if someone admits quilt to a sherrif, but then is acquitted at jury trial how is that possible?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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if someone admits quilt to a sherrif, but then is acquitted at jury trial how is that possible?

Male massage therapist admitted to a Florida Sheriff and the department of Health that he digitally penetrated a client during a massage, License was revoked. He went to jury trial and was acquitted. How is that possible?

Asked on October 7, 2018 under Criminal Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Five possible ways suggest themselves--there may be more:
1) People have confessed under duress--or when they are or legitimately feel threatened by the authorities. If the person "recanted," or denied, his prior statement and claimed he did so because he was threated or coerced, if the court believed him, they could discount the admission.
2) Similarly, if the admission was not recorded so it was just the sheriff's statement or word against the defendant, if the defendant denied saying what was claimed and came across believable but the sheriff did not, the court could believe the defendant, not sheriff.
3) If the person was intoxicated, under the influence, etc. when he admitted guilt, that could serve to throw out the admission, since he would not have been mentally competent when he made it. 
4) If the sheriff did not advise him of his rights, such as the right to an attorney and to remain silence (his "Miranda" rights), that failure to follow procedure could throw out the confession.
5) And sometimes it depends on what he was charged with, exactly. If the admission did not match the charge, it would not result in a conviction. To use a NJ example that I frequently deal with in my practice: "aggravated assault" requires either the use of a weapon or behavior manifesting an indifference to human life. If someone admitted to punching his neighbor in the nose, that would clearly be "simple assault," which requires only an attempt to harm--but if the authorities made the mistake of only charging him with aggravated asssault, since there was no weapon and a punch does not show "indifference to human life," the admission would not result in a conviction: it does not prove the charge. So if the therapist's admission did not match or support what he was charged with, that could result in acquitttal.

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