Discretionary Exclusion of Confessions and Other Evidence—General Principles

Peter Mirfield

in Silence, Confessions and Improperly Obtained Evidence

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780198262695
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682391 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Monographs on Criminal Law and Justice

Discretionary Exclusion of Confessions and Other Evidence—General Principles

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Though the authority on the point is surprisingly sparse, there can be no doubt at all that it was and is a general rule of the common law that the admissibility in law of evidence is not affected by the way in which it was obtained. The special rule of inadmissibility for confessions in terms (at common law) of threats, promises, and oppression was an exception to that general rule. In effect, the common law regarded as paramount the reliability principle, so far as non-confession evidence was concerned, taking no account of any need to discipline the police or to protect suspects. Towards the end of the last century, courts began to assert a power to exclude confessions and admissions on the basis that they had been obtained by questioning the accused while in custody. There is now, in the modern law, both an unfairness and an unreliability head of the exclusionary discretion for confessions.

Keywords: common law; admissibility; confessions; oppression; reliability principle; admissions; unfairness; unreliability; exclusionary discretion

Chapter.  25416 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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