County when questioned by police, and when is a confession inadmissible in court?

Questionable use of the Reid technique

The California legislature approved a bill introduced by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to improve criminal investigations. Lawmakers deemed the statute necessary because police forces train officers in the Reid technique, which presumes guilt and relies on psychological manipulation.

Advocates of the method claim false confessions only arise when officers exceed the boundaries taught. Yet, police retain the legal right to deceive suspects in attempts to extract a confession.

As expected, officers can more easily pressure young adults and minors into false confessions. Adults are not immune to manipulation either. Sufferers of mental illness or depression could be more easily swayed by interrogation and pressure.

Questionable convictions

Law enforcement officers interrogated Roger Wayne Parker of Riverside County for 15 hours, leading to Parker’s confession of murder. Parker has an IQ below 80. Yet, line prosecutors were not convinced of Parker’s guilt since the crime scene lacked fingerprint or DNA evidence linking Parker to the crime.

The State pursued the case, and Parker remained in jail for almost four years until the district attorney dropped the case. The example shows that defendants can lose much time fighting charges after a coerced confession.

The United States Constitution provides all citizens the right against self-incrimination. A confession or statement that is involuntary is inadmissible at trial. Remember that you have the right to remain silent and the right to have a lawyer present during any questioning by police.