Artificial Intelligence and Law

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 303–340 | Cite as

Automatic deception detection in Italian court cases

  • Tommaso FornaciariEmail author
  • Massimo Poesio


Effective methods for evaluating the reliability of statements issued by witnesses and defendants in hearings would be an extremely valuable support to decision-making in court and other legal settings. In recent years, methods relying on stylometric techniques have proven most successful for this task; but few such methods have been tested with language collected in real-life situations of high-stakes deception, and therefore their usefulness outside lab conditions still has to be properly assessed. In this study we report the results obtained by using stylometric techniques to identify deceptive statements in a corpus of hearings collected in Italian courts. The defendants at these hearings were condemned for calumny or false testimony, so the falsity of (some of) their statements is fairly certain. In our experiments we replicated the methods used in previous studies but never before applied to high-stakes data, and tested new methods. We also considered the effect of a number of variables including in particular the homogeneity of the dataset. Our results suggest that accuracy at deception detection clearly above chance level can be obtained with real-life data as well.


Deception detection Stylometry Criminal proceedings 



To create DeCour has been very complex, and it would not have been possible without the kind collaboration of a lot of people. Many thanks to Dr. Francesco Scutellari, President of the Court of Bologna, to Dr. Heinrich Zanon, President of the Court of Bolzano, to Dr. Francesco Antonio Genovese, President of the Court of Prato and to Dr. Sabino Giarrusso, President of the Court of Trento.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Mind/Brain SciencesUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly
  2. 2.School for Computer Science and Electronic EngineeringUniversity of EssexColchesterUK

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