confessions.pdf - SUPPRESSING CONFESSIONS INVOLUNTARINESS AND MIRANDA By Paul Couenhoven I A CONFESSION IS INADMISSIBLE AS INVOLUNTARY IF IT IS

confessions.pdf - SUPPRESSING CONFESSIONS INVOLUNTARINESS...

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1SUPPRESSING CONFESSIONS:INVOLUNTARINESS AND MIRANDABy Paul CouenhovenI.A CONFESSION IS INADMISSIBLE AS INVOLUNTARY IF IT IS EXTRACTED BY COERCIVE MEANSGENERAL LAWThe due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United StatesConstitution and Article I, sections 7 and 15 of the California Constitution bar the use ofinvoluntary confessions against a criminal defendant.(Jackson v. Denno(1964) 378 U.S.368,385-386, People v. Benson(1990) 52 Cal.3d 754, 778.) The California Constitutionpreviously required more stringent safeguards. For example, the prosecution had the burdenof proving a statement was voluntary beyond a reasonable doubt. (People v. Memro(1995)11 Cal.4th 786, 826.) However, since the passage of Proposition 8, the CaliforniaConstitution offers no more protection than the federal one. (People v. Boyette(2002) 29Cal.4th 381, 411.)A confession is involuntary if it is not “the product of a rational intellect and a freewill.” (Mincey v. Arizona(1978) 437 U.S. 385, 398; see also Lynumn v. Illinois(1963) 372U.S. 528, 534 [test is whether defendant’s “will was overborne at the time he confessed”].)The question is whether the police used force or psychological ploys which are so coercivethat the tend to produce a statement that is involuntary, and therefore unreliable. (People v.Ray(1996) 13 Cal.4th 313, 340.) Coercive police conduct is a necessary predicate to afinding of involuntariness. (Colorado v. Connelly(1986) 479 U.S. 157, 167.) The test is,therefore, primarily objective. Subjective factors will be considered in determining whethera suspect’s will was overborne, but only if police coercion is present.Whether a statement is involuntary depends upon the totality of the circumstancessurrounding the interrogation. (People v. Neal(2003) 31 Cal.4th 63, 79.) The People “mustprove by a preponderance of the evidence that the statement was voluntary.” (People v.Vasila(1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 865, 873.) If a confession is involuntary, is must be totally
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2suppressed. It is inadmissible under any circumstances, even if the defendant testifies.(People v. Neal, supra, 31 Cal.4th at p. 78.)In most cases today, the interview is tape-recorded and often videotaped. The factssurrounding the interrogation are therefore undisputed. The standard on appeal is thereforeindependent review. “The ultimate issue of ‘voluntariness’ is a legal question requiringindependent . . . determination.” (Arizona v. Fulminante(1991) 499 U.S. 279, 287.) If forsome reason there is no tape recording, all factual findings, whether express or implied, mustbe accepted on appeal if supported by substantial evidence. (People v. Jablonski(2006) 37Cal.4th 774, 813-814.) This means if there is a conflict between a police officer’s and adefendant’s version of what occurred, the court will adopt the police officer’s version.VOLUNTARINESS: RELEVANT FACTORSAn involuntary confession is one “extracted by any sort of threats or violence, [or]obtained by any direct or implied promises, however slight, [or] by the exertion of anyimproper influence.” (Hutto v. Ross(1976) 429 U.S. 28, 30, quotation marks and citationsomitted.)
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