False confession

admission of guilt for a crime for which the confessor is not responsible

In law, a confession is when somebody admits that he or she has committed a crime or a felony, which is punishable. In a false confession, the person admits he or she has committed a crime or a felony, but this is not true. False confessions occur regularly. In general, there are three reasons, why they occur:

  1. Certain people want to give a false confession. They do this for different reasons. In most cases, they want to protect someone who is close to them. There are also some mental conditions that can cause false confessions, for example Histrionic personality disorder. Many legal systems have rules, that people do not need to testify, if this testimony could harm close relatives. This type of false confession is called voluntary false confession.
  2. Sometimes people are forced ot give a false confession. This is usually done by special interrogation methods, or even torture. In such situations, people usually confess to reduce stress, or because they get a reward. Officially such confessions are called coerced-compliant confessions
  3. There are certain interrogation techniques that can make people believe that they guilty, even though they are innocent. In legal terminology, this is called coerced-internalized confessions
In Switzerland, interrogation rooms look like this one.