May 19, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Defendant’s Miranda Waiver Effectively Waived his Right to Counsel Under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Luna-Solis on Monday, April 8, 2013.

Interlocutory Appeal—Discovery Violations—Suppression.

The People filed an interlocutory appeal pursuant to CRS § 16-12-102(2) and CAR 4.1, as well as a petition pursuant to CAR 21, seeking relief from a district court order suppressing statements made by defendant and excluding DNA evidence. Although the district court found that the statements in question were voluntary and were made after an effective waiver of Miranda rights, it suppressed them on the ground that the Sixth Amendment barred the Denver police from questioning defendant about this ongoing Arapahoe County prosecution unless his counsel in the case were present. The district court also excluded DNA evidence collected by the Denver police in the execution of a Crim.P. 41.1 order of the Denver County Court, on the ground that they sought the order, at least in part, for the benefit of the prosecution in this case.

The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because defendant’s Miranda waiver effectively waived his right to counsel as guaranteed by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, the district court erred in suppressing statements as a violation of defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Furthermore, because Crim.P 16 II imposes disclosure obligations on criminal defendants without simultaneously barring the use of evidence acquired through otherwise lawful investigation, the district court erred in finding a discovery violation and excluding DNA evidence.

Summary and full case available here.

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