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The Corpus Delicti Rule


The State must produce independent evidence to establish the corpus delicti of the crime before a confession is admissible in court. Corpus delicti is Latin for the body of the crime. In court, it means the foundation or material substance of a crime. For example, the charred remains of a house would be the corpus delicti for the crime of arson.

In Shinnock v. State, the defendant’s confession to bestiality was determined inadmissible because the State did not establish the corpus delicti of the crime. The defendant admitted to his roommate and the police that he had sex with his roommate’s dog. At trial, the defendant properly objected to admitting his confession because the State failed to provide evidence independent of the defendant’s confession to show he actually had sex with the dog. The roommate’s observations upon returning home of the dog’s behavior of running out of the defendant’s bedroom and hiding under the couch and the defendant’s state of arousal was determined not sufficient to establish the corpus delicti. Without the confession, the Court of Appeals reversed the conviction.

With over 33 years of handling thousands of criminal cases, Steven Knecht is familiar with the possible defenses to criminal charges. If you find yourself having been arrested, you should immediately hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer that you can trust such as Steven Knecht to help you fight the State because you have a lot at stake on the outcome.

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