May 19, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Court Abandons Corpus Delecti Doctrine in Favor of Trustworthiness Standard

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. LaRosa on Monday, January 14, 2013.

Corpus Delicti Rule—Trustworthiness Standard—Due Process.

The Supreme Court abandoned the corpus delicti rule, which requires the prosecution to prove that a crime occurred using evidence other than a defendant’s confession. In its place, the Court articulated the trustworthiness standard, which requires the prosecution to present evidence that proves that a confession is trustworthy or reliable. To determine whether corroborating evidence proves the trustworthiness or reliability of a confession, the Court held that the trial court must find that corroboration exists from one or more of the following evidentiary sources: facts that corroborate facts contained in the confession; facts that establish the crime that corroborate facts contained in the confession; or facts under which the confession was made that show that the confession is trustworthy or reliable. Because the corpus delicti rule has been consistently applied for more than 100 years, the Court held that applying the trustworthiness standard here would violate LaRosa’s due process rights. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the court of appeals’ decision reversing LaRosa’s convictions under the corpus delicti rule.

Summary and full case available here.

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