How a Denver Attorney can keep out Statements in Drug Cases

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When you are facing Drug Charges in Denver Colorado, it is important to discuss statements from co-defendants with your criminal defense attorney. One of the standard procedures in these drug cases with co-defendants is for your attorney to attempt to suppress any statements on the basis that you cannot cross-examine the person who made the statement. In Federal law, this issue has been thoroughly discussed and typically results in either a severance of the defendant’s case into separate cases or the suppression of the evidence. Here are some examples from the case law:

  • the Supreme Court held that “a defendant is deprived of his Sixth Amendment right of confrontation when the facially incriminating confession of a nontestifying codefendant is introduced at their joint trial, even if the jury is instructed to consider the confession only against the codefendant.” Scott v. Fisher
  • It is clear that the use of a codefendant’s confession against another defendant at a joint trial is restricted. Williams v. Washington
  • recognizing that the admission of a codefendant’s confession that inculpates a joint defendant denies the defendant his Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. Moore v. Casperson
  • The Supreme Court held that “because of the substantial risk that the jury, despite instructions to the contrary, looked to the incriminating extrajudicial statements in determining [Bruton’s] guilt, admission of [the co-defendant’s] confession in this joint trial violated [Bruton’s] right of cross-examination secured by the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment.” United States v. Sutton
  • the Supreme Court held that admission of incriminating out of court statements by one defendant which implicate a codefendant violate the latter’s confrontation clause rights. US v. Boone
  • “[E] vidence of the confession of a co-defendant implicating a defendant cannot be admitted against that defendant at a joint trial where the co-defendant does not take the stand and is not available for cross-examination. Williams v. State
  • holding that admission of confession directly inculpating codefendant in joint trial violated codefendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment. McCullough v. Filion
  • The Court observed that when a defendant is directly implicated by his codefendant, and those “powerfully incriminating” statements are introduced before the jury in a joint trial, the “risk that the jury will not or cannot follow instructions is so great and the consequences of failure so vital to the defendant” that they cannot be ignored. State v. Craney

As you can see from these quotes from appellate judges, there is substantial law stating that codefendant’s statements should not be used against a defendant unless the defendant has the opportunity to cross-examine the co-defendant.

It should be noted that there is occasionally the need to act quickly in these circumstances because the prosecutor will seek to enter into pleas with the people whose statements he needs. These pleas will typically contain a provision that the co-defendant testify against the other defendants. Then, once the plea has been entered, the prosecutor will be able to call the co-defendant to the stand. Because of this risk, it is very important to talk to your Denver Drug Attorney to discuss the likelihood that individuals will enter pleas and talk.

It is also important that your Denver Criminal Defense Lawyer file a motion with the court, asking the court to require the prosecution to reveal any details of the plea agreements with other co-defendants. This is important evidence because it can be used at trial to establish that the person is testifying to get the benefit of a deal rather than to establish the truth.

The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as the creation of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney.

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Nathaniel has worked in criminal law on both sides of the aisle spending time working for the prosecution as well as the defense. Most recently Nathaniel has represented individuals in violent felonies and drug cases. Prior to this work, Nathaniel handled DWIs, Domestic Violence Cases, Property Crimes, and White Collar Crimes. On the prosecutorial side, Nathaniel has most notably worked in Bosnia helping to prosecute individuals who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Bosnian War from 1993-1995. In particular, Nathaniel helped in the prosecution of military leaders who arranged for the organized murders and rapes of innocent civilians in various towns in Bosnia. Nathaniel is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Northwestern University, and Phillips Exeter Academy. Google Profile: Nathaniel Baca