I am looking for a legal term in the case where a particular behavior is outlawed. The governing body suspects someone has conducted the behavior but has no proof. The governing body then addresses the population and says “we know who did said behavior, but we want to give that person a chance to come forward. If you come forward, your punishment will be reduced”.

What is this called when the illusion of evidence prompts a confession?

  • 3
    This is related to the concept of amnesty. Tax agencies often do it, for instance. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_amnesty Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 22:24
  • There are terms (although I am not familiar with them, they are fairly obscure and used mostly by police training experts) in criminal justice when a law enforcement officer says this to someone in custody (which is legal in most U.S. jurisdictions unlike the U.K.). I'm not sure what it would be called (or if it even has a name) in this context. There is also a military term for providing false information to the public for strategic reasons.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


In the UK this is just called "an appeal for the suspect to come forward."

The UK police are not allowed to lie or mislead as suggested in the OP, and any reduction in punishment is in the hands of the courts when passing sentence (unlike some other jurisdictions, I believe).

  • 2
    In most U.S. jurisdictions, police are allowed to lie in this fashion. (District attorneys are not allowed to do so, however).
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 19:36

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