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A confession or admission is when the accused or the defendant makes a statement which is adverse to the finding about their guilt or civil liability. Confession is a term usually used in criminal cases and admission generally is used in civil cases. They may be express or implied and can be made by words or conduct.

Exception to the hearsay rule Edit

As a confession or admission is an out-of-court statement it is technically hearsay. Therefore it is an exception to the hearsay rule. (see HEARSAY AND ITS EXCEPTIONS)

  • A confession must be made voluntarily.
  • At common law a reaction by the party to statements made in their presence may allow a negative inference to be drawn.
  • Earlier statements that seem to excuse the person from the charge but by other evidence is shown to be untruthful can be defined as an admission or confession.
  • It is a question for the jury as to whether an admission/confession has been made and whether it is reliable.
  • If there has been an admission/confession then it is for the judge to decide whether it is admissible. This decision takes place without the jury.
  • Admissions/confessions have to be based on personal observations.
  • Only statements which go against the interests of the party are admitted as confessions and they can only be used against the party who made them.
  • In a criminal trial the confession must be made voluntarily and by free choice, that is without duress, intimidation, importunity or undue pressure.

Other considerations Edit

Fairness: Admissions/ confessions will not be allowed where to do so would cause unfairness. Unfairness may arise because there would be an unacceptable risk of a wrongful conviction or because of procedural impropriety.

Public policy: There is a need to balance the interest of public in getting reliable information and the need to apprehend criminals with the procedural justice and interests of the individual.

Criminal investigations: standards of propriety The court can disallow evidence if there has been impropriety in police conduct in investigating the matter. It is common to have statutes regulating procedures used by police in investigating crimes.