A suspect may, in unusual instances, falsely confess to a crime. Coercion may be responsible for such false confessions, but a forced or coerced confession may also arise from a suspect’s internalization of an incriminating scenario when the suspect distrusts his memory and follows misleading suggestions of interrogators. Because coercion is not so simple as merely the experience of threat to life and limb, The Forensic Panel employs forensic and investigative diligence to trace the origin and evolution of self-incriminating statements and to identify how and why the suspect came to perceive confession as advantageous, rather than maintaining silence. Only with careful review of all of the evidence can an expert opinion contribute to a trier of fact’s appreciation of whether a false confession occurred.
Experienced Forensic Psychiatrists Providing Forced & Coerced Confession Opinions
In our experience as retained forensic psychiatrists helping to resolve false, forced, or coerced confession questions for courts in a number of jurisdictions, The Forensic Panel has followed a case-specific approach tracing the sequence of the investigation right up to the signing of confessions. Taking into account the questioning itself and the dynamics between interrogator and suspect, and placing these details against a background of understanding a suspect’s specific vulnerabilities, our forensic inquiry probes the context of the decision to confess. Ultimately, such an expert evaluation ascertains what unique factors are relevant to the decision to confess, and how one confesses. When necessary, testing the compliance or suggestibility of a suspect and his memory capabilities, may reveal important limitations and strengths.
Peer Reviewed Examination of Disputed Confessions
Because every criminal case is different, The Forensic Panel’s peer review of false confessions ensures, through the oversight of distinguished expert colleagues, that opinions reflect a review or interview of the most pertinent informants, and that the relevance of an individual suspect’s vulnerabilities to his decision to confess reflects a sensible, objective forensic psychiatry analysis. In so doing, The Forensic Panel has established the expert sophistication to identify when false, coerced, or forced confession claims are consistent with emergent forensic psychological research – and when the scientific and factual foundation for a false confessions claim is absent.