Confession vs Admission: Difference and Comparison

When it comes to the law of evidence knowing the difference between confession and admission is essential, as they have varying degrees of importance when submitted as proof.

Key Takeaways

  1. Confession is an admission of guilt or wrongdoing, in a religious or legal context.
  2. Admission is simply acknowledging or agreeing to something, whether it is a fact or wrongdoing.
  3. Confession is more severe and implies wrongdoing, while admission is more general and can refer to any acknowledgment.

Confession vs Admission

Confession refers to a voluntary admission of guilt or wrongdoing, in a religious or legal setting and is given after being read the Miranda Rights and is often used as evidence against the accused in a criminal trial. Admission simply refers to acknowledging or admitting to a fact or statement.

Confession vs Admission

It can be made by any of the concerned parties. The concept has also been defined under Section 17 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.


Comparison Table

Parameter Of ComparisonConfessionAdmission
DefinitionA voluntary statement by the accused is a direct acknowledgement of their guilt.Acknowledgement of a fact in an issue or a relevant fact
Made byAccusedAny party to the proceedings or their agent or even a third party
ProceedingsCriminalBoth civil and criminal
Degree Of ProofConclusiveSubstantive evidence but not conclusive proof
RetractabilityCan be retractedIt cannot be retracted


What is Confession?

When the accused in a case directly acknowledges their guilt, that statement is called a confession.


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This is based on the premise that no one will falsely admit to being guilty of an offence. A confession can also be later retracted.

A confession must be a direct statement, not merely an inference from the accused’s words.

It must be made voluntarily and without any form of coercion being used.

While a conviction cannot rely solely on a confession, it can be used to corroborate other evidence.

The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 does not define confession. Still, it lays down certain conditions that must be fulfilled for a confession to be accepted as evidence and also explains the circumstances under which a confession will be relevant.

Under Section 24, the Act mandates that a confession will be relevant only if it is not made under any threat or inducement from the authorities.

In keeping with this principle, Section 25 lays down that if the confession is made to the police while the accused is in their custody, it will not be relevant.

However, a confession made to the police can be accepted if it is done in front of a Magistrate, as the presence of the Magistrate will ensure the safety of the accused.

This has been stated in Section 26 of the Act.

Similarly, if a confession is made while in the custody of a police officer, which leads to a fact being proved, Section 27 allows for that confession so far as it relates to the proven fact to be presumed accurate.

Section 28 also allows for a confession made in police custody to be held relevant if the court feels that all the forces that could threaten, induce, or make promises have been removed.

Even if the accused confessed because they were promised secrecy or when they were drunk or wore unaware that the police could overhear them speaking, it will be considered relevant as laid down by Section 29.

There are two types of confession–judicial and extra-judicial.

The former refers to a confession made in Court during the trial or one made to a Magistrate as per Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

If a confession is made outside of court proceedings and not in the presence of a Magistrate, it is called an extra-judicial confession.

The simple act of the accused admitting their guilt out loud in front of bystanders can be taken as a confession if corroborative evidence can be proven.


What is Admission?

Admission is defined under Section 17 of the Act as “a statement, oral or documentary or contained in electronic form, which suggests any inference as to any fact in issue or relevant fact, and which is made by any of the persons, and under the circumstances, from now on mentioned.”

While admission also refers to a voluntary acknowledgement of a fact, the definition is far more expansive than confession.

Section 18 holds that a statement made by a party to the proceeding or their agent is an admission. Thus it can be made by any party and not just the accused.

In the case of a third party making a statement, if a party’s liability depends on the liability of that third party to the suit, then that statement can be considered an admission according to Section 19.

This is an exception to the principle that only parties to the suit can make admissions.

Section 20 also provides an exception to the principle as mentioned earlier, as it allows statements made by third parties to be treated as admissions if they have been expressly referred for information by a party to the suit.

The Act lays down that admission is relevant under Section 21.

It further allows for it to be proved only against the person making it or against their agent.

However, the section also describes the exceptional situations in which admission can be proved by the person making it or by his agent.  

Once admission is made, the maker is bound by what they have said. It must be voluntary and not made under any form of threat of coercion.

There are two types of admission. Parties make judicial admissions during the proceedings in Court, and they are entirely binding on the parties.

Extrajudicial admissions are informal and made outside of the proceedings in court.

Since extra-judicial admissions are not made through a formal procedure, they cannot be made entirely binding.

They operate only in so far as they can be used as an estoppel.

Moreover, they are not made part of the case records.


Main Differences Between Confession and Admission

  1. Confession is a voluntary statement by the accused directly acknowledging their guilt.
  2. Admission is a voluntary statement of a fact in an issue or a relevant fact.
  3. Confession can only be made by the accused.
  4. Any party can make admission to the proceedings of a case or their agent, and in certain circumstances, by third parties as well.
  5. Confessions can only be made in criminal proceedings.
  6. Admissions can be made in both civil and criminal proceedings.  
Difference Between Confession and Admission
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