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People v. Padilla Jr.

2021 CO 18. No. 20SA336. Criminal Law—Miranda—Custody.

March 22, 2021


Two detectives interrogated defendant about a sexual assault allegation without providing Miranda warnings. During that conversation, defendant stated that he did not have a sexual encounter with the alleged victim and that the alleged victim was intoxicated during the incident in question. Defendant was later charged with two counts of sexual assault. Before trial, he moved to suppress the statements, arguing that they were obtained in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The district court granted the motion, finding that defendant was subjected to custodial interrogation without the required Miranda warnings.

The Supreme Court independently reviewed the audio-recorded interrogation—while deferring to the district court’s findings outside the bounds of the recording—and determined that defendant was not in custody for Miranda purposes. Applying the factors from People v. Matheny, 46 P.3d 453 (Colo. 2002), the Court concluded that, under the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable person in defendant’s position would not believe that his freedom of action was curtailed to a degree associated with formal arrest. Defendant set the length of the interrogation and the detectives deferred to his terms; the detectives remained nonconfrontational and allowed defendant to discuss matters unrelated to the allegation for a significant amount of time; and the tone and mood of the interrogation was casual.

The order was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

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