Many California residents may have heard about the case of Brendan Dassey from watching the Netflix series "Making a Murderer." Dassey, then 16 years old, confessed to murdering a photographer in 2005. He was ultimately convicted. However, a Beloit College psychology professor noted that there were certain parallels to other cases he had been involved in that dealt with false confessions.
False confessions are not uncommon. In many cases, people who have been accused of serious crimes often believe that if they tell the authorities what they want to hear, they will be allowed to go back to their lives as normal. Following his confession, Dassey asked if could return to school so he could make his class, indicating that he did not fully understand the situation. Dassey was also vulnerable as he did not have assistance from an attorney.
Further, the interrogation technique that was used on Dassey is known to cause individuals who were involved in the incident to confess. Known as the Reid Technique, it often involves persistent questioning, with authorities minimizing just how serious the situation is. The interrogations often go four to five hours per session, which can result in causing the person to become helpless and confurs. When they do confess, accused people often explain how they committed the crime by parroting facts that the authorities fed them during the interrogations.
People who have been accused of a serious crime may not fully understand the seriousness of their situations. If they falsely confess under duress or because they did not have proper legal representation, a criminal defense attorney may argue that their rights were violated, potentially resulting in a dismissal of the charges.