Being interrogated by the police can be a very frightening experience; and this can be especially true when people are young and unsure of what their options are. Even if they have done nothing wrong, young people can be very susceptible to police questioning tactics that are aimed at getting a confession at just about any cost, so it is crucial for our readers to remember that you have the right to speak with an attorney before making any statements to police.
Without legal representation, a person can end up saying something or admitting to something just to please officers or get out of a very tense situation. But this can create an even worse situation. Under the pressure of police questioning, young people can admit to crimes they did not commit and end up paying for that decision with their freedom.
Recently, two New York men were exonerated after they had been wrongfully convicted of three murders in the 1990s. They were both just teenagers when police brought them in for questioning. According to reports, the officers manipulated the men during their interrogation by using threats, physically assault and aggressive manipulation. One of them ultimately confessed that he and the other man were involved in the murders.
More than a decade after they had been behind bars, the man stated that he had falsely confessed. Five years after that, a Brooklyn district attorney re-investigated the case and found DNA evidence at the crime scene that linked the murders to someone else. Both men were recently exonerated.
In all, the men were in prison for 21 years for a crime they did not commit. Sadly, they are not alone in their traumatic experience. According to statistics, dozens of people in New York have been wrongfully sentenced to prison because of police misconduct and overly aggressive prosecution. These tactics have been linked to numerous false confessions, many of which involved juveniles.
This is a strong reminder of how crucial it can be for juveniles who are accused of crimes or are under investigation for criminal misconduct to speak with an attorney. Having legal representation can help people protect their innocence and avoid being forced into a situation in which their rights are violated.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Antonio Yarbough, Sharrif Wilson Exonerated For Triple Murder After Decades In Prison,” Feb. 9, 2014