People v. Algien

In People v. Algien, 180 Colo. 1, 501 P.2d 468 (Colo. 1972), a security guard of an apartment complex under construction, which was completely destroyed by fire, was given a "lie detector test," focusing on his potential involvement in that fire. Id. at 469. The investigating officers suggested that the security guards in charge of watching the complex "be given lie detector tests," and the owner of the security service employed by the complex requested that they do so. Id. One of the security guards and eventual suspect, Algien, initially agreed to take the test but then changed his mind. Id. But, after his employer made it clear that his job would be in jeopardy if he did not take the test, he agreed to do so. Id. at 469-70. When the officer who administered the test confronted Algien with the results, which "indicated that he was untruthful," he confessed, after a lengthy discussion, to burning down the complex. Id. Only then was he informed of his rights, after which he signed a written confession. Id. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's suppression of the statement on the grounds that, once Algien was told by the officer that he was not telling the truth, he "was significantly deprived of his freedom." Id. at 471. The Colorado state court considered the surrounding circumstances and stated: The test was given three times, and at the conclusion Algien was confronted with the officer's opinion that he was untruthful and that he had set the fire. Under such compelling circumstances, a reasonable person would with logic conclude that he could not leave the premises of his own free will but would be detained for formal arrest. Id.