The Colorado Supreme Court recently made a significant change to rules regarding how confessions are treated in criminal proceedings. Prosecutors once needed to provide proof that a crime had occurred in addition to the confession. However, now that will not be necessary if the court finds the confession to be trustworthy.
In future criminal cases, the definition of a “trustworthy” confession may be hotly contested. If prosecutors can rely solely on a confession to secure a conviction, criminal defendants and their attorneys will likely need to take extra care when considering confessions and the circumstances under which they were made.
One interesting issue in this case is the people to whom the man confessed: in addition to the police, he told his wife, mother and pastor about the sex assault. Spousal and clergy relationships are typically considered to be privileged, which means they can’t be used in court.
There are several other issues that can lead to a confession being questioned or thrown out of evidence. If law enforcement officials coerce or intimidate a defendant to secure a confession it can usually be thrown out of evidence. Similarly, if officers fail to advise a defendant of his or her right to remain silent before they start questioning, the confession may be invalid.
If you are facing criminal charges it is important to act quickly to ensure that you can protect your rights and defend your interests in or out of the courtroom. Consider speaking with a qualified criminal defense attorney who can fight for you.
Source: CBS Denver, “Colorado High Court Rules on Trustworthy Confessions,” Jan. 14, 2013
To learn more about criminal rights in Colorado, please visit our website.