It is often difficult to draw the line between good police work and excessive pressure in getting a confession. This case is made for an episode of The Confession Tapes.
A 73-year-old man with no formal education gets convinced that he molested a four-year-old girl. Police officers lie to him that his DNA was found on the girl’s body and that the girl passed a lie detector. Both never actually happened. Officers told him that he was not being arrested and they were only there to get a statement for the judge. They minimize his alleged conduct. They tell him what to say to get out of the situation, and he eventually adopts those statements.
The defendant, Mr. Torres, goes to trial and loses. There is no evidence against him except for the recorded confession. The girl says that she does not understand the difference between “truth and lie” at trial. There is also some suggestion that the story came from her mother.
The Appellate Court analyzed if Miranda warning was supposed to be given by the police before the interrogation. Miranda applied during custodial interrogations. They analyze if Mr. Torrest was in fact in custody. He was. His defense attorney is deemed ineffective for failing to file a Miranda motion or object at trial to the confession tape. It’s unlikely that he would have been convicted without that taped confession.
Considering that so many people talk to the police even after being Mirandized, what do we think of police officer’s pressure techniques in getting a confession?
Full Opinion at http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/D072610.PDF
Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
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