Cat Out of the Bag Theory Law

In Griffin v. State, 765 S.W.2d 422 (Tex. Crim. App. 1989), the Court addressed the validity of the "cat out of the bag" theory. That theory posits that once a confession is obtained illegally, any subsequent statements may be tainted by the illegality infecting the first, inadmissible confession. Griffin involved a juvenile who was questioned about her involvement in a murder, and who made two incriminating statements. The first of those statements was held inadmissible because it did not meet the requisites of the section of the Texas Family Code governing admissibility of oral statements taken from juveniles. Id. at 425. Although the second statement was taken in accordance with the Family Code section, the juvenile was not aware that the first statement could not be used against her at trial when she made the second statement. Therefore the Court of Appeals held that the second confession was not voluntary, and was therefore inadmissible under the "cat out of the bag" theory. Id. In Griffin v. State, 765 S.W.2d 422, 428 (Tex. Crim. App. 1989), the court held that a juvenile's confession was not involuntary and inadmissible merely because she had made an earlier statement at a time when she had been warned of her rights only by a police officer rather than by a magistrate, as required by the Family Code. Griffin, 765 S.W.2d at 431. To determine the admissibility of the later statement, courts must look to the totality of the circumstances to determine whether that statement was the product of official coercion. Id. at 430.