November 26, 2009 By Wallin & Klarich

A recent California Supreme Court opinion held half of a defendant’s statement to be inadmissible because it was coerced by the police. However, the first part of the statement was still enough for the jury to convict the defendant of a double murder.

The California Supreme Court was not happy with the police tactics used to illicit the confession and wrote extensively about the improper procedure. The court ruled, in part, that the police may not illicit a confession through a direct or implied promise. In this case, the promise was to exclude the defendant’s wife from further investigation in exchange for a confession to the murders.

In all criminal cases, a statement is involuntary if it is not the product of a rational intellect and free will. The test for determining whether a confession is voluntary is whether the defendant’s will was overborne at the time he confessed. In other words, were the influences brought to bear upon the accused enough to overbear the defendant’s will to resist, and bring about confessions not freely self-determined. In determining whether or not an accused’s will was overborne, an examination must be made of all the surrounding circumstances-both the characteristics of the accused and the details of the interrogation.

A finding of coercive police activity is a prerequisite to a finding that a confession was involuntary under the federal and state Constitutions. A confession may be found involuntary if extracted by the police through threats or violence, obtained by direct or implied promises, or secured by the exertion of improper influence. Although coercive police activity is a necessary predicate to establish an involuntary confession, it does not itself compel a finding that a resulting confession is involuntary.

In every situation where you or a loved one is accused of a crime, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense firm on your side. If you have been convicted of a crime on the basis of a coerced confession, you should call Wallin & Klarich immediately. The skilled Orange County criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience handling criminal matters and appeals. Our attorneys take the time to review the record of your case and look for investigatory flaws like the coerced confession. Our attorneys can be reached via phone or through our website at 1-888-280-6839. Also visit us on the web at

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