The Truth Told: Is Confession Enough for Conviction?

Judge gavel and scale of justice

It’s often a familiar scene in crime fiction television shows: A man in the interrogation room, confessing to a crime. The next scene is predictable too, with the man declared guilty before the court. But in real life, can admitting to a crime be enough for conviction?

Beyond Saying “I Did It”

According to law experts in Washington, there’s a law principle called “corpus delicti,” meaning “body of the crime,” that necessitates some kind of evidence apart from the confession to establish that a crime was done.

For instance, someone took themselves to the police station and said that they’ve murdered someone, but couldn’t say who it is they’ve killed or where the murder weapon is. It would be difficult for the police to follow up on the case, and find evidence that supports the person’s statement. Therefore, no crime would be established.

Corpus delicti offers protection for people accused of crimes, but note that its requirement of corroborating evidence can be easily satisfied. Any evidence pointing to the fact that someone did a crime, even though not necessarily the defendant, can be sufficient proof. The best course of action to protect yourself when accused of a crime is to talk to a lawyer.

The Reality of Wrongful Convictions

Confessions aren’t enough to convict someone, as there’s the reality of false confessions — and wrongful convictions. In other words, there are people who admit to crimes they didn’t do and go to jail for it. This is what motivates Washington criminal defense lawyers like Feldman & Lee PS, Marysville human rights advocates, and civilian communities to initiate innocence projects, which are aimed to free falsely imprisoned people and end miscarriage of justice.

Now, you probably ask, why would someone innocent admit to a crime? As much as it sounds odd, this is very common, and it happens due to many different factors. One of which is the length of the police interrogation. Often, people put under long hours of questioning would just want it to be over, so they confess. Besides, the evidence would prove that they have absolutely nothing to do with the crime.

Another factor is psychological torture by law enforcers. Extremely tired and stressed, people end up admitting to a crime they didn’t do. These false confessions are the reason it’s not enough for people to be convicted by solely telling they did a crime.

If you’re accused of a crime, get in touch with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Know your rights so you can protect yourself from abuse of power and false convictions.