Confessions, like other documents in the custody or control of law enforcement or other public officials, may be disclosable pursuant to the state Public Records Act, but as a practical matter will most likely be obtained from court records when they are filed in connection with filed criminal cases because until they are filed, or the case is closed, it is most likely that a confession may be exempt from disclosure under one of the provisions of AS 40.25.120(a)(6), especially (a)(6)(A), that production of these records could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings, or perhaps that disclosure could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of a suspect, defendant, victim, or witness, (6)(C).
There is no statutory or case law that directly addresses confessions. However, because the only records that qualify for the open-investigation exception are documents that are investigative in nature, Hengel v. City of Pine Bluff, 307 Ark. 457, 821 S.W.2d 761 (1991), a confession contained in a document that is subject to disclosure, such as an arrest report, probably would not be exempt from the FOIA.
May be withheld at agency’s discretion under Section 6254(f) of the CPRA if compiled for correctional or law enforcement purposes. However, once introduced in evidence in a criminal proceeding, public access to the information is presumed absent a constitutional showing justifying its sealing. Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(f).
A videotaped confession is not required to be available for public inspection and copying as disclosure during the investigation of the crime would frustrate the investigative function of the police department. Video-Taped Confession in Homicide Investigation, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 90-18 (May 18, 1990).
Confessions are not specifically addressed in the Idaho open records statutes. In practice, most law enforcement agencies and prosecutors consider confessions to be “investigative records” and therefore exempt from disclosure, unless and until the confession is filed with the court or introduced in open court. Whether that interpretation would withstand a court challenge is an open question.
Under Indiana Code § 5-14-3-4(b)(1), access to investigatory records of law enforcement agencies may be provided or denied at the agency’s discretion. If the confession is admitted as evidence at a court hearing or trial, the public is entitled to access under the First Amendment and common law rights of access to judicial records. See State ex re. Post-Tribune Pub. Co. v. Porter Superior Ct., 412 N.E.2d 748, 751 (Ind. 1980). See also, Ind. Admin. R. 9.
Effective July 1, 2017, law enforcement agencies are required to make electronic recordings of certain interrogations, including the “entire custodial interrogation at a place of detention when the interrogation concerns a homicide or a felony sex offense.” K.S.A. 22-4620(e)(1). However, “[e]very electronic recording of any statement as required by this section shall be confidential and exempt from the Kansas open records act in accordance with K.S.A. 45-229, and amendments thereto.” K.S.A. 22-4620(g).
A confession that has been admitted into evidence is accessible to the public. See New Jersey Court Rules 1:38-1 et seq. Prior to being admitted into evidence in a court proceeding, a confession is part of a criminal investigatory file and is exempt from the definition of “government record” under OPRA.
Law enforcement records are public unless the requested records reveal confidential sources, information or individuals accused but not charged with a crime. NMSA 1978 § 14-2-1(A)(4). Confessions may not be public if they reveal confidential sources or information.
There appears to be no Utah statute governing access to confessions, although law enforcement agencies may withhold confessions if release would interfere with an ongoing investigation. See Utah Code § 63G-2-305(10)(a).