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False confession rate is higher among teens charged with crimes

False confessions pose a serious impediment to justice. When individuals falsely confess to committing crimes, there is usually a frustrating or unacceptable reason behind the confession. Sometimes individuals confess falsely in order to protect another person or to fulfill some other personal motive. However, others confess falsely due to police or prosecutorial overstepping, coercion and attempts to inspire fear in an accused person.

According to the Wall Street Journal, minors are far more likely to falsely confess to crimes than adults are. A new wrongful conviction database indicates that while 11 percent of wrongfully convicted adults who were later exonerated originally falsely confessed to their crimes, a staggering 38 percent of exonerated teens falsely confessed to their crimes.

An expert on this issue who is employed by the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law recently explained why this trend is so prevalent. He noted that, “Juveniles are particularly vulnerable: they tend to impulsive, they tend to be more focused on short-term gratification like 'If I confess can I go home?' They tend to be more deferential to authority; that might not seem like it's the case in the real world, but in the interrogation room it is."

When a teen is convicted of wrongdoing and becomes the recipient of a juvenile criminal record, his or her life can be forever changed as a result. This is why it is so critical that false confessions are uttered at a minimum rate. If your teen has been charged with criminal wrongdoing, please contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Strong advocacy can help to ensure that your teen does not utter a false confession or that your teen is not convicted as a result of one.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "False Confessions Dog Teens," Zusha Elinson, Sep. 8. 2013

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