According to the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, many people confess to crimes they did not commit. Approximately 25% of people exonerated on DNA evidence falsely confessed or pled guilty to a crime they did not commit. This is the case, in part, because of interrogation techniques employed by law enforcement officers. It is law enforcement’s job to try their best to uncover the details of a crime. It is important, however, to know your rights if you find yourself on the other side of the interrogation table.
If you are apprehended for a crime and interrogated by police, you have rights during that time. The first thing you should do is ask for an attorney. This is an important legal right because an attorney can provide guidance during such a stressful and intimidating time. The most important right you have, however, is the right to remain silent. It is to your benefit to remain silent until your attorney arrives. This is so you don’t accidentally say something that hurts your case. Such statements occur more often, and more easily, than you might think.
If, however, you falsely or accidentally confess to a crime, there is hope. Not all confessions will hold up in court. The North Carolina Court of Appeals released an opinion on May 19, 2020, State v. Lynch. This opinion clarifies that certain interrogation methods, used to prompt confessions, are not permissible. If an officer uses such a method, and you confess, the confession will not be admitted into evidence. State v. Lynch tells us that impermissible methods may include: making unprompted promises, bringing up religion, and lying about evidence.
In evaluating whether an interrogation was proper, courts look at the event as a whole, including all circumstances. Certain occurrences, however, specifically make it unlikely for your confession to be admissible in court. Your confession is unlikely to hold up in court if the officer promises to get the judge to be lenient. This is not something he or she can guarantee. If an officer coerces your confession by using your religion, this is also unlikely to hold up. For example, an officer should not ask you “what would God think?” to get you to confess. Finally, if an officer falsely describes evidence he or she doesn’t really have, your confession may be considered involuntary.
Asking a question about confessing, makes it is more likely what you say will be admissible in court. This may be the case even if the officer makes one of the impermissible statements, described above. This is because the question makes it seem less likely that the officer coerced your confession. If you have a question about the possibility of confessing, it is best to speak with your attorney.
Our attorneys are well equipped to offer advice on criminal matters, including how a confession affects your case. We are ready to help you through this difficult time, and we will stand up for you and make sure your rights are protected. Contact us at (888)748-KING (5464) or visit our website to speak with one of our skilled attorneys. With offices located across Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, we are here to serve you and provide you with the best defense possible.