W.D.Mo.: Def’s consent under a partial misleading threat as to possible sentence was still voluntary

Defendant still consented in the face of the threat of a 20 year sentence, which was partly misleading under the Sentencing Guidelines. The search of the buildings, vehicle, and cell phone was reasonably within the scope of his consent. There was also a separate justification for the search of defendant’s vehicle. United States v. Hale, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92622 (W.D. Mo. June 4, 2019). As to the consent in general under the threat:

In light of Hale’s education, intelligence, and prior interaction with law enforcement, the Court finds that the officer’s “threat” [of a 20 year sentence] amounted to a restatement of a principle well known to anyone subject to more than a glancing interaction with the justice system: that cooperating with law enforcement is a common means toward reducing punishment. The Eighth Circuit has held that the threat of a long prison sentence if a defendant was uncooperative and the promise of a lenient sentence if a defendant was cooperative did not render a confession involuntary. United States v. Meirovitz, 918 F.2d 1376, 1379 (8th Cir. 1990); see also United States v. Pierce, 152 F.3d 808, 813 (8th Cir. 1998) (officer telling defendant “it’s a proven fact that cooperation helps in the long run” with regard to sentencing did not render subsequent cooperation involuntary). The officer’s threat in this case, although potent, was not fundamentally deceptive, and was not sufficiently coercive as to overcome Hale’s will and render his consent involuntary. The officers did deceive Hale by telling him federal prisoners cannot reduce their sentences for good behavior, but in view of the totality of the circumstances this lie was not enough to overcome his will. After carefully weighing every factor, the Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that Hale’s consent was voluntary and will consequently adopt the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation in this matter.

This entry was posted in Consent. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.