CONFESSION, crim. law, evidence. The voluntary declaration made by a person
who has committed a crime or misdemeanor, to another, of the agency or
participation which he had in the same.
2. When made without bias or improper influence, confessions are
admissible in evidence, as the highest and most satisfactory proof: because
it is fairly presumed that no man would make such a confession against
himself, if the facts confessed were not true but they are excluded, if
liable to the of having been unfairly obtained.
3. Confessions should be received with great caution, as they are
liable to many objections. There is danger of error from the misapprehension
of witnesses, the misuse of words, the failure of a party to express his own
meaning, the prisoner being oppressed by his unfortunate situation, and
influenced by hope, fear, and sometimes a worse motive, to male an untrue
confession. See the case of the two Boorns in Greenl. Ev. Sec. 214, note 1;
North American Review, vol. 10, p. 418; 6 Carr. & P. 451; Joy on Confess. s.
14, p. 100; and see 1 Chit. Cr. Law, 85.
4. A confession must be made voluntarily, by the party himself, to
another person. 1. It must be voluntary. A confession, forced from the mind
by the flattery of hope, or the torture of fear, comes in so questionable a
shape, when it is to be considered as evidence of guilt, that Lo credit
ought to be given to it. 1 Leach, 263. This is the principle, but what
amounts to a promise or a threat, is not so easily defined. Vide 2 East, P.
C. 659; 2 Russ. on Cr. 644 4 Carr. & Payne, 387; S. C. 19 Eng. Com. L. Rep.
434; 1 Southard, R. 231 1 Wend. R. 625; 6 Wend. R. 268 5 Halst. R. 163
Mina's Trial, 10; 5 Rogers' Rec. 177 2 Overton, R. 86 1 Hayw. (N. C.) R,
482; 1 Carr. & Marsh. 584. But it must be observed that a confession will be
considered as voluntarily made, although it was made after a promise of
favor or threat of punishment, by a person not in authority, over the
prisoner. If, however, a person having such authority over him be present at
the time, and he express no dissent, evidence of such confession cannot be
given. 8 Car. & Payne, 733.
5. - 2. The confession must be made by the party to be affected by it.
It is evidence only against him. In case of a conspiracy, the acts of one
conspirator are the acts of all, while active in the progress of the
conspiracy, but after it is over, the confession of one as to the part he
and others took in the crime, is not evidence against any but himself. Phil.
Ev. 76, 77; 2 Russ. on Cr. 653.
6. - 3. The confession must be to another person. It may be made to a
private individual, or under examination before a magistrate. The whole of
the confession must be taken, together with whatever conversation took place
at the time of the confession. Roscoe's Ev. N. P. 36; 1 Dall. R. 240 Id.
392; 3 Halst. 27 5 2 Penna. R. 27; 1 Rogers' Rec. 66; 3 Wheeler's C. C.
533; 2 Bailey's R. 569; 5 Rand. R. 701.
7. Confession, in another sense, is where a prisoner being arraigned
for an offence, confesses or admits the crime with which he is charged,
whereupon the plea of guilty is entered. Com Dig. Indictment, K; Id.
Justices, W 3; Arch. Cr. Pl. 1 2 1; Harr. Dig. b. t.; 20 Am. Jur. 68; Joy on
8. Confessions are classed into judicial and extra judicial. Judicial
confessions are those made before a magistrate, or in court, in the due
course of legal proceedings; when made freely by the party, and with a full
and perfect knowledge of their nature and consequences, they are sufficient
to found a conviction. These confessions are such as are authorized by a
statute, as to take a preliminary examination in writing; or they are by
putting in the plea of guilty to an indictment. Extra judicial confessions
are those which are made by the part elsewhere than before a magistrate or
in open court. 1 Greenl. Ev. Sec. 216. See, generally, 3 Bouv. Inst. n.
, auricular confession
, bar mitzvah
, bas mitzvah
, credit line
, high celebration
, lesser litany
, love feast
, mea culpa
, the confessional
, the confessionary