Is Inducement to Confess by Promise of Leniency or Reward Legal ?
A confession that has been extracted from a defendant as a result of assurances or promises of leniency is inadmissible.
The test of the admissibility of confessions is whether they were extorted from the accused by some threat or elicited by some promise (such as would be involuntary and inadmissible), or made from a willingness on the part of the accused to tell the truth and relieve his conscience (such would be regarded as voluntary and admissible).
An inducement to confess is improper when a promise of a benefit or reward has been made or implied by one whom the accused could reasonably believe had the authority or power to execute it.
Mere admonitions or exhortations to tell the truth will not, by themselves, render a confession involuntary.
A confession, otherwise fully and voluntarily made, is not vitiated by a promise of leniency unless such promise was the motivating cause of the confession.
In determining whether a confession was the product of improper inducements, all of the circumstances attending the making of that confession must be examined.
In Tardiff, the Court found that the Defendant confessed following a promise by the police that in return he would be charged with only one offense of his own choice, rather than three. the legally impermissible promise of leniency rendered defendant's confession involuntary as a matter of law.
In State v. Hutchinson, 597 A.2d 1344 (Me. 1991) the officers said to the defendant regarding the charges against him, that he should tell the truth because "people generally feel better if they tell the truth".