Effect of Promises
• [A] confession induced by promises, threats, or deceit is not voluntarily made.
• A confession is not admissible if it is the product of threats, physical abuse, or direct or implied promises.
See, e.g., McGhee v. State, 899 N.E.2d 35, 39 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008)(“At the very least, Detective Cole's comments constituted an implied promise that [the defendant] would not be prosecuted if he admitted to having sex with [the victim] and it turned out that the sex was consensual. Obviously, that was a promise that Detective Cole . . . could not keep. [The defendant’s] confession was brought about by Detective Cole's misstatement of the law and was therefore involuntary and inadmissible.”)
See also Parker v. State, 372 N.E.2d 1178, 1180 (Ind. 1978)(quoting Bram v. United States, 168 U.S.532, 542-43 (1897)(quoting 3 Russ. Crimes (6th Ed.) 478))(“To be admissible a confession or admission ‘‘must be free and voluntary: that is, must not be extracted by any sort of threats or violence, nor obtained by any direct or implied promises, however slight . . . . ’’”)
Promises of immunity or mitigation of punishment
• [A] confession is inadmissible if obtained by a promise of immunity or mitigation of punishment.
A.A. v. State, 706 N.E.2d 259, 263 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999)(citing Ashby v. State, 354 N.E.2d 192, 195 (Ind. 1976))(“[A] confession obtained by a promise of immunity or mitigation of punishment is inadmissible.”)
Vague and indefinite statements
• A confession is inadmissible if obtained by promises of mitigation or immunity; but, vague and indefinite statements by the police that it would be in a defendant’s best interest if he cooperated do not render a subsequent confession inadmissible.
See Martin v. State, 779 N.E.2d 1235, 1242 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002), trans. denied(citing Massey v. State, 473 N.E.2d 146, 148 (Ind. 1985))(“[V]ague and indefinite statements by the police about it being in the best interest of the defendant for him to tell the real story or cooperate with the police are not sufficient inducements to render a subsequent confession inadmissible.”)
See also Turner v. State, 682 N.E.2d 491, 495 (Ind. 1997)(citing Collins v. State, 509 N.E.2d 827, 830 (Ind. 1987))(“Vague assurances by police that making a statement is in the accused’s best interest do not constitute promises of leniency which would render a statement involuntary.”)
See alsoTurpin v. State, 400 N.E.2d 1119, 1121 (Ind. 1980)(citing Perry v. State, 374 N.E.2d 558, 559 (Ind. Ct. App. 1978))(“[I]t has often been held that vague statements by the police such as “seeing what they could do for him” or it would “be in his best interest to tell the real story” are not sufficient inducements to render objectionable a confession thereby obtained.”)
• Further, “[s]tatements by police expressing a desire that a suspect cooperate and explaining the crimes and penalties that are possible results are not specific enough to constitute either promises or threats.”
Specific requests by the defendant
• Where a promise of leniency results from a defendant’s specific request for it as a precondition for making a statement, rather than being initiated by the State, its voluntariness is not impaired thereby.
Collins v. State, 509 N.E.2d 827, 830 (Ind. 1987)(citing Drew v. State, 503 N.E.2d 613, 617 (Ind. 1987))(“Where a promise of leniency results from a specific request by the defendant, as a pre-condition for making a statement, rather than being initiated by the State, its voluntariness is not impaired thereby.”)
Statements not constituting promises
• A statement offering medical assistance does not constitute a promise of immunity or mitigation of punishment . . . .
• This was followed by a statement by the officer: “[I]f I can get [the prosecutor] down here, would you tell the truth, if he’d cut you a deal?” It is obvious from this language the officer was not making any promise or offering to make a deal himself. He was merely asking [the defendant] “what if” the prosecutor would make a deal, would [the defendant] then be willing to talk.
• [The defendant] claims he only gave that statement to the police because Officer Duhamell promised him that if he gave a statement he could go home. . . . [E]ven if we assume for the sake of argument that Officer Duhamell in fact did make such a statement to [the defendant], it falls far short of the promise of mitigation or a promise of leniency.
• A confession induced by a promise of leniency or prosecutorial immunity is barred “not because the promise was an illegal act as such, but because defendants at such times are too sensitive to inducement and the possible impact on them too great to ignore and too difficult to assess.”