From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In the law of criminal evidence, a confession is a statement by a suspect in crime which is adverse to that person.
This specific form of testimony, involving oneself, is used as a form of proof in judicial matters, this since at least the Inquisition. The value of confessions, however, are discussed, and law generally request cross-checking them with objective facts and others forms of evidence (exhibits, testimonies from witnesses, etc.) in order to evaluate their truth value. Confessions were first developed in the Roman Catholic Church under the Sacrament of Penance, where the confession of a sin is considered to be enough to absolve oneself. This aspect concerning moral guilt has been carried on in various legislative codes, in which a criminal is considered worse if he does not confess to his crimes.
On one hand, confessions obtained under torture have often been considered as not objective enough, since the use of such means may lead to the suspect in confessing anything. On the other hand, even without torture, various cases of avered false confessions demonstrate that, in itself, one man's confession is not a sufficient proof. False memory (including memory biases, etc.) or privileges granted under plea bargaining might lead to such false confessions.