A man convicted of sexual assault may receive a new trial. The matter hinges on whether or not a judge finds the man’s confession was a result of coercion.
In the case, a man allegedly confessed to sexual relations with his 17 year-old daughter. The charges were issued after both the daughter and the man’s wife issued statements that the assault occurred. The wife recanted her statement and the man argued that his daughter’s accusations were made out of anger because she was upset about recently being disciplined.
Ultimately, the jury disagreed and found the man guilty of child sex abuse. More specifically, he was convicted of second-degree sexual assault by sexual penetration of a blood relative, fourth-degree criminal sexual contact and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child. He was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment to be served as two consecutive 8 year terms.
Is the confession admissible?
Two ways to question the admissibility of a confession is to examine whether or not Miranda rights were given and whether or not the confession was voluntary.
Police are required to inform anyone in custody of the following rights: the right to remain silent, that anything said could be used against them, that they can get an attorney and that if they cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided. These rights were provided by the Supreme Court to anyone in police custody in Miranda v. Arizona. If police proceed with an interrogation and receive a confession without giving these rights, the confession is inadmissible.
Protection does not end with these rights. A confession is also inadmissible if given due to coercive acts. The question of when a police officer uses coercive acts is receiving renewed attention as legal experts are finding a connection between coerced confessions and false convictions.
When is this line crossed? Essentially, when a confession is no longer freely given, it is coerced. A recent New York case provides some clarity to this rather vague definition. In the case, a man was accused of injuring his infant son. The police told the man physicians treating his son, who was already pronounced brain dead, needed more information to save the infant’s life. As a result, the man admitted to scenarios given by the police. Judges later stated that telling a parent a confession could help save a child’s life makes the confession less than voluntary.
These cases provide examples that even after confessions are provided those who are accused of a crime should not lose hope. Contact an experienced child sexual abuse defense lawyer to discuss your case and better ensure your legal rights are protected.