This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat.§ 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




State of Minnesota,



Michael Jay Lahs,


Filed February 4, 1997


Kalitowski, Judge

Blue Earth County District Court

File No. K095186

Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondent)

Christopher D. Cain, Mankato City Attorney, 202 East Jackson Street, P.O. Box 3368, Mankato, MN 56002-3368 (for Respondent)

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Evan W. Jones, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3230 (for Appellant)

Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.



Appellant Michael Lahs challenges the district court's determination that his confession was voluntary. We affirm.


In a pretrial suppression hearing where the defendant seeks suppression of a confession, the state has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the confession was voluntarily given. State v. Thaggard, 527 N.W.2d 804, 807 (Minn. 1995) (citation omitted). An appellate court is not bound by the district court's determination on this issue and must "independently determine, on the basis of all factual findings that are not clearly erroneous, whether or not the confession was voluntary." Id. (quoting State v. Anderson, 396 N.W.2d 564, 565 (Minn. 1986)).

To determine whether a confession was voluntary, a court must examine the totality of the circumstances. State v. Jungbauer, 348 N.W.2d 344, 346 (Minn. 1984). Factors to consider when making this determination include: (1) the age, maturity, intelligence, education, and experience of the defendant; (2) the ability of the defendant to comprehend; (3) the lack of or adequacy of warnings; (4) the length and legality of the detention; (5) the nature of the interrogation; (6) whether defendant was deprived of any physical needs; and (7) whether the defendant was denied access to friends. Id.

Upon review, we conclude that application of these factors supports the district court's finding that Lahs's confession was voluntarily given. The only evidence supporting a conclusion that the confession was involuntary is the fact the police lied to Lahs about the evidence they had against him. Regarding this fact, the district court stated:

Notwithstanding this Court's displeasure with the actions of the officers, the defendant's motion should be denied pursuant to the guidelines established by appellate precedent.

We agree.

Minnesota courts have found a defendant's confession to be voluntary despite the fact that he was lied to by police about the evidence against him. In State v. Barner, 486 N.W.2d 1 (Minn. App. 1992), we specifically addressed the issue of whether a lie alone could make a confession involuntary. In that case, the defendant was arrested for attempted murder. After some discussion the police officer falsely told the defendant his fingerprints had been found on the attack weapon and the defendant confessed. The district court suppressed the confession based on language in State v. C.J.M, 409 N.W.2d 857 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Sept. 18, 1987), that suggested we might reexamine "a conviction based upon the sole ground of dishonesty, without the additional factor of coercive interview techniques." Id. at 861. This court reversed the district court, stating that "the police lie did not make it necessary to suppress the confession." Barner, 486 N.W.2d at 2. In so holding, we cited the United States Supreme Court's statement:

The questioning was of short duration, and petitioner was a mature individual of normal intelligence. The fact that the police misrepresented the statements that [codefendant] had made is, while relevant, insufficient in our view to make this otherwise voluntary confession inadmissible. These cases must be decided by viewing the "totality of the circumstances," and on the facts of this case we can find no error in the admission of petitioner's confession.

Id. (quoting Frazier v. Cupp, 394 U.S. 731, 739, 89 S. Ct. 1420, 1425 (1969)).

The Minnesota Supreme Court reached a similar conclusion in Thaggard, which involved a defendant who, along with another man, was accused of rape. After a police officer falsely told the defendant that the other man had confessed to participating in the rape, the defendant confessed. Thaggard, 527 N.W.2d at 806. In determining that the police dishonesty did not make the defendant's confession involuntary, the supreme court stated:

Subsequent decisions of the [United States Supreme] Court confirm our understanding that the use of trickery and deception is to be considered along with all the other relevant factors in determining if a confession was involuntary, and that lying to a suspect as to the strength of the state's case against him generally is not by itself enough to render a confession involuntary. * * *

We are not prepared at this time to abandon the totality of the circumstances approach, but we caution police that they proceed on thin ice and at their own risk when they use deception of the sort used in this case.

Id. at 810.

Appellate precedent is clear. While courts frown upon the police use of dishonesty to elicit confessions and have stated that such tactics invite suppression, dishonesty alone does not require suppression. The totality of the circumstances must be considered in deciding whether statements made by a defendant were voluntarily given. Here, considering the totality of the circumstances, we conclude the district court properly determined Lahs's statements were voluntary.