False confessions, false guilty pleas: Similarities and differences.

01/2010; DOI: 10.1037/12085-003

ABSTRACT This chapter compares and contrasts false confessions and false guilty pleas, paying particular attention to their estimated prevalence and the contexts in which they arise. A false confession is defined here as a statement provided to the police in which the person partially or fully admits guilt, or otherwise takes responsibility, for a crime he or she did not commit. A false guilty plea is defined as the acceptance of a plea offer from the prosecutor for a crime the person did not commit. Like false confessions, guilty pleas are acknowledgments for responsibility for the crime, particularly when the defendant has to allocute as a condition of the plea deal. False confessions and false guilty pleas are theoretically similar in their nature (i.e., taking responsibility for a noncommitted criminal act), underlying motivations, and often their consequences (e.g., a criminal record). However, there are qualitative differences between them as well. Although great strides have been made in understanding false confessions (e.g., Kassin & Gudjonsson, 2004; Lassiter, 2004), the topic of false guilty pleas has received almost no research attention, despite their known existence. Thus, an additional goal of this chapter is to spark empirical work on false guilty pleas, a problem arguably even larger than false confessions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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    Mental Retardation 01/2005; 42(6):484-7.
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    ABSTRACT: The Central Park jogger case and other recent exonerations highlight the problem of wrongful convictions, 15% to 25% of which have contained confessions in evidence. Recent research suggests that actual innocence does not protect people across a sequence of pivotal decisions: (a) In preinterrogation interviews, investigators commit false-positive errors, presuming innocent suspects guilty; (b) naively believing in the transparency of their innocence, innocent suspects waive their rights; (c) despite or because of their denials, innocent suspects elicit highly confrontational interrogations; (d) certain commonly used techniques lead suspects to confess to crimes they did not commit; and (e) police and others cannot distinguish between uncorroborated true and false confessions. It appears that innocence puts innocents at risk, that consideration should be given to reforming current practices, and that a policy of videotaping interrogations is a necessary means of protection.
    American Psychologist 05/2005; 60(3):215-28. · 6.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Inherent in false confessions is a person taking responsibility for an act he or she did not commit. The risk of taking such responsibility may be elevated in juveniles. To study possible factors that influence individuals' likelihood for taking responsibility for something they did not do, participants in a laboratory experiment were led to believe they crashed a computer when in fact they had not. Participants from 3 age groups were tested: 12- and 13-year-olds, 15- and 16-year-olds, and young adults. Half of the participants in each age group were presented with false evidence indicating liability. Additionally, suggestibility was investigated as a potential individual-difference factor affecting vulnerability to admissions of guilt. Results showed that younger and more suggestible participants were more likely than older and less suggestible participants to falsely take responsibility. Implications of these findings for juvenile justice are discussed.
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May 29, 2014