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In: Criminal Defense

New Texas Law Requires Recording for Serious Felony Offense Interviews

The Texas legislature has taken a serious step towards preventing false confessions.

Texas SB 1253 has now been signed into law and will require that any interrogations or interviews for serious felony offenses be audio or video taped. The law requires every custodial interrogation of a person suspected of committing certain felonies be electronically recorded using audiovisual recording, or audio recording if audiovisual is unavailable. This would apply to felony charges, including:

  • Kidnapping or aggravated kidnapping;
  • Murder or capital murder;
  • Trafficking or Continuous trafficking of persons;
  • Sexual or aggravated sexual assault;
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children;
  • Indecency with a child;
  • Improper relationship between educator and student; or
  • Sexual performance of a child.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have laws in place relating to electronically recording custodial interrogations. These rules are put in place in an attempt to prevent false confessions to crimes when detectives or police confine and interview suspects for hours until they have “confessed.” This is a wide-sweeping problem in the U.S. The Innocence Project reports that more than 350 wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence involved problems relating to a false confession.

If may be difficult to see why someone would confess to a crime that he or she did not commit, and this question has often been studied by researchers. Researchers have found several contributing factors that lead to false confessions, such as:

  • Intimidation, real or perceived, by law enforcement during an interrogation;
  • Use of force, real or a perceived threat, by law enforcement during an interrogation;
  • Exhaustion, stress, mental limitations, and other conditions leading to a suspect’s compromised reasoning ability;
  • Deceptive interrogation techniques such as the suggestion that incriminating evidence exists; and
  • Fear of a harsher punishment if a confession is not made.

Recording custodial interrogations is a great step towards preventing any of the above from happening and false confessions being used to punish innocent people.

If you have been accused of a crime, know your rights. Contact board certified criminal law Attorney J. Michael Price II. We give you a no-cost case evaluation to see if you are eligible to take advantage of this new law.