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Colorado v. Spring


The defendant killed a person named Walker in Colorado. Thereafter, an informant told ATF agents that the defendant was engaged in the interstate transportation of stolen firearms, and that the defendant had discussed his participation in the Colorado killing. Based on this information, ATF agents set up an undercover purchase of firearms from the defendant. After the purchase was made, the agents arrested the defendant and advised him of his rights. The defendant waived his Miranda rights and the agents questioned him about the firearms transactions. They also asked him about the Colorado murder. The defendant stated that he had “shot another guy once.” When asked if the defendant had shot a man named Walker, the defendant said “no.” Sometime later, state officers read the defendant his Miranda rights. After he waived these rights he confessed to the Colorado murder.


Whether a suspect must be advised of all the subjects about which he will be questioned in order to make a valid waiver of his Miranda rights?


No. The purpose of reading Miranda rights is to ensure the defendant does not feel compelled to make any statement.


A suspect’s awareness of all the crimes about which he could be questioned is not relevant in determining the validity of the decision to waive his rights. The Court is only interested in whether the suspect waived his or her Miranda rights in a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent manner. The Court set out a two-part test to determine if a waiver was obtained through coercion: (1) whether the defendant relinquished the right voluntarily, and (2) if it was given with full awareness of the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it.


479 U.S. 564, 107 S. Ct. 851 (1987)

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