02 January 2013


Little has changed over the centuries as to proof of a crime committed. The percentage of criminal defendants convicted of the crime charged is most often the result of a confession. I have often wondered why people who have committed crimes, and also those who have not, readily confess their involvement. It shows a distinct lack of character. Some would argue that criminals have poor character and we should expect nothing more than immediate capitulation. Embezzlement is an interesting example. Those who embezzle from their employer will be caught eventually. It is a certainty. Those who might escape notice are those who embezzle a little, and then quit; but this happens only rarely. Most embezzlement begins small, little amounts here and there and then over time increases until it is impossible to cover the theft. Almost without exception the embezzler admits to the crime upon confrontation. Those who use illegal drugs are another example. Time and time again, a person's vehicle will be stopped by law enforcement and upon the question of whether they have anything illegal in their vehicle, the person in the vehicle immediately blurts out that he has drugs either on his person or in the car. Or with a knock on the door of a residence, the same question is asked with the same response. It would almost seem that the person using or having possession of the illegal substances invites criminal charges to be filed. Without this immediate acquiescence many fewer convictions would result. Innumerable times defense counsel is confronted with a defendant who has confessed his sins. There is little help for him. Without the confession, the defendant would normally have some sort of defense to the charge, i.e. "I didn't know it was there.", "It was the other guy's dope.". But no, the response might as well be, "Take me to jail, I did it." I am sure there has been much written on this subject. Possibly forensic psychologists have the answer. More than likely it is a combination of fear, atonement, and stupidity. In the land of atonement, the proliferation of 12 step movements, confessing one's sins and asking forgiveness for past transgressions has become the norm. "Confession is good for the soul" has morphed from a religious practice to a recovery complex. Fear is easy to understand, but misplaced. One has more to fear by confessing than by not confessing and maybe this is where stupidity comes in. Of the three factors recognizable in confessions, stupidity is not correctable. One can not be trained, educated, or induced in any manner, not to be stupid. Without stupidity we criminal defense attorneys might starve so I guess we shouldn't complain of it.