Email or Call (215) 564-0644

    False Confessions in Pennsylvania Criminal Cases

    False Confessions are Nothing New

    False confessions are nothing new and have resulted in scores of convictions across the U.S. How does this happen? The answer is complex and the phenomena of false confessions is explained by the vast differences in socioeconomic differences.

    People who give false confessions are generally undereducated, mentally ill, poor or otherwise susceptible to persuasion. In addition, average citizens simply cannot understand what it is like to be investigated, arrested and/or interrogated. Together, socioeconomic factors and the intense pressure of interrogation explain how and why false confessions occur.

    Related: Philadelphia PA Drug Cases Thrown Out Due to Corruption in Philadelphia’s Police Department

    The Intense Pressure of Police Interrogation

    Police interrogation is probably one of the most difficult things to explain to a lay person. Movies and television shows do nothing to truly explain just how intense police interrogation really is from a mental and psychological standpoint. In the movies or on TV, police interrogations literally last 2-5 minutes. That’s only a fraction of time compared to how long interrogations actually last, which is hours on end. Try sitting handcuffed to a chair in a small room with menacing-looking officers who repeatedly tell you that you are guilty and that they have enough evidence to get a conviction. At some point, everyone is susceptible to breaking down.

    Police interrogations involve a 2 step process. First, officers will try to convince the suspect or person being interrogated that they have been caught and that there is enough evidence to support a conviction. Officers will then try to convince the individual that the only way out is to confess to the crime.

    How Does Someone Confess to a Crime They Didn’t Commit?

    There are two kinds of false confessions, a false confession in which the suspect actually lies and a false confession given by a suspect who actually believes they are guilty, when they in fact are not guilty.

    False Confessions – The Suspect Lies

    In these types of false confessions, the suspect is basically coerced into confessing. The individual lies in order to literally put an end to the interrogation. Individuals with mental disabilities and those who are mentally ill may be inclined to give false confessions.

    Just this past year in a murder trial in Philadelphia, the defendant confessed to the crimes and was ultimately found not guilty by the jury. The jury ultimately believed that his confession was false. See Commonwealth v. Pinkney.

    False Confessions – The Suspect Believes Their Guilt

    In these types of false confessions, the suspect believes in their own guilt. Basically, the individual believes that they committed the crime but has no memory of it.

    Consider another high profile case of Kevin Fox, a young father who falsely confessed to the rape and murder of his young daughter. Physical evidence later showed that the father had nothing to do with the crime. He spent 8 months in prison after his false confession; he’d been led to believe that he could have committed the crime without remembering/knowing he’d done it. The perpetrator was a neighbor who left physical evidence at the scene, including DNA evidence which clearly exonerated the young father.

    Related: David Nenner Criminal Case Result & Analysis: Acquittal in an Attempted Murder Case in Philadelphia

    Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer – Free Case Reviews

    Please contact our office for a free case review. David Nenner has been representing citizens in Philadelphia for over 20 years. (215) 564-0644

    Disclaimer: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. Our lawyers provide legal advice only after accepting a case. It is imperative that any action taken is done on advice of counsel. Read full disclaimer below.

    David S. Nenner

    "Top Rated Criminal Defense Lawyer"

    Not guilty on 1st Degree MURDER CHARGE (dec. 2022, Pottsville, Pa)

    Mr. Nenner's client faced first degree murder, third degree murder and various other charges. The Commonwealth alleged that Mr. Whitted stabbed and killed a driver after an incident at a red light in West Brunswick Township. Throughout the trial, Mr. Nenner argued...

    MURDER, Att. Murder CHARGES – Negotiated Significantly Lower prison sentence (Feb. 2022, PHILA)

    Mr. Anderson faced murder and attempted murder charges after an incident in Northeast Philadelphia involving the shooting death of Anderson’s sister’s boyfriend and the boyfriend’s roommate who was shot 5 times and survived. The decedent had previously beaten the...


    The Commonwealth alleged that Mr. Shelton shot and seriously injured a male in a bar in North Philadelphia called Circles. There was video of the shooting which happened outside the bar. However, Mr. Nenner presented witnesses who testified that the person in the bar...


    Mr. Nenner's client was charged with multiple crimes (murder, conspiracy, aggravated assault, robbery, etc.) after a shooting death occurred at a gambling house in North Philadelphia. At trial, Mr. Nenner successfully presented a self-defense argument and convinced...


    Mr. Nenner’s client was charged with murder and gun charges in Philadelphia. The client was accused of shooting and killing another male on Arch Street near the 5600 block of Ithan Street in Philadelphia. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty after deliberating...

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – Possession of a Controlled Substance

    In most criminal drug cases in Philadelphia, there are two common charges or offenses: Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver. In addition to these drug charges, there are other drug related charges, such...

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – What is “Possession”

    Page last reviewed and updated: October 20, 2019 One of the most common types of criminal state (PA) cases in Philadelphia is possession of drugs. Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS) and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (PWID) often...

    Pennsylvania Second Degree Murder (AKA: Felony Murder) Law

    Philadelphia criminal lawyer David S. Nenner discusses the current status of second degree murder law in Pennsylvania. This is also known as the felony murder rule. Get info about PA court decisions and the agency theory. Not every case of death during the commission of a felony will result in a second degree murder conviction in PA.

    Philadelphia Murder Cases – Police Investigation Tactics

    Questioning Police Officer Tactics in Philadelphia Murder Cases Within the last 10 years, there have been several murder Philadelphia criminal cases in which the accused individuals were acquitted of the crimes. In these cases, the individuals spent months, if not...

    Murder Charges in Pennsylvania – Murder Law in Pennsylvania

    An explanation of Pennsylvania murder laws including Section 2502. What is murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree and murder in the third degree. Get a summary of the definitions under Pennsylvania criminal law.