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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    ABSTRACT: When defendants plead guilty, they are asked a series of questions (the plea inquiry) in open court to ascertain whether pleas are made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily. There is a wealth of research on adjudicative competence, but little to none on the plea inquiry. Whereas competence is relevant to whether one has the ability to make knowing, intelligent, and voluntary decisions, the plea inquiry is relevant to whether one actually made such a decision. In the present study, 99 adult defendants who just pled guilty were interviewed and tested about aspects of the plea process. We found that whereas almost all defendants had little or no adjudicative competence deficits and claimed to have made a knowing plea decision, plea comprehension was generally poor. Two thirds of our sample was correct on less than 60% of questions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
    Psychology Public Policy and Law 11/2011; 18(4). · 1.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Over the past decade, knowledge on false confessions has grown tremendously. However, a similar knowledge base on true confessions has not. In the present study, independent, self-reported true and false confession experiences of persons with serious mental illness were compared. In addition to examining the crimes and police questioning that led to the true or false confession, we investigated the reasons behind the confessions and the eventual case outcomes. We found that, in comparison to true confessors (n = 30), false confessors (n = 35) were questioned more times, took longer to confess, perceived the evidence against them to be weaker, and reported significantly more external pressure and less internal pressure. Moreover, of those participants who were convicted, false confessors were four times more likely to receive a prison sentence than true confessors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
    Psychology Public Policy and Law 07/2011; 17(3):394-418. · 1.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the present study, we examined (a) the prevalence and characteristics of youths' true and false admissions (confessions and guilty pleas), (b) youths' interrogation experiences with police and lawyers, and (c) whether youths' interrogation experiences serve as situational risk factors for true and false admissions. We interviewed 193 14- to 17-year-old males (M = 16.4) incarcerated for serious crimes. Over 1/3 of the sample (35.2%) claimed to have made a false admission to legal authorities (17.1% false confession; 18.1% false guilty plea), and 2/3 claimed to have made a true admission (28.5% true confession; 37.3% true guilty plea). The majority of youth said that they had experienced high-pressure interrogations (e.g., threats), especially with police officers. Youth who mentioned experiencing "police refusals" (e.g., of a break to rest) were more likely to report having made both true and false confessions to police, whereas only false confessions were associated with claims of long interrogations (>2 hr) and being questioned in the presence of a friend. The number of self-reported high-pressure lawyer tactics was associated with false, but not true, guilty pleas. Results suggest the importance of conducting specialized trainings for those who interrogate youth, recording interrogations, placing limits on lengthy and manipulative techniques, and exploring alternative procedures for questioning juvenile suspects. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
    Law and Human Behavior 10/2013; · 2.16 Impact Factor


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May 29, 2014