In a decision sure to impact many cases pending in the court system today, the Colorado Supreme Court has done away with the corpus delicti rule. This rule required the prosecution to use more than just a defendant’s confession to prove that a crime occurred; that is, if all the prosecution had was the defendant’s confession, that would not be enough to proceed.
The decision instead articulates a trustworthiness standard, requiring the prosecution to present evidence that proves that a confession is trustworthy or reliable. Trustworthiness is established by one of the following means: 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.
As a Denver criminal defense attorney, I have successfully argued for the dismissal of several cases based upon the previously existing corpus delicti doctrine. The good news is that in cases where trustworthiness cannot be established, the prosecution will not be able to proceed in terms of their reliance on a defendant’s confession.