Judge's Decision Is a Confession Was Voluntary (Before Jury Hears It)

A defendant who has confessed to the commission of a crime has a "constitutional right at some stage in the proceedings to object to the use of the confession and to have a fair hearing and a reliable determination on the issue of voluntariness, a determination uninfluenced by the truth or falsity of the confession." (Jackson v. Denno (1964) 378 U.S. 368, 376-377 84 S. Ct. 1774, 1780-1781, 12 L. Ed. 2d 908, 915-916, 1 A.L.R.3d 1205.) Such a defendant "is entitled to a determination of the voluntariness of his confession in the state courts in accordance with valid state procedures . . . ." (Id. at p. 393 84 S. Ct. at p. 1789.) Due process "requires 'that a jury not hear a confession unless and until the trial judge or some other independent decision maker has determined that it was freely and voluntarily given." ( Crane v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S. 683, 687-688 106 S. Ct. 2142, 2145, 90 L. Ed. 2d 636, 643.) California law is in accord: "The timely Miranda objection imposed on the trial court a procedural duty to determine the existence or nonexistence of the preliminary fact, i.e., appellant's waiver of his Miranda rights, out of the presence of the jury. ( Evid. Code, 310, 402, 405; People v. Rowe (1972) 22 Cal. App. 3d 1023, 1030 99 Cal. Rptr. 816.) That a defendant is entitled to a voir dire hearing on the Miranda question before his extrajudicial statements are admitted into evidence is beyond question. And while the trial court need not make formal findings, its determination on the Miranda question must be reflected in the record with 'unmistakable clarity.' (Sims v. Georgia (1967) 385 U.S. 538, 544 17 L. Ed. 2d 593, 598, 87 S. Ct. 639, 643; People v. Rowe, supra, 22 Cal. App. 3d at p. 1029.) " ( People v. Bennett (1976) 58 Cal. App. 3d 230, 235-236 129 Cal. Rptr. 679.)