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A confession is defined as a voluntary admission, declaration or acknowledgement (made orally or in writing) by one who has committed a felony or a misdemeanor stating that they committed the crime/offense or participated in its commission.

A confession is considered voluntary when made of the free will and accord of the accused, without fear or threat of harm and without hope or promise of benefit, reward, or immunity.

Confessions generally include details of the crime.

The validity of a confession depends largely on the circumstances surrounding the admission. The presence of coercion before or at the time of a confession generally implies a lack of volition on the confessor’s part and invalidates or harms the legitimacy of the confession.

See e.g.; People v. Palmer 282 A.D.2d 256 (N.Y. App. Div. 2001). 

Related Terms:

  • confess
  • avoidance
  • self-incrimination
  • taking the Fifth
  • criminal law
  • admission of guilt
  • plea
  • Miranda warning
  • Fifth Amendment

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]