Disclaimer: I’m not a legal advisor. Seek appropriate counsel elsewhere. These are just my personal observations!
Criminal justice systems intrigue me. I can’t call it a hobby or something that I’m greatly passionate about, but oftentimes I’ve found myself sitting for many hours, watching lengthy documentaries, interrogation and deposition videos, or reading cases online.
What really made me wonder how often miscarriage of justice occurs, was the first season of Making a Murderer which aired in 2015 on Netflix. I don’t remember the exact details and order of its events, but a heinous crime took place where a young girl lost her life and her body was disposed.
After the disappearance of the victim, what follows is a series of events that are questionable and can be considered gross mishandling of the case by law enforcement and prosecution. Wrongful past convictions, dismissing exonerating evidence, planting convicting evidence, coerced confessions, sexual harassment scandals and more! I’d recommend watching the series, although be warned that it most likely is not representing both sides fairly.
Tunnel vision and “urge to convict” rather than serve justice, appear to be a key factor in cases like this. In the US, even though the Miranda warning is given to suspects, they seem to acknowledge it without actually understanding it, like it’s an Apple service agreement.
In approximately 25% of the wrongful convictions overturned with DNA evidence, defendants made false confessions, admissions or statements to law enforcement officials.
In Australia, individuals are only required* to provide their name and address to the police. State governments (like Victoria and New South Wales) as well as the federal government have laws that prevent adverse inference based on evidence that a person failed or refused to answer the questions of authorities. Although, in case of New South Wales such inference may be drawn in certain circumstances (Evidence Act 1995 sec 89A).
In any case, nothing good can come out of talking to law enforcement without an attorney. Even if you are not a suspect. Not even a witness! Even if you have alibies or are the most innocent person in the universe. If you can spare some time and watch (at least the first 25 minutes of) the talk below, you will understand some of the most common ways that you will likely be incriminating yourself.
Some other links that may interest you:
- Staircase on Netflix
- How to Fix a Drug Scandal on Netflix
- The Confessions Tapes on Netflix
- JCS - Criminal Psychology on YouTube