State v. Flood, 237 N.C. App. 287 (Nov. 18, 2014)

In a child sexual assault case, the trial court erred by finding that the defendant’s statements were made involuntarily. Although the court found that an officer made improper promises to the defendant, it held, based on the totality of the circumstances, that the statement was voluntarily. Regarding the improper promises, Agent Oaks suggested to the defendant during the interview that she would work with and help the defendant if he confessed and that she “would recommend . . . that [the defendant] get treatment” instead of jail time. She also asserted that Detective Schwab “can ask for, you know, leniency, give you this, do this. He can ask the District Attorney’s Office for certain things. It’s totally up to them [what] they do with that but they’re going to look for recommendations[.]” Oaks told the defendant that if he “admit[s] to what happened here,” Schwab is “going to probably talk to the District Attorney and say, ‘hey, this is my recommendation. Hey, this guy was honest with us. This guy has done everything we’ve asked him to do. What can we do?’ and talk about it.” Because it is clear that the purpose of Oaks’ statements “was to improperly induce in Defendant a belief that he might obtain some kind of relief from criminal charges if he confessed,” they were improper promises. However, viewing the totality of the circumstances (length of the interview, the defendant’s extensive experience with the criminal justice system given his prior service as a law enforcement officer, etc.), the court found his statement to be voluntarily.