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Q: Confession vs. Allocution ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Confession vs. Allocution
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: chriso_312-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 02 Nov 2002 17:27 PST
Expires: 02 Dec 2002 17:27 PST
Question ID: 96906
What is the legal difference between a "confession" and an "allocution" ?
Subject: Re: Confession vs. Allocution
Answered By: weisstho-ga on 02 Nov 2002 19:26 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear Chriso,

A CONFESSION, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a voluntary
statement made by a person charged with the commission of a crime or
misdemeanor, communicated to another person, wherein he acknowledges
himself to be guilty of the offense charged, and discloses the
circumstances of the act or the share and participation which he had
in it.”  Also, “a statement made by a defendant disclosing his guilt
of crime with which he is charged and excluding possibility of a
reasonable inference to the contrary. Voluntary statement made by one
who is defendant in criminal trial at time when he is not testifying
in trial and by which he acknowledges certain conduct of his own
constituting crime for which he is on trial; a statement which, if
true, discloses his guilt of that crime.”

An ALLOCUTION is a “formality of the court’s inquiry of defendant as
to whether he has any legal cause to show why judgment should not be
pronounced against him on verdict of conviction; or, whether he would
like to make statement on his behalf and present any information in
mitigation of sentence.”  See Black’s Law Dictionary.

I like to think of a Confession as the statement made prior to being
in court; it is the statement made (usually) to the police and/or
prosecutor, the “I did it” statement. But confessions are not, in and
of themselves, absolute and final. The conditions under which the
confession was taken may not have been proper or the confessor may
have lied about their involvement, for either personal or coercive

But a judge in accepting a guilty plea cannot just take someone’s word
that the crime was committed. The judge must find that “there exists
an adequate factual basis to support the charge and the plea” and that
the guilty plea was “knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently made.” 
That is where the Allocution comes in.  Prior to accepting a guilty
plea, the judge will ask the defendant what happened.  The judge,
knowing what the elements of the crime are, wants to hear the
defendant explain the events so that the court knows that the elements
of the crime were completed.  Also, the court wants to make sure that
the defendant is willingly accepting responsibility.

I have seen more than a few cases where the allocution was weak, or
the defendant provided excuses or was unwilling to take responsibility
for an important element, and the judge, finding that the allocution
is inadequate, refuses to accept the guilty plea and sets the matter
for trial.

I hope that this explanation provides you with the information you
desire.  If for any reason you would like clarification, or would like
any elaboration, please click on the “Clarification” button and I will
get right back to you.

Best of luck,


Sources used:

Black’s Law Dictionary
chriso_312-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thank you, comprehensive answer!

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