You're probably well aware that people often claim they are innocent when they are found guilty. But does it ever work the other way around? Would an innocent person tell the authorities that he or she was guilty, knowing full well that it wasn't true?

DNA Evidence

It may sound strange, but the answer is a resounding yes. Some of the evidence of these confessions comes from DNA, which has been used over the years to clear and release people who were wrongfully convicted. What is very interesting, though, is the people being cleared often confessed to being guilty. In one study, a professor examined 250 such cases, and there were confessions in 40 of them.

The Man Who Was Already in Jail

One of the most interesting cases involves a man who was arrested and accused of two murders. He then confessed and got a life sentence. That seems simple, but experts now say that he'd probably already been arrested. Police were allegedly holding him in jail, having arrested him and charged him with disorderly conduct, and he likely got out hours after the killings. If so, he clearly couldn't have done it.

Why It Happens

Experts are not sure exactly why this happens, but they point to a lot of potential factors. In some cases, those being charged do not have a high level of education. They're confused. They're afraid. In one case, the man who was eventually convicted had a low IQ, and police have been accused by some of manipulating him, leading him on with their questions for hours until they could get him to lie about his own guilt.

The Realities of Court

These cases are complex and there could be far more factors in play than have been mentioned here. However, it's clear that the phenomenon is real. Innocent people do confess, perhaps without realizing it, and are convicted. As such, it's very important for people to understand and be ready for the realities of court, knowing their legal rights in all situations.