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Court to rule on criminal defense issue involving Miranda rights

Miranda rights protect individuals from incriminating themselves in police interviews and interrogations following an arrest. These rights must be recited to individuals upon arrest to ensure they understand that they do not need to answer any questions. Currently, a criminal defense dispute in Colorado regarding Miranda rights is making its way to the state Supreme Court.

The question before the Colorado Supreme Court is this: Can a person who commits a crime, such as lying to the police, during an interview for another crime be held criminally responsible for this new crime, or does this cross a self-incrimination boundary? The question was raised from a case involving a domestic dispute. When questioned by police, the individual involved gave a fake name and date of birth. He was later found guilty of criminal impersonation and false reporting to the police.

The questions about name and date of birth were asked prior to an arrest and were considered "routine booking questions." Police are not permitted to seek incriminating information during routine booking, therefore Miranda rights do not come into play during this type of questioning. However, in this case, the suspect lied to the police and was held criminally responsible for those answers. The Supreme Court must now rule on whether a suspect providing incriminating evidence for a "new crime" during an interview for another crime is protected under Miranda laws.

The "new crime exception" has been a criminal defense debate in other states, although this is its first instance in Colorado. One notable instance in another state involved an individual saying he would kill the president during a custodial interrogation, then being charged with making that threat. Individuals who are charged with a crime and are wondering whether their Miranda rights were violated should speak with a criminal defense lawyer about their circumstances and possible remedies.

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