Involuntariness Legal Definition

The courts have provided various definitions of involuntariness. In Hutto v. Ross (1976) 429 U.S. 28, 30 [97 S. Ct. 202, 203, 50 L. Ed. 2d 194], the court stated a confession is involuntary and excludible as a denial of due process when it "was ' "extracted by any sort of threats or violence, [or] obtained by any direct or implied promises, however slight, [or] by the exertion of any improper influence." As the court in People v. Cahill (1994) 22 Cal. App. 4th 296, 310 [28 Cal. Rptr. 2d 1], stated, however: "The application of the axiom that involuntary confessions are not admissible is not always a simple matter; the concept of voluntariness is multifaceted and has been described as a 'potential morass. 'A complex of values underlies the stricture against use by the state of confessions which, by way of convenient shorthand, this Court terms involuntary, and the role played by each in any situation varies according to the particular circumstances of the case.' In explaining this "complex of values," the court cited Jackson v. Denno (1964) 378 U.S. 368, 385-386 [84 S. Ct. 1774, 1785, 12 L. Ed. 2d 908, 1 A.L.R.3d 1205]: 'It is now inescapably clear that the Fourteenth Amendment forbids the use of involuntary confessions not only because of the probable unreliability of confessions that are obtained in a manner deemed coercive, but also because of the "strongly felt attitude of our society that important human values are sacrificed where an agency of the government, in the course of securing a conviction, wrings a confession out of an accused against his will". . . .' " ( People v. Cahill, supra, 22 Cal. App. 4th at pp. 310-311, fn. 4.)