Both admissions and confessions are used by lawyers as formidable sources of evidence given the weight they can carry in the minds of jurors. Though both typically occur during a police investigation, usually as a result of interrogation, these terms are not interchangeable as they each have very different legal ramifications.
What's an Admission?
Many police interrogations result in an admission rather than a confession. For example, a suspect in a case of auto theft might make a statement saying: “I was in the car—but I didn’t know it was stolen.”
Because the suspect has acknowledged the fact that he was in the car, this would be considered an “admission.” The key principal to bear in mind is that an admission does not accept personal responsibility for committing a crime. It is simply an acknowledgement of a statement or fact.
What's a Confession?
A confession is a fully corroborated statement during which a suspect accepts personal responsibility for committing a crime. In contrast to admission, a confession admits or acknowledges all of the facts required for the conviction of a particular crime.
“Yes, I killed my husband. But he deserved it because he was unfaithful…” is good example of a confession, given that the crime in question is murder and the suspect’s statement is more than adequate to justify a formal charge to that effect.
The Big Differences Between Admissions and Confessions
Conversely, a mere admission would acknowledge only certain facts which are generally not sufficient on their own to satisfy all of the elements of the offense.
An admission can still be used as evidence in a criminal case, even though it's only applied to matters of fact that don't involve criminal intent. It's important that you know an admission given during a statement or deposition cannot be retracted at a later time.
You can attempt to retract a confession, though. This might occur in a situation where a defendant maintains that their statement of confession was coerced, or forced by law enforcement while under interrogation.
If you’re being questioned in connection with a crime, it’s important to consult a knowledgeable and experienced attorney before making any statements -- even if you're innocent.
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