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Chapter

Cover Concentrate Questions and Answers Evidence

6. Confessions, the defendant’s silence, and improperly obtained evidence  

The Concentrate Questions and Answers series offers the best preparation for tackling exam questions. Each book includes typical questions, bullet-pointed answer plans and suggested answers, author commentary and diagrams and flow charts. This chapter covers three areas: confessions, silence of the accused and judicial discretion to exclude improperly obtained prosecution evidence. It explains how the most persuasive, sometimes only, evidence available to the prosecution is a pre-trial confession. While confessions have long been accepted as evidence of guilt, they have also posed risks of unreliability and violation of individual autonomy. Defendants may not be making a true confession or may have been obtained as a result of pressure. Permissible inferences from a pre-trial failure to respond to questions has the crucial difference that such failure alone cannot found a conviction. English law has previously been unwilling to acknowledge the case for excluding evidence which involves the police acting improperly or even illegally.