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Florida Lawmakers Seek To Prevent Forced Confessions

The Florida Innocence Commission wants statewide guidelines in place for police interrogations in order to help prevent coerced confessions and wrongful convictions. These guidelines would include recording interrogations. As of now, not all police agencies have policies on recording interrogations.

If police agencies are required to record interrogation sessions, it may create safeguards that would prevent police from using threats or intimidation or otherwise improper tactics when trying to get a suspect to speak.

A confession is a powerful piece of evidence that the State will use against you at trial. However, police must be careful not to force a coerce a confession out of somebody. If you read my blog post entitled, "Why Do People Confess?" you will learn that people will often tell the police what they want to hear simply to get the process over with.

If I can offer one piece of advice to anybody charged with a crime or under investigation for a crime: DO NOT CONFESS!

You have a fundamental constitutional right not to incriminate yourself. This right, if exercised, cannot be used against you. In other words, should your case proceed to trial, no jury will ever hear that you chose not to speak with police. It is reversible error for such information to fall into the jury's hands.

If you are under investigation and the police wish to speak with you, be polite about asserting your rights, but do not waver. Tell the interviewing officer that you do not wish to speak with police and would like to consult a criminal defense attorney.

Eric Matheny can be reached at (305) 777-3855. Attorney Eric Matheny represents clients charged with criminal offenses in Miami-Dade and Broward.