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False Confessions Too Common Among Juveniles

Anyone who has watched Making a Murderer is familiar with the story of Steven Avery. His path from wrongfully accused inmate to winning money from the government to a suspect in a murder is full of drama. Whether or not Avery is guilty is not for the viewing public to decide. What can be taken from the show, however, is the quite-possibly coerced confession of Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey.

Thanks to recordings taken during Dassey’s police interviews, detectives can be seen virtually spoon feeding the young man information about a crime. Later, Dassey, an intellectually challenged person, with no lawyer or parent present, confesses to his part in a crime. We also watch as police tell Dassey not to worry, that he won’t get in trouble. It makes no sense to most people.

Many believe that someone confessing to a crime they did not commit is unlikely. After all, who is willing to go to prison for a crime they didn’t commit? The frightening fact is that false confessions among juvenile suspects reaches 38 percent when one looks at studies. It is not atypical of teenagers to fess up to things they simply haven’t done if only to escape the pressure being put upon them by police.

It is a common misconception that people will only confess to something they did not do if they are being physically threatened or tortured. The fact of the matter is that mental torture can cause a false confession just as quickly. It is especially common for this to occur among the juvenile population.

The way to combat this is not clear. What many believe a first step is is to ensure that all interrogations are recorded. Being able to watch a child’s “confession” is the only way to know whether or not they have been coerced into saying things by those in authority. A higher set of standards needs to be adopted and followed when it comes to interrogating minors. Until this happens, the rampant wave of false confessions among children is bound to continue.

If you require criminal defense in San Bernardino, please reach out to our offices today. A member of our team will review the details of your case at no cost to you and advise you how to best proceed. Call now.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.