If an interrogator promises leniency in exchange for incriminating statements and a criminal prosecution results, statements may be suppressed, or, excluded from presentation at a jury trial, if a judge agrees that the officer “crossed the line” and promised leniency in exchange for a confession or an incriminating statement.
Going all the way back to 1957, the Iowa Supreme Court has held that promissory leniency renders a confession involuntary. State v. Mullin, 249 Iowa 10, 18, 85 N.W.2d 598, 602–03 (1957)(“if it clearly appears the confession was induced by force, threats, promises, or other improper inducements, the question is one of law for the court alone and the statement should be rejected”).
Any amount of inducement can taint a confession. The test “is whether the language used amounts to an inducement which is likely to cause the subject to make a false confession.” State v. Howard, 825 N.W.2d 32, 40 (Iowa 2012).
For example, an interrogator may not imply that an interrogation “get the help they need,” thereby planting the seed that they might receive psychiatric treatment instead of a prison sentence, if they confess. Id.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a criminal offense in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or other Iowa community, contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC.
However, remember that a blog is not legal advice and that sending unsolicited information to a lawyer over the Internet does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
Don't believe in unicorns. Police come very close to, and sometimes cross, the line of acceptable conduct during interrogations. If an officer offers to exchange leniency for your confession, incriminating statements may be suppressed as involuntary under a theory of impermissible promissory leniency. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a crime in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, or other Iowa community, contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC at 319-389-1889. But remember that a blog is not legal advice and that sending unsolicited information to an attorney over the Internet does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
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