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Confessions and the Constitution: The Remedy for Violating Constitutional Safeguards

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 79 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2010 Pages: 23-32
Carl A. Benoit, J.D.
Date Published
April 2010
10 pages
This article explores the problems inherent in obtaining a confession in violation of constitutional safeguards.
Over the past several years, the United States Supreme Court has decided three cases that involved confessions that were obtained in violation of constitutional safeguards. In each of these cases, the Court provided guidance to law enforcement on different remedies imposed by the Constitution for violations of these safeguards. This article examines three amendments to the United States Constitution, the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments, that provide safeguards to defendants making confessions and the remedies available to law enforcement when these safeguards are violated. The article first examines the fourth amendment and its remedy, known as the suppression remedy. This is followed by a discussion of the fifth amendment and the use of Miranda procedures to protect defendants. Finally, the article discusses the sixth amendment and a defendants' right to counsel at certain stages of the criminal justice proceedings. The author concludes that confessions obtained in violation of constitutional safeguards can seriously impede law enforcement efforts to successfully prosecute criminals, and that investigators should make every effort to ensure that confessions are obtained in compliance with the Constitution. 55 endnotes