False Confessions and the Norfolk Four Case Essay

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``In criminal law, confession evidence is a prosecutor’s most potent weapon’’ (Kassin, 1997)—“the ‘queen of proofs’ in the law” (Brooks, 2000). Regardless of when in the legal process they occur, statements of confession often provide the most incriminating form of evidence and have been shown to significantly increase the rate of conviction. Legal scholars even argue that a defendant’s confession may be the sole piece of evidence considered during a trial and often guides jurors’ perception of the case (McCormick, 1972). The admission of a false confession can be the deciding point between a suspect’s freedom and their death sentence. To this end, research and analysis of the false confessions-filled Norfolk Four case reveals the…show more content…
Renegotiation of reality occurs when, by virtue of the institutionalized process of police interrogations, the suspect perceives that his initial reality holds no value to the interrogator or to the outcome of the interrogation, when he lacks agency to defend his reality, and when there is no other option. In this paper, I will illustrate how each of these factors facilitates false confessions and will use the Norfolk Four case as my vehicle for exploration and analysis. Determining a false confession proves difficult due to the multitude of dimensions involved. According to Kassin and Wrightsman’s (1985) survey of the literature, there are three main types of false confessions—voluntary, coerced-compliant, and coerced-internalized. Unlike coerced false confessions, voluntary false confessions arise as a result of someone willingly turning themselves into the police with an account of their crime (McCann, 1998). Voluntary false confessions can result from multiple motives, including an internalized need for punishment or to save someone else’s face. In contrast, coerced false confessions directly result from police interrogations. While coerced-compliant confessions are made to avoid interrogation, escape the stressful situation, or achieve some other reward, coerced-internalized confessions emerge when a suspects begins to
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