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Making a Murderer and the Law: Coerced Confessions

Posted by Steve Karimi | Feb 01, 2016 | 0 Comments

The cases of Wisconsin residents Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey have gained national attention lately from the recently aired documentary series, "Making a Murderer" on Netflix. The series follows the case of the murder of a woman, and Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey being named and placed under suspicion for these crimes. The documentary suggests that police played a heavy role in trying to secure a conviction, and may have planted evidence against Avery. The documentary's examination of the case of Brendan Dassey, on the other hand, focuses largely on his interviews with police investigators.

Dassey, at the time of investigation, was only 16, and legally a minor. According to the documentary, Dassey was interviewed without a parent or lawyer present for at least two sessions. Several people close to Brendan claim he has an intellectual disability. The gravity of this becomes apparent when, during a video recorded police interrogation where Mr. Dassey is confessing to murder, he asks when the interview will be over so that he may return to class to turn in a project. The investigators appear to poke and prod at Brendan to ask for answers to things he clearly has no idea about, so they appear to begin to plant suggestions in his mind, eventually asking him outright if he "shot her in the head" to get him to admit to playing a part in the murder. Brendan appears to be guessing at what the officers want him to say in order to return to class and his life. He was entirely unaware that he was being questioned in a criminal case and this would completely alter the course of his future.

Many who watched this documentary feel Brendan appeared to have been manipulated by these investigators into getting a confession. It is extremely doubtful that he had any idea the consequences of these actions, and on top of this, he had no legal counsel to assist him in his interviews. Juveniles in particular can be susceptible to police intimidation to get a false confession.

Coerced Confessions

So what can happen to you if you are being interviewed by officers? The first thing you should do in any and all instances is immediately request a lawyer and respectfully decline to discuss anything with the police until you have a lawyer present, even if you have not been Mirandized. The more you talk to the police, the more they will try to trick you into saying something incriminating. The Innocence Project shows that 1 out of 4 wrongful convictions are the result of a false or coerced confession. It is much easier to say nothing until you have counsel present than it is to work to get those statements suppressed in court, after all, there is no guarantee of suppression. Police will use tactics like long interrogation times, threats, and intimidation in order to get what they want out of you. Don't let it happen. Remain silent and ask for an attorney.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, contact attorney Steve Karimi today.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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If you were arrested or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Seattle or surrounding areas of Washington State, the Law Offices of Steve Karimi can help. Call 206-660-6200 24 hours a day for a free consultation.

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Named a "rising star" in criminal defense by Washington Law and Politics magazine, Mr. Karimi is a former prosecutor for King County who uses his insight into prosecution strategies to protect his clients' rights in criminal court.