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Cover Evidence Concentrate

3. Confessions, and the defendant’s pre-trial silence  

This chapter focuses on confessions and on the defendant’s pre-trial silence. It explains how a defendant may be convicted on the evidence of a confession alone. It analyses the definition of a confession as specified in s82(1) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), and how a confession proffered by the prosecution or by a co-defendant may be excluded by rule under PACE. The chapter also considers the preservation of the common law discretion to exclude confession evidence as well as the procedure for police interrogation of suspects under PACE. It examines recent case law on the significance of lack of access to legal advice of a suspect under interrogation. It concludes with an examination of how the jury at trial may draw an inference of guilt under ss34, 36, and 37 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (CJPO), sections which have eroded the right to silence. The influence of the Strasbourg jurisprudence in this area is outlined.