Police Coercion: Age, Deception and

The court ruled that the police impaired her free choice by going beyond the evidence connecting her to the crime and introducing a completely extrinsic consideration in the form of an empty but plausible threat to take away something to which she and her children would otherwise be entitled.” (DiPietro, 1)

It is conceivable that this could be drawn on as a cause for inadmissibility of evidence yielded by the extrinsic threat of a death penalty which is an empty but plausible threat. In essence, this was an act which diluted the defendants conceptions of his own rights. That he was a minor at the time of this exchange implies further that he was particularly vulnerable to this type of distortion.

Those things said, it remains inherently problematic that the confession came outside the context of a coercive or inappropriate interrogation. The voluntary nature of the confession and the fact that the officer confirmed verbally that this confession was voluntary are ultimately too difficult to overcome in terms of proving coercion. The best opportunity for providing defense to Smith on the point of police coercion would be to emphasize his age, argue that extrinsic considerations which drawn into a discussion that distorted the defendants understanding of his own rights and to make a point of arguing that the original act of deception took place at a point at which the defendant had already requested the presence of an attorney.

At that juncture, we may be assured, it was inappropriate for the officer to engage the accused on any level. Clearly, this inappropriate interaction was a catalyst to a confession.

Works Cited:

DiPietro, A.L. (1993). Lies, promises, or threats: the voluntariness of confessions – interrogative techniques by police. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. Online at

Gideon, B. (2008). When Does Police Coercion Make a Confession Involuntary? A Public Defender. Online at

McKibben, C. (2006). Use of Lies to Obtain the Truth: The Police Can Lie To You. Criminal Attorney News. Online at

Moushey, B. (2006). False Confessions: Coercion Often Leads to False Confessions. Pittsburgh.

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