Interrogations and Confessions

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Fifth Amendment

The Fifth Amendment is an amendment that protects persons against any disclosures which the witness reasonably believes could be used in a criminal prosecution or could lead to other evidence that might be used against them. The right to be free from self-incrimination was "established by the U.S. Supreme Court and has expanded the Fifth Amendment to apply not only to criminal proceedings and pretrial proceedings in criminal matters, but also to include police-station interrogations, but also to "any other proceeding, civil or criminal, formal or informal, where his answers might incriminate him in future criminal proceedings" (Lithwick). Understanding the Fifth Amendment and who it protects, can be the ultimate factor to any case. How does one take actions that meet legal standards in the supervision involving interrogations and confessions? Interrogations defined by US Legal definitions state that: "Interrogation is, in criminal law, the process of questions asked by police to a person arrested or suspected to seek answers to a crime. Such person is entitled to be informed of his rights, including right to have counsel present, and the consequences of his answers. If the police fail or neglect to give these warnings, the questions and answers are not admissible in evidence at the trial or hearing of the arrested person". There are two types of interrogations custodial and noncustodial. Custodial Interrogation happens when a person is in "custody". According to Worrall (2009) " a person under the custodial situations are either; arrested, have excessively lengthy confrontation, are not free to leave, are involved in involuntary encounters, and are held in a private place such as a police station"(p.243). The other type of Interrogation is noncustodial. During noncustodial situations, a person is free to leave, the encounter is voluntary, and it is in a public place where movement is not restricted"


Often time's people hear rights being read when somebody is arrested, like that on the television show cops. Some people are unaware if they are being interrogated or if they are undergoing the process of general questioning. The difference between the two pointed out by Worrall (2009) is that, Interrogations, "are guilt seeking questions, and conversations intended to elicit a response "(243). General Questioning is "information gathering questions, and conversation not to elicit a response" (243). When a person is in custody, this does not mean that their Miranda rights have to be read. Rights should only be read when a person is about to be interrogated. Although interrogations are protected under the Fifth Amendment, this does not mean that a person who speaks on their own behalf is guarded under the Fifth Amendment rule. A person who tells on themselves, or engages in conversation with an officer is known as the confessor. Confession defined by stated that it is "the statement of one charged with a crime that he/she committed the crime." As noted elsewhere, one who confesses there crime is the confessor. Many times the confessor is tricked or psychologically manipulated into telling law enforcement officers what they want to hear, whether it is the truth or not. In order for a confession to be admissible "it must be voluntarily after the person was informed of his or her right to remain silent and right to consult an attorney" (Confessions, 2009). Even though psychological pressure is allowed, it is not okay to hold a person for long hours and offer them false promises, or harm them in anyway. If any of these acts have been committed, information obtain is then inadmissible, and cannot be used for trial against the confessor. Sometimes, people just give into law enforcement, because they feel as though their truth is not good enough for the officers, thus allowing the confessor to give in and begin to believe that the acts the police claim they have committed are true. In an example given Gudjonsson (2004) stated that a women realized the police had total control of a situation she was in, and to back them off she confessed, while in custody, she began to believe she committed the acts and it even went as far as if she was struggling from amnesia even though she didn't commit the act.


Interrogations and confessions are both protected under the Fifth Amendment, allowing for persons to protect themselves from any type of self incrimination. When in play, Miranda is a highlight case for both actions; it is the ring leader as to what should be done when a person is being interrogated or about to confess. With hints of information needed by law enforcement whether that is if a person is in custody, every person needs to be read their Miranda rights. The Supreme Court is the ultimate challenger and they are there to make sure that we are protected from the amendments set in place. An interrogation is either custodial or noncustodial, it has its flaws, but once a person is placed under custodial Interrogation he/she is not allowed to leave and noncustodial is vice versa. Confessions, is when a person confesses up to a crime that he/she either committed or falsely claimed that they committed the crime. How does one take actions that meet legal standards in the supervision involving interrogations and confessions? The lines between interrogations, and confessions, are a thin line. I can see how a person can believe that they are receiving both services when in actuality they are only receiving one, and they are voluntarily confessing to what happened. In either situation it is very important that law enforcement reads the Miranda right or hand them to the person they are interviewing on paper. I think that without Miranda, agencies can get away with a lot, and would corrupt the system making them untrustworthy of any information that falls in their hands. Although many citizens know of the Fifth Amendment, I think it is a necessity for those who are unaware of their rights. The only way to make legal proceedings easier if one understood their rights.