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Colorado changing rules regarding confessions of guilt

A Colorado man was convicted of sexual assault based upon a confession that he made. However, this individual's confession was overturned by an appeals court because prosecutors will unable to prove that his confession was trustworthy. The Colorado Supreme Court refused to reverse the court of appeals ruling.

This conviction was thrown out based upon a rule that has been in force in Colorado for over 100 years that more than just a confession is needed to bring a conviction. Obviously, the purpose behind the rule is to make sure that any confession to a crime made was not coerced or in violation of the accused individual's rights. However, soon it appears that such a rule will no longer be in force and a confession alone may soon be enough to convict.

Confessions by individuals charged with crimes are not always voluntary. Individuals may be subjected to threats by arresting officers or prosecutors that they will face an even stiffer penalty if they do not confess. Sometimes they are subjected to long hours of interrogation and no longer can appreciate the consequences of what they are saying. And often they do not have a criminal defense attorney present to advise them on the consequences of making such a confession.

Though these sorts of circumstances may be the exception rather than the rule, we do know that coerced confessions have occurred in the past. Police officers and investigators may be under pressure themselves to resolve a particular crime, and often they will take shortcuts in getting suspects to make a confession - whether the confession is true or false.

Anyone accused of sexual assault or other serious crime should always consult with an attorney before answering the questions of police officers or signing any particular statement. It helps no one to have someone confess to a crime they did not commit. If nothing else, such a confession will allow the real perpetrator of an alleged crime to remain free.

Source: The Gazette, "Colo. Supreme Court abandons requiring crime proof," Jan. 14, 2013

  • The accusation of a sex crime may bring a stigma that will never go away. Please contact our Denver attorneys with any concerns about such accusations.

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