While most states still don't require it, many states are beginning to mandate that police record all confessions in criminal cases. For example:
- Wisconsin requires all questioning of juveniles in custody to be recorded, when possible.
- Alaska and Minnesota require all questioning while a suspect is in custody to be recorded.
- In Massachusetts, the court must instruct the jury that it may find that the prosecution has not carried its burden of proving that a confession was voluntary if the prosecution didn't record the confession.
Some states follow the corpus delicti rule, which prohibits a conviction based only on a defendant's confession. These states require objective evidence establishing each element of the crime, although the evidence need not establish that the defendant was the culprit. Pursuant to this rule, some states require the prosecutions to set forth a prima facie case with independent evidence before a confession can be admitted into evidence.
If the police do have a recorded confession, a Sugar Land criminal lawyer may try two tactics to attack it:
The confession was obviously coerced.If a confession clearly controverts the forensic evidence and credible testimony, a Sugar Land criminal lawyer can convincingly argue that the police used coercion to provoke the defendant to confess to a lie. In fact, in such a situation an effective Sugar Land criminal lawyer can argue that the jury should reject not only the confession, but the prosecution's entire case due to police's total contempt for the truth.
The interrogator put words into the defendant's mouth.If a significant period of time passed from the beginning of the interrogation until the police began recording the confession, a Sugar Land criminal lawyer can argue that the police purposely neglected to record the circumstances leading to the confession, in which the defendant first denied guilt and then was strong-armed into confessing. This strong-arming is most obvious if the police used leading questions to extract the confession and the defendant replies listlessly.
If you or someone you love has been arrested, contact experienced Sugar Land criminal lawyer John Venza.