Brief Legal Guide to Law Governing Confessions in Criminal Cases.
The United States Supreme Court has held that in order for a confession to be admissible, it must be free and voluntary; that is, must not be extracted by any sort of threats or violence, nor obtained by any direct or implied promises, however slight, nor by the exertion of any improper influence.
Courts have struggled to articulate a test of voluntariness capable of accommodating the infinite variety of circumstances in which an accused individual is questioned and may ultimately confess. The U.S. Supreme Court clarified by holding that in order for a confession to be involuntary, it must be the product of coercive state action
In order to ask questions about a crime for which a person is under arrest, government agents must advise the person of their constitutional rights (a.k.a. Miranda rights). Additionally, government agents cannot promise leniency in order to obtain a confession.
There are other examples of a lack of voluntariness where government agents use coercive tactics to obtain a confession. For example, they cannot refuse reasonable access to food, water, and other necessities. Obviously, they also cannot use physical force either.
What To Do
If you are subject, or have been subjected, to a criminal investigation, contact a lawyer immediately. There are many nuances and applications of your legal rights during a criminal investigation. Always take it very seriously, and do not go it alone. You need legal advice during the course of the investigation.
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