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Confessions And Identification Evidence Notes

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A more recent version of these Confessions And Identification Evidence notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.

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Supervision 8 - Confessions and Expert Evidence Confessions
? 'Confession' 'includes any statement wholly or partly adverse to the person who made it, whether made to a person in authority or not and whether made in words or otherwise' (PACE, s.82(1)). o Retracted guilty pleas can be admitted (Johnson). o Includes 'mixed statements' (contains both inculpatory and self-serving elements).
? Judge should direct that 'the incriminating parts are likely to be true, whereas the excuses do not have the same weight' (Sharp).
? Cannot admit only inculpatory part (Aziz).
? At common law, provided that the accused and his accuser were on 'even terms' at the time (Chandler) and, provided that, an accusation might reasonably have been expected to have elicited a response from the defendant, adverse inferences can be drawn from silence. Still authoritative. o Munday suggests asking simply whether a response could reasonably have been expected.
? Non-inculpatory / neutral statements cannot be seen as confessions (Hasan). o Subsequent events cannot render a neutral statement a confession.
? Convictions based solely on confession (Julie).
? CONFESISONS ARE EXCEPTION TO HEARSAY RULE, SO ADMISSIBLE THROUGH S.114(1)(a).
? Confessions are prima facie excluded unless prosecution can prove beyond reasonable doubt the requirements in s.76(2).
? Pattenden worried about false confessions. o General corroborative requirement in other jurisdictions. o Suggests modified Turnbull direction when conviction based substantially on a disputed or retracted confession. o Also wants to allow expert evidence on effect of interrogation. Conditions of admissibility
? A confession may be admitted only 'in so far as it is relevant to any matter in issue in the proceedings and is not excluded by the court in pursuance of this section' (PACE, s.76(1)).
? It will normally be for the defence to contest the admissibility of a confession. o The court may also raise the issue of its own motion (s.76(3)).
? Court must exclude a confession if prosecution fails to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it has not been obtained either (s.76(2)): a) By oppression of the defendant.
? The enquiry into whether the Crown can show that the confession was not obtained by forbidden means is conducted as a 'trial within a trial' (voir dire).
? Must be held whenever there are allegations that reasonably require investigation (e.g. Dhorajiwala).

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