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Colorado Clergy-Communicant Laws – Can I Tell My Priest, Pastor, Clergy The Truth? – 13-90-107

 by H. Michael Steinberg – Colorado Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer

Colorado Clergy-Communicant Laws - Can I Tell My Priest, Pastor, Clergy The Truth? - 13-90-107


Colorado Clergy-Communicant Laws – Can I Tell My Priest, Pastor, Clergy The Truth? – 13-90-107

Colorado Clergy – Penitent Laws – Can I Tell My Priest, Pastor, Clergy The Truth? – 13-90-107. The laws governing the admission of evidence in Colorado criminal trials are complex. Among those laws are rules that apply to communications within so called “special relationships.” These “privileges” prohibit the admission at trial of communications between lawyers and clients, doctors and patients, married people, and … clergy – communicants.

This article looks at when the accused in a Colorado criminal case can rely on the confidentiality of these communications and when he or she cannot…

When You Cannot Rely On The Confidentiality Of Your Secrets Revealed To Clergy

Before statements made to a chaplain, minister, priest or rabbi.. are confidential – the following factors apply:

The communication must be:

(1) made to a clergy member, minister, priest, or rabbi;

(2) confidential;

(3) made to the clergy member, minister, priest, or rabbi in his or her professional capacity; and

(4) made in the course of discipline expected by the religious body to which the clergy member, minister, priest, or rabbi belongs.

A statement is not “confidential” when it is made in the presence of a third party – such as a police officer.

The Clergy-Communicant Privilege In The Hospital While In Custody

In one recent (2014) Colorado case the Defendant contended that the statements he made to the hospital chaplain were privileged under the clergy-communicant privilege.

The Colorado court of appeals held that – after applying the clergy-communicant privilege found in Colorado statute. § 13-90-107- there were no privileged communications.

When the law is applied – when the statutory conditions are met, a privilege operates to protect confidential communications between a clergy member and a person who seeks his or her guidance.

The Law – Section 13-90-107(1)(c) – Specifically Provides As Follows:

A clergy member, minister, priest, or rabbi shall not be examined without both his or her consent and also the consent of the person making the confidential communication as to any confidential communication made to him or her in his or her professional capacity in the course of discipline expected by the religious body to which he or she belongs.

This law provides for the four requirements that must be satisfied for the privilege to bar revelation of the communication at trial without consent of both the clergy member and the communicant.

As noted above – the communication must be: (1) made to a clergy member, minister, priest, or rabbi; (2) confidential; (3) made to the clergy member, minister, priest, or rabbi in his or her professional capacity; and (4) made in the course of discipline expected by the religious body to which the clergy member, minister, priest, or rabbi belongs.

The law does not define what is – or is not a “confidential communication.” But cases that have interpreted the law have found that the presence of another party during the communication – destroys the confidential nature of the communication.

Here are some examples:

The presence of a security officer during confession to a crime by a prisoner to a prison chaplain destroyed confidentiality.

Statements made by the defendant to a detective who was also a deacon of a church were not confidential as the statements were made in the presence of both the defendant’s aunt and his brother. (The only exception is a third party that is “essential to the communication” such as an interpreter.)

A conversation between a defendant and a clergy member, held in the presence of a church elder who was not a clergy member, is not confidential.

BUT conversations between a defendant and ministers, held in hospital hallway, reception room, and waiting room, apart from others, ARE private and constituted privileged clergy-communicant statements.

A Reasonable Expectation Of Privacy

In the context of lawyer-client “confidential communications” which have the same issues as in this context – if a communication is made under circumstances giving rise to a reasonable expectation that the communication will be treated as confidential – it will remain so. There must be some “intention of secrecy.” The communication must be private or secret.

Conclusion – Colorado Clergy-Communicant Laws – Can I Tell My Priest, Pastor, Clergy The Truth? – 13-90-107

A communication is not confidential if there is no evidence that the communication was made to a clergyman or woman while he or she is acting in the course of the discipline expected by his or her religious body.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author at hmsteinberg@hotmail.com – A Denver Colorado Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-220-2277.

If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about the topic of this article –Colorado Clergy-Communicant Laws – Can I Tell My Priest, Pastor, Clergy The Truth? – 13-90-107, please call our office. The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue.

Colorado Sex Crimes LawyerH. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom experience – specializing in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range. He will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options. Remember, it costs NOTHING to discuss your case. Call now for an immediate free phone consultation.

 

Helping Clients To Make Informed Decisions In the Defense of Colorado Criminal Cases.

Contact A Lawyer with Three Decades of Experience as a Denver Criminal Attorney at The Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm today.

Colorado Defense Lawyer H. Michael Steinberg provides solid criminal defense for clients throughout the Front Range of Colorado – including the City and County courts of Adams County, Arapahoe County, City and County of Boulder, City and County of Broomfield, City and County of Denver, Douglas County, El Paso County – Colorado Springs, Gilpin County, Jefferson County, Larimer County, and Weld County,…. and all the other cities and counties of Colorado along the I-25 Corridor… on cases involving the subject of this article -Colorado Clergy-Communicant Laws – Can I Tell My Priest, Pastor, Clergy The Truth? – 13-90-107. 


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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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