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Ch. 7: Interrogations & Confessions

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PSYC 3310
Gwen Jenkins

Ch. 7: Interrogations & Confessions Thursday, June 07, 2012:47 PM Interrogatinga Suspect: The Importanceof a Confession - A confession is the most damaging that can be presented at trial (Kassin, 1997) ○ Fundamental Attribution Error - Quest for a confession can be fierce-- increase clearance rate - Role of forensic psychologist: to convince law-enforcement to examine interrogation procedures Right to Silence - Suspect must be informed of rights-- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s. 7 (legal rights); ○ To retain and instruct counsel, ○ a ○ & right to remain silent - Canadian Charter Warning ○ "I am arresting you for […] It is my duty to inform you that you have the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay… Do you understand? ...You are not obligated to say anything, but anything you do say may be given in evidence." - S. 11 of Charter states that suspect cannot give evidence against self, BUT, suspect does not have right to have counsel present during interrogation - Even if silent, police may continue interrogation - Problem 1: Innocent people assume they wont say anything incriminating - Problem 2: R. v. Hebert, [1990] 2 SCR 151 ○ Court's decision rationale  The scope of the right to silence, does not prohibit police from obtaining confessions in all circumstances, subject to the following limits… Limitsto obtainingconfession 1. Suspect may be interrogated without counsel after counsel has been retained 2. Right to silence/counsel only applies after detention (i.e., police custody) 3. Right does not affect voluntary statements (e.g., to cell mates), but police must not subvert constitutional right not to make statements 4. Distinction must be made between use of undercover agents to observe suspect, & use of undercover agents to actively elicit information - In Herbert's case, right to silence was "violated" False Confessions - Largely assumed that confessions are voluntary and spontaneous but many are negotiated - 20% of confessions are recanted - Three types of false confessions: 1. Voluntary confessions 2. Coerced-compliant 3. Coerced-internalized Voluntary Confessions - Offered willingly - Offered willingly - Motive: e.g., publicity, generalized guilt - Lindbergh kidnapping >200 people confessed ○ Gaston Means  Former FBI agent & conman ○ John Hughes Curtis  Respected boat builder, claimed he'd held baby Lindbergh after kidnapping, later recanted  Confessed because of financial pressure Coerced-CompliantConfessions - Compliance = tendency to agree or obey for instrumental gain (not internalized)-- moderately related to low intelligence - Compliance = inconsistency between internal beliefs & external behavior - Suspect confesses even though they know they're innocent ○ Motive: possibly to escape interrogation, promise of benefit, or avoid threatened punishment - E.g., Darrelle Exner Murder (14-year-old, raped, beaten, strangled) ○ Body found by Kenneth Patton (murderer) - Joel Labadie, Douglas Firemoon, & 17-year-old confessed ○ Firemoon said he "stabbed" her ○ 17-year-old said he "hit" her over the head Why did theyconfess? - Police co
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