If you have been caught in a criminal act, such as stealing, the victim may ask you to write a confession letter or fill out a form detailing the incident. While signing such a document may have some benefits, you may find yourself facing other consequences later. Before you agree to any sort of written confession, consider all of your options carefully.
Benefits of Signing a Confession
The employer, store or citizen you have committed a criminal act against may promise not to bring criminal charges against you if you draft a confession letter. However, the store or victim is not required to abide by any promises made to you. In a shoplifting case, a store may bring a civil demand against you and require you to pay a few hundred dollars after you have signed the confession. This may still be an attractive option if it means that you will not have a criminal record.
Confession Letter Guarantees
Unless explicitly stated, do not assume that there are any guaranteed benefits of signing a confession letter. You are not required to confess anything under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and no one can tell you what your punishment will be other than a judge. Though the store security may promise leniency in court or that the store will allow you to walk away with no punishment, there is no guarantee of this. The confession letter most likely can be used against you at a later date. It is always a good idea to consult with an attorney before you sign a letter of confession.
Effects of Confession Letter
After you sign a letter of confession, the victim will likely either turn it over to the police to be used against you in a criminal case or use it in a civil case against you. What's more, the company might not have had enough evidence to actually prove your guilt in the matter. Company officials also may not have the desire to prosecute you if it requires them to send witnesses to court to testify against you.
Content of a Confession Letter
Once you have signed a confession letter, it can be used to document in a court of law that you committed a crime. This is especially true if the police have gotten involved. If it is in your handwriting, it is unlikely that you will be able to dispute that you ever signed the document. If you do choose to write a letter, consulting with an attorney or your parents may be necessary.