They said if you signed the paper, they’d give you a better deal or even let you go.

After being arrested, you were brought to the police station. Maybe you were tired or or just not thinking straight. So you signed the paper confessing to the crime, thinking you’d made a deal. You would be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Or maybe not charged at all in exchange for testimony. But that’s not how things turned out.

Can you now be convicted because of your confession? What can you do?

In Illinois, the prosecutor must prove most crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. This means proving each element of the crime, and that you did it. So when you confessed, did you hand the prosecutor all the proof they needed?

Not necessarily. A confession without any corroborating evidence is not enough to convict you of a crime. The prosecutor must provide other evidence that connects you with the crime, but this evidence need not independently prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence need only show that, when taken along with your confession, it is likely you committed the crime. Whether the independent evidence is enough to corroborate your confession may be a question for the judge or jury.

If you have confessed, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with third parties, or you could inadvertently provide the corroboration that the prosecutor needs. An attorney can review your case to help you present the possible defense. Did the police have the probable cause required to take you into custody? Did they follow the correct procedures? Is there any evidence to back up your confession? In certain cases, an attorney may petition the court to get your confession thrown out.

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an experienced attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a better plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

For a caselaw discussion on the rule requiring corroboration, see People v Jason Lara.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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