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CO – COURTS – Miranda warning not necessary to ask about guns, Colorado Supreme Court rules

An officer was correct to ask a suspect in custody “Where’s the gun?” without giving a Miranda warning first, as the question was allowed under a public safety exception to the legal notification, the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled. Law enforcement personnel who intend to interrogate a suspect in custody must provide a Miranda warning, named for the 1966 decision in Miranda v. Arizona, about their right to an attorney and against self-incrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1984 first recognized a “public safety” exception to the rule, in which the need to protect people from immediate danger could outweigh the suspect’s constitutional rights. “The legal standard has been and remains whether, under the totality of the circumstances, the officer’s questioning relates to an objectively reasonable need to protect the public from the immediate danger associated with a weapon,” wrote Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright for Colorado’s court in an opinion issued on Tuesday. Tim Lane, legislative liaison and policy analyst with the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council, agreed that the “right to remain silent and the expectation that officers recite Miranda warnings is an important part of our individual rights. But, like all constitutional rights, it is subject to certain reasonable exceptions.”  [full article]

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