False Confession By Shadan Seraj At LEXCLIQ

Justice leaves the high road when it is not dealt with according to the ‘due procedure established by Law.’ It is atrocious to observe that the ones safeguarding the rights and ensuring safety to the citizens can lead to their life’s end in the most obnoxiously condescending manner. In this article, the author has introduced a brief note on confessions and false confessions, reasons why innocents fall into the trap of giving false confessions, the types of false confessions that are given by innocent suspects, how false confessions are dealt with in India, and different countries.

A confession, under “Section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872” refers to the admission of any fact by the defendant in a manner that the same can be used against him in trial proceedings, initiated against him. Confessions are included in the part of admission since they are defined in the commission category. “Section 24 to 30 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 deals with a confession.” According to the criminal law in India, a confession is a statement given by an individual towards the acknowledgment and acceptance of his guilt of committing a crime. A confession is a declaration made by a convicted person that is used to determine the commission of an offence by him in a criminal case. A confession if produced knowingly and willingly can be recognised as definitive of the matters. A confession has a rule of going against the person who makes it. A confession can be either in oral or written form. “According to Section 30, Indian Evidence Act, Confessions made by one or two or more accused jointly tried for the same offence can be taken into consideration against the co-accused (Section 30).”

What is a false confession?

A false confession occurs when a person acknowledges guilt when they are not the perpetrator of the wrongdoing. The use of intimidation or force to obtain the statement may result in false confessions. They may also be the product of the accused’s mental incapacity. False admissions may sound impossible, but they happen all the time and can cause a lot of problems during a criminal trial. A false confession can occur when someone admits to a crime in order to draw away the court’s attention from the person who actually committed the crime. For instance, a person can confess to a crime in order to save a friend, family member, or a relative who is under investigation. False admissions may be used to escape harsh penalties, such as when someone pleads guilty to a lesser crime that they did not commit.

If a confession is revealed to be false, the judge will undoubtedly remove the assertion of the same from the documents, and it will no longer be admissible in court. In addition, the person who made the false confession may face additional penalties for lying in court. This is known as perjury.

Reasons for giving a false confession

According to expert Richard Leo on false confessions, there are majorly three reasons for making a false statement. These reasons can be,

(i) Misclassification error
A gruesome mistake occurs when the police officers or detectives inaccurately come to a conclusion that an innocent person is guilty. It is hypocritical on their part as the Law itself states, “innocent until proven guilty.” A particular person is targeted and the police on the basis of erroneous interrogations presume that the person is guilty. Misclassifying innocents is a very vital component of false confessions and wrongful convictions. The reasoning behind these erroneous decisions lies in the cognitive ability and lack of adequate training of these police officers and detectives. Detectives are instructed that if a target averts his eyes, slouches, appears lost clueless, changes his posture, brushes his nose, adjusts his glasses, bites his fingernails, or scratches the back of his head, he is likely lying and thus guilty. The subject who is wary, uncooperative, unresponsive, and gives broad condemnations and eligible responses are as well thought to be misleading and hence guilty.

(ii) Coercion error
When police officers or detectives mistake an innocent person for a criminal suspect, they often interrogate him. “Police use of interrogation techniques that are regarded as inherently coercive in psychology and law, or police use of interrogation techniques that cause a suspect to perceive that he has no choice but to comply with the interrogators’ demands.” The first type of coercive investigation/interrogation includes methods like deprivations of food, sleep, water, and access to bathroom facilities, incommunicado interrogation, and induction of extreme exhaustion and fatigue.

(iii) Contamination error
Psychologically manipulative policing procedures are the reasons behind how, why, and when a perpetrator is pushed from denial to acknowledgment of a crime. The officer’s/detective’s purpose is to produce a credible story leading to the suspect’s arrest. Interrogators have now become experts at inventing, implying, or eliciting an interpretation of the suspect’s motives in false-confession cases. Interrogators prompt the suspect to equate his decision to confess to a moral decision and to express regret for the crime he committed.

Types of false confessions
A false confession can be fabricated in different manners, depending on nature, circumstances, and gravity. These types are:

(i)Voluntary false confession
These confessions are made either on the basis of the confessor’s internal psychological thought process and conscience, or on the basis of some external pressure or coercion brought upon the confessor, but not by any officer/investigator in authority. Sometimes voluntary false confessions are motivated by psychological issues, for instance, a person might make a statement because of a desperate need for self-punishment or have the inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. An individual might make a voluntary false confession to protect and defend the real suspect, to provide an accomplice for a different crime or, to take an act of revenge on someone else. The judges and the attorneys are usually not very trustful of these kinds of confessions.

(ii) Complaint false confession
If officers use stress, intimidation, or coercion, and suspects are struggling to get away from a painful interrogation, they can confess whether or not they are guilty.

(iii) Persuaded false confession
Interrogation techniques may cause a person to doubt his or her own memory, leading him or her to believe that he or she committed the crime when he or she did not. This is usually accomplished in three stages:

• The interrogator uses prolonged, intense, and accusatorial questioning to make the defendant doubt his or her own innocence.
• Interrogators provide the accused with a justification for the crime and how it may have been committed without him or her remembering it. Multiple personalities, a blackout, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a repressed memory may all be suggested as reasons for the person’s behaviour.
• After pleading guilty to the crime since there is no other plausible reason, the offender may make up fake evidence to justify the crime because he sincerely believes he has committed it.

Laws In India
The court employs a number of techniques to deal with and detect false confessions. The term “confession rules” refers to a collection of rules that are commonly used for this purpose. If a person is caught making a false confession, the following steps against him can be taken:

“Contempt of Court Act, 1971” occurs when a suspect’s false confession disrupts or threatens to obstruct court proceedings and leads to a lack of cooperation from the opposing party. The confessor may be held in contempt by the Judge at any time.
Criminal charges may be filed. Any person who makes a false confession may be charged with additional offences, depending on when and where the confession was made, as well as to whom it was made. An individual faces the following charges:
A. Perjury (lying to the court)
“Perjury is defined as an offence of lying under an oath. Perjury means to lie in a court of law. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines ‘Perjury’ in Chapter IX “of false evidence and offences against public justice” under Section 191. The punishment for the offence of perjury is defined under Section 193 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 as seven years of imprisonment.”

B. Lying to a police officer
“Section 182 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860” – “False information, with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person. Whoever gives to any public servant any information which he knows or believes to be false, intending thereby to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, such public servant—

To do or omit anything which such public servant ought not to do or omit if the true state of facts respecting which such information is given were known by him, or
To use the lawful power of such a public servant to the injury or annoyance of any person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.”

Strategies to prevent false confessions

Innocents who fall prey and confess are treated in the worst of cruel ways.

• Interrogation should be done only of those suspects who have a reasonable cause and intent to commit malpractices.
• Differentiating false confessions. Investigators should have the required evidence to differentiate unreliable and false confessions from the true and reliable ones. • A fair and decent analysis of police interrogations of the suspect, incriminated and false statements, other vital facts and evidence of the case is a must. Since human-like detection techniques aren’t uptight, it is imperative to rely on a systematic analysis of evidence.
• Proper and complete analysis of the interrogations. There are two essential factors to this:
(i)whether the interrogation process involved any coercive/forceful methods, leading the suspect to give a false confession;

(ii)where the suspect could have acknowledged the details of the statements he made;

(iii)each minute of the confession should be recorded properly.

Punishment should not exist for revenge, but to lessen the crime rate and reform criminals. The most heinous crime one can commit is to frame an innocent individual for something that will make him pay a cost for which he is not even liable. The interrogators, officers, detectives in the process of targeting and framing an innocent are themselves falling inside the pit of filth and squalor.


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