Eastern Iowa Criminal Defense Attorneys
Back to Top
Eastern Iowa Trial Attorneys

Backed by extensive experience & expertise in handling cases just like yours. Speak with our legal team now.

False Confessions: A Serious Threat In Iowa Criminal Cases

Research suggests that false confessions, along with invented personal memories of alleged crimes, may contribute to many wrongful convictions.

Many people in Iowa City imagine that, if they were wrongly accused of criminal activity, they would stubbornly defend their innocence. However, in reality, this is not always the case. It's not uncommon for wrongly accused people to incriminate themselves or give false confessions, even when they face serious charges, such as sexual assault or homicide. This is a risk that should be taken into account during any criminal case.

Causes of false confessions

The Innocence Project explains that false confessions play a role in many convictions that are later overturned based on DNA evidence. In fact, more than one-quarter of people who were exonerated on this basis originally gave false statements or made incriminating statements.

The reasons that people give false confessions can be varied. The Innocence Project identifies the following common underlying factors:

  • Impairment - people who are intoxicated, fatigued or mentally disabled are at greater risk for giving false confessions.
  • Fear or duress - some people confess out of fear of real or threatened violence, criminal sanctions or other consequences.
  • Lack of understanding - people who do not adequately understand the relevant laws or the situation may also give false confessions.

Alarmingly, new research suggests that some people who give false confessions may not even realize they are doing so. Instead, interrogation tactics may put people at risk for developing highly convincing false memories.

Fabricated memories of crimes

According to The Toronto Star, during a recent study, researchers recruited 70 students and interviewed them about past life events. Prior to the interviews, the researchers spoke with each participant's caretaker about a vivid event that occurred during the participant's adolescence. Equipped with these real-life details, the researchers asked participants to describe this event and a second, fabricated event.

Researchers mentioned only that the second event involved assault or brought the participants into contact with law enforcement authorities. The researchers told the participants that they would remember the event if they really tried. The researchers also suggested that participants use measures such as visualization to help them "remember."

Troublingly, after three interviews that lasted less than an hour each, over 70 percent of the participants "remembered" committing crimes. Many invented detailed memories that caused them to feel emotions such as guilt. Some even maintained that their memories were real after researchers explained that the "crime" never happened.

Prevalence of false confessions

These results are troubling, especially since the methods used in the study were very different from police interrogation tactics. The participants were not detained or questioned at length, and they were not forcefully accused of committing crimes. In the fact of such actions, it's possible that the risk of false memories and confessions may be even higher.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 12 people have been exonerated of criminal charges in Iowa since 1992. One of those individuals was convicted on the basis of a false confession as well as official misconduct. Still, the data from the Innocence Project suggests that the number of people wrongly imprisoned in Iowa due to false confessions may be much higher.

Seek legal help

These findings underscore why it is important for people facing criminal charges to seek legal advice. Without assistance, people who have been accused of crimes may be at risk for wrongly incriminating themselves or giving false confessions. An attorney may be able to help the criminally accused understand other options for addressing the charges that they face.

  • The Iowa State Bar Association
  • DUI Defense Law
  • AAJ
  • Iowa Association of Justice

Keegan, Tindal, & Jaeger 

Put Over 50 Years of Combined Trial Experience On Your Side 
  • J. Dean Keegan
  • Eric D. Tindal
  • Andrea D. Jaeger
  • J. Dean Keegan J. Dean Keegan


    Decades of Award-Winning Legal Service J. Dean Keegan was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa. After high school, Dean served ...
    J. Dean  Keegan Photo
  • Eric D. Tindal Eric D. Tindal


    Highly Rated Criminal Defense in Iowa City Eric D. Tindal, attorney at Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger, graduated from the University ...
    Eric D. Tindal Photo
  • Andrea D. Jaeger Andrea D. Jaeger


    Experienced Criminal Defense in the Iowa and Illinois Quad Cities Andrea D. Jaeger practices in the areas of white collar ...
    Andrea D. Jaeger Photo

See What Our Clients Have to say

  • I am glad he was there to get my head out of the guillotine when I needed him and keep my record clean.

    “I was stopped for an OWI. Dean took things as far as he could with the appeals process, finding every way possible to keep me driving in the meantime (which I needed to do for my job). Dean argued the ...”

    - Ryan
  • My family and friends appreciate all you have done. Thank you.

    “Thank you, Andrea and Eric. You both did a great job and got me the best results possible in my situation. I would recommend your service to any in need of counsel and I am still amazed in the way ...”

    - Michael
  • Andrea Jaeger is the best defense attorney in the world.

    “Andrea Jaeger is the best defense attorney in the world. She gets the job done for her clients. She goes hard for the best results. She would always be my first choice of defense. She is very ...”

    - Orlando
  • I am thankful for her representation.

    “I was very fortunate to have been represented by Andrea Jaeger. She is knowledgeable, reliable, and professional. Her expertise was more than what I could have asked for and I am grateful to have had ...”

    - Jack
  • Our family feels very fortunate to have had Andrea Jaeger as our advocate.

    “We became acquainted with Andrea Jaeger when she was assigned to our son's federal case several years ago. Certainly, when someone is court-appointed on your behalf, you simply never know what kind of ...”

    - David and Jan

SUCCESSFUL results for our clients

Protecting Your Freedom & Rights
  • Operating While Intoxicated Charges Dismissed

    Linn County OWCR133760. Attorney Eric Tindal's client was arrested for Operating While Intoxicated. Mr. Tindal had all charges dismissed following a successful suppression hearing regarding the grounds for the stop.

  • Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana and Methamphetamine Charges Dismissed

    Washington Count FECR5351. Attorney Tindal and Attorney Clemens Erdahl successfully argued that evidence of drug manufacture was obtained in violation of the Constitution. All charges were dismissed.

  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Charges Dismissed

    Iowa County FECR010358. Attorney Tindal was able to show the Court that his client was detained in violation of his Constitutional rights and that the K9 utilized in the search was unreliable. Following hearing all charges were dismissed.

  • Second Degree Sexual Abuse and Other Charges Acquittal at Trial

    Johnson County FECR089277. The Defendant was charged with Second Degree Sexual Abuse and other charges. Following a one-week trial by Mr. Tindal, the Defendant was acquitted of all charges.

  • Sexual Abuse in the 2nd Degree Conviction Reversed on Appeal

    Iowa Supreme Court No. 04-361. The Defendant was convicted of Sexual Abuse in the 2nd Degree. On appeal, Mr. Tindal successfully argued that the conviction was based on improperly admitted evidence. The conviction was reversed.

  • Trafficking Stolen Weapons and Misdemeanor Theft Charge Dismissed

    Scott County FECR384046. The Defendant was charged with Trafficking Stolen Weapons and Misdemeanor Theft. The Court dismissed the felony following a Motion litigated by Mr. Tindal. The Defendant subsequently pled to the remaining misdemeanor.

  • Vehicular Homicide Charges Reduced

    Johnson County FECR68296. The Defendant was charged with Vehicular Homicide. Following a suppression hearing, Mr. Tindal and his co-counsel were able to show that the blood test result was taken in violation of implied consent procedures. The case was subsequently resolved for a misdemeanor.

  • First Degree Murder and Child Endangerment Causing Death Acquitted of First Degree Murder at Trial

    Henry County FECR005634. Attorney Tindal’s client was charged with First Degree Murder and Child Endangerment Causing Death. Following a two week trial, the Defendant was acquitted of all charges.

  • Operating While Intoxicated Reduced to Public Intoxication

    Johnson County OWCR116811. The Defendant was charged with Operating While Intoxicated. Mr. Tindal was able to win the Iowa Dept of Transportation appeal and have the blood test result thrown out. The case was resolved for a public intoxication charge and no loss of license.

  • Operating While Intoxicated Second Offense Reduced to Public Intoxication

    Washington County OWIN010946. The Defendant was charged with Operating While Intoxicated Second Offense. Following long negotiations with the State the Defendant was able to plead to a Public Intoxication and have his driving privileges reinstated.


Keegan, Tindal, & Jaeger

Our Commitment to You
  • Our Attorneys Are well Respected Throughout Eastern Iowa

  • We Offer Free Consultations No Matter How Severe The Charge

  • Trial Attorneys With Successful Track Records In The Courtroom

  • Over 50 Years of Combined Experience In Criminal Defense with an Emphasis on OWI's

Keegan, tindal, & Jaeger 

Start Your Free Consultation Now
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.