Stuck in the interview room after your arrest, as the police pepper your with questions. You barely remember what you said, even as the prosecutor read it back in court. It could have played a big part in your conviction, but it may also play a big part in your appeal.

Coerced convictions are a real issue in the justice system, and that could include your case. In 367 DNA-led exonerations from the Innocence Project, 28% of the initial convictions involved a false confession. This means over one-quarter of people arrested for a crime were unlawfully made to confess to charges by dishonest police interrogation methods. Fessing up under these conditions could mean you’re the victim of a coerced confession.

Applying pressure

Interrogators could have used several coercion tactics to extract a confession that the courts might view as a wrongful conviction:

  • Threats: The courts could see threats of arresting people you know, smearing your name in the newspapers or implying physical harm if you failed to cooperate as unlawful interrogation.
  • Lies: Lying about the possession of evidence that incriminated you, making promises of dropping charges or saying someone else already implicated you could violate the required standards of admittance.
  • Force: Physical abuse, or its implication if you fail to cooperate, can be a strong motivator. It can also be behavior that would force an involuntary confession.
  • Compromised: If you weren’t in your right state of mind during your interrogation, that could lead to a case of improper produce. Exhaustion, stress, substance use or mental limitations could all have led to involuntary confessions.

Understand what the rules are, and it can help you determine if coercion could be responsible for your confession. Knowing what constitutes a violation of your rights could be the first step toward setting things straight.