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Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney for false confessionsThose who are accused of committing crimes will often be unsure about their rights and the procedures followed when they are arrested and questioned by police officers. Unfortunately, this puts many people at a serious disadvantage, and they may say or do things that could be used against them in a criminal case. In far too many cases, police officers manipulate suspects into confessing to crimes that they did not commit, leading to convictions and lengthy prison sentences for those who are innocent. 

It is impossible to know how many people throughout the United States have been convicted based on false confessions. However, The Innocence Project, which has used DNA evidence to exonerate hundreds of people who have been wrongfully convicted, reports that false confessions were a factor in 29% of these cases. Those who are facing criminal charges or accusations will want to be sure to understand their rights and the ways they can avoid incriminating themselves.

Police Officers Are Allowed to Lie to Suspects

In most cases, false confessions occur because police officers mislead suspects or tell outright lies. The “Miranda rights” that protect suspects in the United States allow a person to decline to speak to police officers, while also giving them the right to have an attorney present during an interrogation. However, while police officers are required to inform suspects of these rights, they are not restricted from making misleading or false statements during an interrogation.

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney false confession

For decades, American citizens have expressed various concerns about the nation’s police force over things such as the disproportionate use of violence against people of color and allegations of officers shooting unarmed suspects. According to the latest information from the Washington Post, there are approximately 5,624 people who have been shot and killed by on-duty police officers since 2015, on average about 1,000 each year. Because of that, we are now seeing many police stations across the country implementing new de-escalation and diversity training for officers. However, another widespread and concerning issue that has not been addressed in the same manner is officers who coerce or solicit false confessions from suspects of a crime.

False Confessions Are Not Uncommon

According to The Innocence Project, 375 people have been exonerated by DNA evidence for crimes that they did not commit. Of those cases, 102 cases or 27 percent were wrongfully convicted because of false confessions. Other sources have estimated that nearly $450 million has been paid out by state governments to defendants in false confession exoneration cases. 

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Hartford criminal law attorney police interrogationIf you are arrested because you are suspected of committing a crime, there are certain procedures that must be followed. Before police can begin to interrogate you or ask you questions, they are required to read you your rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. These rights, known as Miranda Rights, include your right to remain silent or not incriminate yourself, your right to an attorney (or if you cannot afford an attorney, your right to have an attorney appointed for you at no cost), and your right to have your attorney present before you answer any questions.

Protecting the Constitutional rights of citizens has always been of great importance to both the federal government and individual state governments. Because of this, supreme courts often hear cases that assert that people were wrongly convicted of a crime because their Constitutional rights were violated. This is exactly the case in a recent appeals case heard by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

The Right to an Attorney During Interrogation

Earlier this month, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled on State v. Purcell, a case concerning a man arrested on sexual assault charges who was denied counsel after he made repeated, though indirect, statements about having an attorney present. The man was convicted of three counts of risk of injury to a child and received a sentence of 16 years in prison, suspended after 9 years, plus 10 years of probation. The man appealed the conviction, but the appellate court upheld the decision.

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