17 Capacity to Waive Miranda Rights and the Assessment of Susceptibility to Police Coercion

Forensic Psychology


  1. Naomi E. S. Goldstein PhD1,
  2. Alan M. Goldstein PhD, ABPP2,
  3. Heather Zelle JD1,
  4. Lois Oberlander Condie PhD, ABPP3

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop211017

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Goldstein, N. E. S., Goldstein, A. M., Zelle, H. and Condie, L. O. 2012. Capacity to Waive Miranda Rights and the Assessment of Susceptibility to Police Coercion. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 11:III:17.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Drexel University, Department of Psychology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

  2. 2

    City University of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, New York, USA

  3. 3

    Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Forensic mental health professionals may be asked by attorneys or judges to evaluate defendants' capacities to have waived Miranda rights and offered admissible confessions during police interrogations. This chapter reviews two major psycholegal issues related to confessions during custodial interrogations. First, this chapter focuses on the right to avoid self-incrimination, with emphases on case law and empirical research on suspects' abilities to provide knowing, intelligent, and voluntary rights waivers. Forensic assessment methodology for evaluating defendants' Miranda waiver capacities is provided. Second, this chapter reviews issues related to psycholegal questions about false confessions. It provides information about the appropriate scope and admissibility of such testimony, and empirical research findings on false confessions are described. Assessment methodology is presented for evaluating characteristics that might have contributed to a defendant's likelihood of having offered a false confession. A case example is provided to illustrate the forensic mental health evaluation process in the context of a possible suppression hearing.


  • Miranda;
  • interrogations;
  • confessions;
  • forensic evaluations;
  • Constitutional rights