- Date: 14th century
- 1 a : an act of confessing; especially : a disclosure of one's sins in the sacrament of reconciliation
- b : a session for the confessing of sins <go to confession>
- 2 : a statement of what is confessed: as a : a written or oral acknowledgment of guilt by a party accused of an offense
This specific form of testimony, involving oneself, is used as a form of proof in judicial matters, this since at least the Inquisition. The value of confessions, however, are discussed, and law generally request cross-checking them with objective facts and others forms of evidence (exhibits, testimonies from witnesses, etc.) in order to determine their truth value. Confessions were first developed in the Roman Catholic Church under the Sacrament of Penance, where the confession of a sin is considered to be enough to absolve oneself. This aspect concerning moral guilt has been carried on in various legislative codes, in which a criminal is considered worse if he does not confess to his crimes.
On the other hand, confessions obtained under torture have often been considered as not objective enough, since the use of such means may lead to the suspect in confessing anything. Even without torture, various cases of averred false confessions demonstrate that, in itself, one man's confession is not a sufficient proof. False memory (including memory biases, etc.) or privileges granted under plea bargaining might lead to such false confessions.