Article

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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