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Confessions in Federal Court

A confession is a statement that a person accused of a crime makes outside of the courtroom. It must be a voluntary statement in which you acknowledge that you committed a crime or were the accessory to a crime. It must be understood that there is no way that your conduct would have been deemed to be legal and that your actions could not be defended.

How Does the Court Determine Voluntariness?

In order for a confession to be admitted into evidence, the trial judge must determine that the suspect voluntarily provided it. In determining the voluntariness of the confession, the trial judge considers the following:

  • When did the suspect make the confession? Was it after he or she was arrested, or was it before he or she was arraigned?
  • Did the suspect understand the nature of the offense he or she was suspected of committing at the moment that he or she decided to confess?
  • Was the suspect aware that he or she was not obligated to make any statements and that the statements that he or she freely made could be used against him or her?
  • Was the suspect advised that he or she had the right to obtain an attorney before he or she answered any questions?
  • Did the suspect have an attorney when he or she was being questioned or confessing to the crime?

What Is the Basic Rule?

The Fifth Amendment of The Constitution gives you the right not to incriminate yourself. Therefore, no law enforcement official can force you to confess to any crime. It’s the reason that you cannot be forced to talk to the district attorney in his or her office. It is also the reason that you will not be forced to testify at your trial. If FBI agents arrive at your home early in the morning, you are not obligated to answer any questions or make any confessions at that time.

Law enforcement officers can ask you questions, and you may answer those questions. The time when you are not obligated to answer questions is when the answer would be a confession to a crime or when the answer would incriminate you. For example, a law enforcement officer might have questions for you about another person’s involvement in a crime. You could answer these questions because the answers would only incriminate another person, but the time when you wouldn’t want to answer these questions is when you were an accessory to the crime. Then, you wouldn’t be obligated to answer these questions because you would be incriminating yourself if you did.

The government can encourage you to make a confession, but it must arrange a plea agreement that protects you. The plea agreement would state that you would be free to testify in a case that incriminates you, but you would not be prosecuted. In this instance, you would receive “immunity” for your testimony, but you would have to make sure that the law enforcement officer offers you an immunity deal in writing before you make the confession.

What Is a Miranda Warning?

If you are in the custody of a law enforcement official, he or she must give you a “Miranda Warning.” The Miranda Warning makes it so that the prosecution may present to the court what was said during the interrogation. If you did not receive a Miranda Warning before you confessed, the confession will not be admissible in court. You may have confessed to a crime after you received the Miranda Warning. If so, your confession would be admissible in court.

What Is the Motion to Suppress?

If law enforcement officials cause you to feel pressured to confess to a crime, your criminal defense attorney can file a Motion to Suppress the confession. The belief is that law enforcement officials broke the law during the interrogation, so what you said at that time should not be used against you in your court case. The government attorney may decide to drop the charges against you because he or she cannot tell the jury that you confessed to the crime.

Hire a Criminal Defense Law Firm…

If you confessed to a crime and you believe that it wasn’t legal, you must contact a criminal defense attorney today.


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"Spodek Law Group have offered me excellent support and advice thru a very difficult time. I feel I've dealt with someone who truly cares and wants the best outcome for you and yours. I'm extremely grateful for all the help Spodek Law Group has offered me. I can't recommend them..."

David Bruce

"Spodek Law Group was incredibly professional and has given me the best advice I could wish for. They had been helpful and empathetic to my stressful situation. Would highly recommend Spodek Law Group to anyone I meet."

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"Best service I ever had. Todd is absolutely class personified. You are in the safest hands with spodek. They have their clients interest in mind."

Francis Anim
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