CONFESSION, crim. law, evidence. The voluntary declaration made by a person who has committed a crime or misdemeanor, to another, of the agency or participation which he had in the same.
2. When made without bias or improper influence, confessions are admissible in evidence, as the highest and most satisfactory proof: because it is fairly presumed that no man would make such a confession against himself, if the facts confessed were not true but they are excluded, if liable to the of having been unfairly obtained.
3. Confessions should be received with great caution, as they are liable to many objections. There is danger of error from the misapprehension of witnesses, the misuse of words, the failure of a party to express his own meaning, the prisoner being oppressed by his unfortunate situation, and influenced by hope, fear, and sometimes a worse motive, to male an untrue confession. See the case of the two Boorns in Greenl. Ev . 214, note 1; North American Review, vol. 10, p. 418; 6 Carr. & P. 451; Joy on Confess. s. 14, p. 100; and see1 Chit. Cr. Law, 85.
4. A confession must be made voluntarily, by the party himself, to another person. 1. It must be voluntary. A confession, forced from the mind by the flattery of hope, or the torture of fear, comes in so questionable a shape, when it is to be considered as evidence of guilt, that Lo credit ought to be given to it. 1 Leach, 263. This is the principle, but what amounts to a promise or a threat, is not so easily defined. Vide 2 East, P. C. 659; 2 Russ. on Cr. 644 4 Carr. & Payne, 387; S. C. 19 Eng. Com. L. Rep. 434; 1 Southard, R. 231 1 Wend. R. 625; 6 Wend. R. 268 5 Halst. R. 163 Mina's Trial, 10; 5 Rogers' Rec. 177 2 Overton, R. 86 1 Hayw. (N. C.) R, 482; 1 Carr. & Marsh. 584. But it must be observed that a confession will be considered as voluntarily made, although it was made after a promise of favor or threat of punishment, by a person not in authority, over the prisoner. If, however, a person having such authority over him be present at the time, and he express no dissent, evidence of such confession cannot be given. 8 Car. & Payne, 733.
5. - 2. The confession must be made by the party to be affected by it. It is evidence only against him. In case of a conspiracy, the acts of one conspirator are the acts of all, while active in the progress of the conspiracy, but after it is over, the confession of one as to the part he and others took in the crime, is not evidence against any but himself. Phil. Ev. 76, 77; 2 Russ. on Cr. 653.
6. - 3. The confession must be to another person. It may be made to a private individual, or under examination before a magistrate. The whole of the confession must be taken, together with whatever conversation took place at the time of the confession. Roscoe's Ev. N. P. 36; 1 Dall. R. 240 Id. 392; 3 Halst. 27 5 .2 Penna. R. 27; 1 Rogers' Rec. 66; 3 Wheeler's C. C. 533; 2 Bailey's R. 569; 5 Rand. R. 701.
7. Confession, in another sense, is where a prisoner being arraigned for an offence, confesses or admits the crmie with which he is charged, whereupon the plea of guilty is entered. Com Dig. Indictment, K; Id. Justices, W 3; Arch. Cr. Pl. 1 2 1; Harr. Dig. b. t.; 20 Am. Jur. 68; Joy on Confession.
8. Confessions are classed into judicial and extra judicial. Judicial confessions are those made before a magistrate, or in court, in the due course of legal proceedings; when made freely by the party, and with a full and perfect knowledge of their nature and consequences, they are sufficient to found a conviction. These confessions are such as are authorized by a statute, as to take a preliminary examination in writing; or they are by putting in the plea of guilty to an indictment. Extra judicial confessions are those wbich are made by the part elsewhere than before a magistrate or in open court. 1 Greenl. Ev. 216. See, generally, 3 Bouv. Inst. n. 3081-2.