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Factors that may influence false confessions

| Jan 26, 2016 | Criminal Defense |

“Making a Murderer” is a crime documentary series that has captivated viewers in Texas and around the country. The film features a confession by 16-year-old Brendan Dassey which many people believe was fabricated. According to one expert, the confession portion of the case bears similarity to another case that occurred in Minnesota. Unlike Brendan Dassey, the suspect in the latter case was acquitted.

In both cases, the suspects had low IQs of about 70 or below, which experts say makes false confessions more likely. People who have lower intelligence may be less aware of the consequences of a confession. The suspects in both murder cases who confessed believed they would be released after they told detectives what they wanted to hear.

In both cases, detectives used the Reid Technique during interrogation. Detectives usually only use this technique after they have already concluded that a suspect is guilty based on other parts of the criminal investigation. It is designed to convince a suspect that confessing is the best decision that can be made.

One key difference between the two cases is that the Minnesota defendant had the benefit of expert testimony at his trial regarding the issue of false confessions while Dassey did not. No one knows if an expert may have helped Dassey. His lawyers have filed a writ of habeas corpus in federal court seeking relief based on ineffective assistance of counsel and the coerced confession.

People who have been suspected of committing a violent crime may benefit from seeking the advice of a criminal defense attorney before they ever speak to police. A suspect who is already in custody can request that an attorney be present during police questioning.