Offers of Leniency: Will a Confession Decrease Your Charges?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

Criminal Defense Attorney Discusses Confessions and their Effect in New Mexico Courts

woman in hancuffs writing confessionDuring an interrogation, officers use one common tactic to elicit a confession: An offer of leniency. They might tell you that they can lower your charges if you confess. However, there is a kicker – your confession must be voluntary. So, it is important that you understand your rights, and what might happen if you do confess in hopes of lesser charges.

Psychological Pressure Equates to Involuntary Confessions

It is your right not to be pressured into a confession. Police officers using psychological persuasion – including an offer of lesser charges – is considered pressuring you. That is why statements produced through the promise of leniency are disregarded by the courts. So, your confession would likely be inadmissible.

However, your statement must be the product of an offer of compromise, whether expressed or implied. Offers that could result in an inadmissible confession include:

  • The promise of immunity;
  • The guarantee of a reduced sentence; or
  • An offer to dismiss the charges upon confession.

The Factor of Immunity in Exchange for Testimony

Often, defendants confuse confessions in interrogations with the exchange of immunity or reduced charges to testify. These are two different things. While you have the right to remain silent, if you choose to speak with an attorney and answer his or her questions, that is your prerogative. A prosecutor can also override your Fifth Amendment rights by offering immunity from prosecution in exchange for your testimony.

The Two Types of Immunity from Prosecution

  1. Transactional Immunity – Transactional immunity is a very broad kind of immunity. It is so broad that it is referred to as “blanket” immunity. Any crime you confess to, including ones unrelated to the case, cannot be used against you.
  2. “Use and Derivative Use” Immunity – Most prosecutors opt for this form of immunity because it is narrower and does not let a defendant get away with anything. The prosecution cannot, however, use your statements or any evidence derived from those declarations in a prosecution against you. However, it does not prevent them from gathering additional evidence and using it against you later. So, theoretically, you could still face criminal charges.

Speak With an Attorney Before Accepting Any Deals

Whether you are being interrogated, you’re offered a deal, or you are being presented with an offer of immunity, it is imperative that you speak with a criminal attorney. A criminal defense attorney from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices will review prosecution-offered bargains and ensure that they are in your favor. Your defense lawyer will protect your rights and ensure that you do not self-incriminate or get coerced into a confession. Call an attorney now for a free case evaluation at 505-375-4671 or ask us a legal question online.