Exhuming the body of the corpus delicti rule

International Journal of Applied Philosophy 21 (2):253-264 (2007)
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The Corpus Delicti Rule prohibits the introduction of the defendant’s confession to a crime to count as evidence against the defendant in the absence of independent evidence of the crime in question. The common law rule, designed to protect the defendant who confesses to the commission of a fictitious crime, has fallen out of favor with federal courts and a number of state courts. Moreover, the rule has its academic detractors. This essay is an attempt to investigate the value of the rule, the academic criticisms of the rule and to analyze the federal substitute for the rule. If the analysis is not completely astray, the rule serves a most admirable social purpose. The academic arguments are not so telling as to justify jettisoning the rule. Finally, the federal rule is argued to be either completelyinadequate a protection or an adequate protection only to the extent that the federal substitute is coextensive with the rule it is designed to replace, namely, the original Corpus Delicti Rule



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