The police threatened me until I confessed to a crime I did not commit; can they use this against me?

If you have been accused of a crime and have not yet retained an experienced criminal defense attorney, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the police’s demands to discuss the alleged charges. When you are unrepresented, police are more likely to employ illegal tactics to get a confession from you. These tactics include using violence, promises, or threats to force a confession. To best protect your rights, it is important to know how police can – and, more importantly, cannot – elicit a confession from you during their investigations.

Any confession made involuntarily cannot be used against you in court. However, not all involuntary confessions fall under this category. A forced or coerced confession has only occurred when the police have threatened to use, or have used, violence against the accused which directly leads to their confession. Some examples of this type of force include:

  • Use of violence, including choking, hitting, or pushing a suspect
  • Threats of violence
  • Promising to lessen the potential charges or jail time in exchange for a confession
  • Withholding food or water from a suspect during interrogations

While this is not an exhaustive list of all the ways the police can force a confession from you, all of them include the necessary elements to qualify as a forced confession: violence or threats to intimidate a suspect into a confession. Police officers can lie during interrogations regarding what evidence they have against you to elicit a confession and this will not qualify as a forced confession. A confession will only be forced if it aligns with some of the examples given above.

Florida has a long history of established case law which supports that the police cannot question you in this manner, and then convict you with that confession. In the 1800s, a slave was accused of arson and the investigators threatened to hang him if he did not confess to the crime. Despite having no evidence against him, the slave admitted to the crimes due to the threat of death during his interrogation. The court found this was a forced confession that could not be used against him. Simon v. State, 5 Fla. 285 (1853). More recently, the Supreme Court of Florida decided a confession was not forced when a police officer was violent with a suspect, then the suspect later confessed to the crimes to a different police officer. Braddy v. State, 111 So.3d 810 (Fla. 2012).

The procedure to have the forced confession suppressed, or thrown out, is called a Motion to Suppress Confession. While this can be proven, it is a difficult standard to meet, especially when you are unrepresented. Since there are many factors that must be considered to determine if police officers have inappropriately forced a confession from a suspect, you must contact a qualified attorney immediately if you feel your rights have been violated during a criminal investigation to have this evidence suppressed.

Client Reviews

I would like thank my attorney Thomas Luka. I knew from the beginning I had the right guy in my corner. While celebrating with family and friends at a Public Park in Seminole County, a fight broke out among various people. Myself, and a good friend, broke up the fight and the instigators left. Six months later, I was wrongly accused as the person who started the fight. The first attorney I hired could not even get a response from the State Attorney handling the case. Someone referred me to Tom and I felt comfortable at his demeanor and reactions.

After conversations with Tom, who knew I would settle for nothing less than a FULL DISMISSAL due to my innocence, I hired him. His firm of Adams and Luka did the due diligence by interviewing witnesses and the police who were on the scene, as well as starting a dialogue with the State Attorney. After gathering statements from witnesses, Tom was able to present a strong argument on my behalf to the State Attorney on why the case should be dismissed. If the State Attorney was not willing to dismiss the case, Tom was ready to take the case to trial.

The result by Thomas Luka: Case Dismissed.

I am 53 years old with a spotless record and glad to keep it that way thanks to the time, effort, hard work, and professionalism of the Adams and Luka and Tom Luka.

Earl from Mesquite
Thomas Luka left a life-long great impression of lawyers. He was always professional, on time, and answered things honestly. From the start and during the 14 months it went on - Tom was very upfront and honest with me about the possible outcomes. The result was better than I had hoped for. Tom really over-delivered. HIGHLY RECCOMEND. Marcela Giorgi
Adams and Luka were very professional and savvy in the courtroom. When you're in court with Mr. Luka you will think you have the best attorney there. I recommend this law firm. Pioneer Tech
Rich Adams is an outstanding criminal attorney. I have had the opportunity to refer several friends and clients to his practice for handling of criminal matters, and on every occasion he has produced an excellent result. Rich practices with attention to detail, a thorough knowledge of the law, and a passion to defend his clients. I will continue to refer clients to Rich Adams, and would strongly recommend him for your legal needs. Brian Pink
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