Archive for the ‘ Criminal Defense ’ Category

Colorado’s Bail System

Posted on: March 15, 2018 by in Criminal Defense
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Bill SB967

In the face of a jail overcrowding crisis, several Colorado judges are easing the overcrowding by abolishing the requirement that criminal defendants must pay a cash bond prior to trial.

If you’re charged with a crime in the Denver area, will you have to pay a cash bond for your freedom – even if you’re innocent?

Several judges were swayed by a recent Texas ruling which held that keeping defendants in jail prior to any conviction – solely because they cannot afford bail – is unconstitutional.

Other judges are saying there is no actual evidence that cash bonds ensure defendants will return for court appearances.

And in March, the chief justice of Colorado’s Supreme Court announced the formation of a commission to study Colorado’s pretrial procedures – including cash bonds.


The rejection of cash bonds by Colorado judges is part of a larger, national trend to reform the way defendants are treated before trial.

If you are accused of a crime, bail is the amount you must pay – along with a promise to appear for your next scheduled court date – to get released from custody.

As you know, defendants in criminal cases are supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Historically, however, that principle has rarely been put into actual practice.


Aurora Municipal Court Judge Shawn Day told Colorado Public Radio (CPR), “You can’t set a bond amount that a person can’t post. You can’t treat someone with money differently than someone who doesn’t have money.”

Day cited a federal judge’s ruling in a 2017 case from Texas. The judge threw out an entire county’s bail system because it was unfairly impacting the poor – a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

Judge Day added, “I think this is what the law requires and that all judges and all courts should follow the law.”

Linda Cooke, the presiding judge for the Boulder Municipal Court, has also been eliminating cash bonds, along with several other Colorado judges – but only for defendants who pose no threat to the public.


Mesa County prosecutor Bo Zeerip said the number of defendants in Grand Junction released on “personal recognizance” or no-money bonds has doubled since 2011.

He told CPR, “You’re not allowed to, or you shouldn’t, impose any conditions on people for purposes of punishment because they haven’t been convicted yet.”

However, many Colorado judges are still concerned about compelling defendants to appear in court. Especially in the Denver-area courts, the failure-to-appear rate is high.

Judge Corinne Magid, for example, has mostly eliminated cash bonds, but she insists that some defendants must be compelled to appear in court.

Judge Magid told CPR, “It might be their eighth failure to appear, there has to be some sort of consequence … what else are we going to do?”


ACLU of Colorado staff attorney Rebecca Wallace has found no evidence that cash bonds motivate defendants to appear in court. She said something like a text or a phone call actually works better.

She explains, “Most people who miss a court date haven’t fled the jurisdiction. They’ve misplaced the summons or they didn’t put it on their calendar. Or they don’t have a calendar.”

State Representative Pete Lee (D-El Paso County) is proposing a pilot program to let some courts text reminders about court appearances to defendants.

The pilot program would give lawmakers the hard data they need to determine if text reminders alone can reduce the number of failures-to-appear.


In March, Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Rice announced the creation of a commission to study cash bonds and other facets of the state’s pretrial procedures.

Chief Justice Rice told the Associated Press that the commission will propose recommended changes after reviewing bail and bond procedures.

Concern over disparities in the Colorado criminal justice system have been increasing in recent years.

In 2016, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock wrote in the Denver Post, “the time is ripe for change in our criminal justice system.” He insisted that Colorado must end “mass incarceration.”


What are the numbers? The number of persons in custody in the U.S., about 500,000 in 1980, had more than quadrupled – to 2.3 million – by 2008.

And Colorado prosecutors filed over 15,200 felony drug cases in 2017, more than double the number of felony drug cases filed in the state in 2012.

Anyone arrested and charged with a crime in the Denver area must speak immediately with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney.

Your defense lawyer will work to have your bail lowered or to have you released on your own recognizance. Then your attorney will fight aggressively for justice on your behalf.


Colorado is not the only state reforming its criminal justice system. In 2014, California reclassified felonies like shoplifting, theft, and check fraud as misdemeanors.

And in New York City, most defendants charged with non-violent crimes now post no bail as the city attempts to reduce its inmate population.

No one, however, should think that bail reform means lax enforcement of the law. If you are charged with a crime in the Denver area, you must have the help of an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney.

If you are accused of a crime, bail is the amount you must pay – along with a promise to appear for your next court date – to get released from custody.

At a bail hearing in Colorado, a defendant and his or her lawyer may ask the court to lower the bail amount or to release the defendant on his or her own recognizance.


Colorado judges have the discretion to set, eliminate, modify, or deny a defendant’s bail.

When deciding a bail amount, a judge will take into account the details of the criminal charge, the suspect’s criminal history, the public’s safety, and the likelihood that the suspect will appear or fail to appear in court if released.

Everyone charged with a crime has the right to an attorney. If you are charged with a crime in Colorado, exercise that right – do not try to act as your own lawyer. Too much is at stake.

A good criminal defense lawyer can provide sound legal advice regarding bail options, defense strategies, and the other challenges anyone will face after being arrested.

If you are charged with a crime in Colorado, you must obtain a good lawyer’s advice and representation – immediately.

The Different Degrees of Assault in Colorado

Posted on: February 15, 2018 by in Criminal Defense
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Colorado recognizes three “degrees” of assault, but every assault is considered a serious crime in this state. You’re about to learn what constitutes assault and how it’s punished in Colorado.

It’s a little more complicated than you might think.

For starters, an assault charge in this state may or may not be accompanied by a battery charge. These are distinct crimes in Colorado.


Battery – or “menacing” – is intentionally causing someone to fear immediate bodily injury.

Assault, however, is when someone actually and intentionally causes bodily injury to another.

In Colorado, assaults are charged as first-, second-, or third-degree assaults. First- and second-degree assaults are felonies (“aggravated” assaults), and third-degree assaults are “extra risk” misdemeanors.

Here’s a brief look at the different degrees of assault as spelled out by Colorado law:


First-degree assault may be charged in these three circumstances:

1. Someone intentionally causes serious bodily injury, disability, or disfigurement to another person.

2. Someone acts with indifference to human life, creates a serious risk of death, and thus causes serious bodily injury, disability, or disfigurement to another person.

3. Someone threatens, with a deadly weapon, a peace officer, a firefighter, a prison employee, or another “protected” employee as that person performs his or her duties.

In most of these cases, Colorado classifies first-degree assault as a crime of violence and as a Class Three felony punishable upon conviction by a minimum six-year prison term.

But if a defendant can prove that he or she committed assault “in the heat of passion,” the charge becomes a Class Five felony punishable upon conviction by a minimum of two years in prison.


The distinction between second-degree assault and first-degree assault is that second-degree assault addresses “bodily injury” while first-degree assault addresses “serious bodily injury.”

Second-degree assault may be charged in any of these four circumstances:

1. Someone intentionally or recklessly causes bodily injury to someone else by using a deadly weapon.

2. Someone causes bodily injury to someone else while interfering with a peace officer, firefighter, prison employee, or another protected employee performing his or her duties.

3. Someone administers to another person a drug without that person’s consent in order to cause unconsciousness, stupor, other impairment, or bodily injury.

4. Someone causes a detention staffer to come into contact with blood, urine, feces, vomit, or any other toxic material, by any means, while lawfully detained in a detention center.

In most of these cases, Colorado classifies second-degree assault as a violent crime and as a Class Four felony punishable upon conviction by a minimum four-year prison term.

But if a judge decides that the assault was committed in the heat of passion, the charge becomes a Class Six felony punishable upon conviction by a minimum of fifteen months in prison.


Third-degree assault is a Class One “extra risk” misdemeanor in the state of Colorado. It is typically charged in these two circumstances:

1. Someone intentionally or recklessly causes bodily injury to someone else by using a deadly weapon.

2. Someone intentionally annoys, harasses, threatens, or causes bodily injury to a peace officer, a firefighter, or another protected individual by using a dangerous chemical or substance.

Class One misdemeanors in Colorado are divided into two subcategories: “simple” misdemeanors and “extra risk” misdemeanors.

A conviction for a Class One extra risk misdemeanor in Colorado is punishable by six months to two years behind bars.


As you’ve read, many of the actions that are considered assault in Colorado involve the use of a deadly weapon. But precisely what is the legal definition of a “deadly weapon” in Colorado?

Colorado law defines a deadly weapon as a “firearm, whether loaded or unloaded” or as a “knife, bludgeon, or any other weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance … capable of producing death or serious bodily injury.”


“Bodily injury” under Colorado law may include physical injury or pain, illness, or any mental or physical impairment.

“Serious bodily injury” may be any injury that poses a considerable risk of death, disfigurement, or the protracted impairment or loss of any body part, organ, or function.

Broken bones, burn injuries, and fractures also constitute serious bodily injury.


First-, second-, and third-degree assault are not the only assault crimes on the books in Colorado. Vehicular assault is also a felony that can be charged in two circumstances in this state:

1. if someone drives in a reckless manner or under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs

2. if someone’s driving causes serious bodily injury to another person

Vehicular assault involving reckless driving is a Class Five felony punishable upon conviction by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Vehicular assault caused by driving under the influence is a Class Four felony punishable upon conviction by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.


As you’ve realized if you’ve read this far, the assault laws in the state of Colorado are complicated, detailed, and often somewhat confusing.

And the criminal penalties are not the only potential penalties for assault. In cases that involve bodily injury, the civil side of the law must also be considered.

An injured assault victim can initiate a personal injury lawsuit and seek compensation from the defendant for medical costs, lost wages, pain, suffering, and all other injury-related damages.

If a defendant is convicted of assault, that conviction will very likely be considered conclusive evidence in a civil personal injury trial.


If you are charged with any assault crime in the greater Denver area or anywhere in Colorado, it is imperative to contact an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible.

After reviewing the evidence and explaining your legal rights and options, your attorney will protect your rights and interests while advocating aggressively in your defense.

Depending on the details of the assault charge, your lawyer may try to have the case dismissed, may recommend that you accept a plea bargain, or may recommend taking your case to trial.


If you are charged with assault, don’t assume that you’ll be convicted. You may have been misidentified, or you may have acted in self-defense, or the accusation itself could be fabricated.

An experienced Denver criminal defense attorney will find the truth and bring your assault case to its best possible conclusion.

If you are charged with assault in Colorado, get the legal help you need. You have that right.

How Does Restitution Work in Colorado

Posted on: September 18, 2017 by in Criminal Defense
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When a court orders a convicted criminal offender to pay the offender’s victim or victims for losses sustained because of the crime, that payment is called “restitution.” All fifty states have established some type of procedure for restitution payments.

The functions and legal definitions of “restitution” and “compensation” are slightly different.

Compensation is a payment for losses, such as payment for damages after a car accident, whether or not the person making the payment gained anything. Restitution, on the other hand, is the giving-up of the gains acquired in a crime.

A restitution payment is also somewhat different from a fine.

A fine is a predetermined amount spelled out by Colorado law and paid to the court – not to the crime victim or victims – as a criminal punishment.

If you’ve been charged with committing a crime in Colorado – and especially if the charge is for a crime such as theft, robbery, fraud, or embezzlement – it is imperative to understand how restitution works in this state.

When a defendant in Colorado makes any type of plea bargain or sentencing agreement with the prosecution, and when that agreement includes restitution, the failure to pay can be used in Colorado to revoke the plea bargain or agreement.

If you’ve been arrested in Colorado for any crime, you must take your case to a skilled Denver criminal defense attorney who can explain your rights, your legal options, and the sentencing possibilities you will face.


How does restitution work in Colorado?

How is it determined, ordered, collected, and distributed to crime victims? After criminal charges are filed, a district attorney’s Victim/Witness Assistance Unit contacts all known victims of the crime and asks them to complete a restitution affidavit and provide detailed information regarding their losses.

The affidavits are processed and the district attorney’s office then files a motion with the criminal court for an order of restitution.

Before a final criminal sentence is handed down, the Probation Department compiles a pre-sentence investigation report (PSIR) with details about the offender’s criminal record, the pending conviction, the effect of the crime on the victim or victims, and the total amount of the restitution that is owed.

Victims are asked to complete a victim impact statement.

A PSIR, including the completed victim impact statement, is then sent to the judge for his or her consideration.

When a judge orders restitution, the restitution order is included as part of the final sentence. Restitution is paid through the clerk of the court.

In Colorado cases where offenders are sentenced to both a term of probation and the payment of restitution, restitution is almost always a condition of the probation.

While probation officers make sure that the conditions of probation are satisfied, collection investigators in each Colorado jurisdiction establish schedules for restitution payments, monitor those payments, and enforce restitution orders.


In Colorado cases where the offenders are placed in the custody of the Department of Corrections, an individual account is created so that the inmate can designate funds that will be credited toward his or her restitution payments.

Four times a year, the Department of Corrections transfers the money from the inmate’s account to the clerk of the court for distribution to the crime victim or victims.

As a condition of parole in Colorado, inmates who are approved for parole must make (or must have already made) restitution payments.

Parole officers ensure that parolees satisfy the terms and conditions of their parole.

One duty of a parole officer in the state of Colorado is to collect restitution payments from parolees who have been ordered to pay restitution. Parole officers then transfer the collected funds to the clerk of the court.

Colorado offenders who are ordered into community facilities for community corrections must be employed full-time and must turn over their paychecks for processing for restitution payments.

Offenders sign a form which specifies the percentage of each paycheck that will go toward the restitution payment.

The community corrections program then forwards the money collected from each paycheck to the clerk of the court.


To help judges make a decision regarding restitution, the victim impact statement spells out how a crime impacted the victim or victims physically, financially, and emotionally.

The victim impact statement becomes part of the PSIR which the judge receives prior to sentencing, provided that a victim has completed and returned the statement.

To ensure that judges have complete information regarding restitution, some Colorado courts – but not all – delay issuing an order of restitution and schedule a restitution hearing at a later date, after sentencing.

Even when a defendant in Colorado accepts a plea bargain and pleads guilty to a lesser charge in return for a lesser sentence, payment of restitution will probably be required as part of the plea bargain.

Restitution may be ordered for, but not limited to, a crime victim’s monetary losses, medical expenses, counseling costs, anticipated future expenses, and any reward money paid out by a victim or victims.

A victim’s losses that may not be included in a restitution order include losses for pain and suffering, loss of future earnings, and loss of the “enjoyment of life.”

Crime victims should not expect quick restitution payments.

Payments happen over time, especially when the restitution amount is substantial, and payments hinge on the offender’s own financial circumstances, his or her employment status, incarceration status, and a number of other factors.

When offenders who have been ordered to pay restitution fail to make payments in a timely manner, the court can take various measures to obtain payment.

Such measures can include wage garnishments, property liens, and the seizure of income tax refunds, lottery winnings, and other funds. Probation or parole may in some cases be revoked for failure to pay restitution.

In all matters regarding restitution and restitution orders, criminal defendants in Colorado have the right to be represented by a skilled Denver criminal defense attorney.

When a defendant believes that the evidence presented in a restitution matter is false or inaccurate, the defendant has the right to challenge that evidence, and a prosecutor must prove that the restitution total being requested is a proper and just amount.

How To Defend a Gun Charge in Denver

Posted on: August 18, 2017 by in Criminal Defense
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Most of us think of a “weapons charge” as something like an armed robbery charge, and while armed robbery is indeed considered a weapons crime in the state of Colorado, weapons charges include a lot more than armed robberies.

The legal category of “weapons charges” includes offenses dealing with both the possession and the use of firearms. Weapons charges include the illegal possession of certain weapons by any person and the illegal possession of any weapons by certain persons.

The use of a weapon during the commission of a crime can also result in an additional criminal charge or a harsher penalty for the underlying charge.

In Colorado, these are some of the crimes that are considered “weapons charges”: carrying a handgun without a permit, the illegal discharge of a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon, the possession of a weapon by a previous offender, enhancement of a deadly weapon, and the illegal purchase and sale of a firearm.


A person can be charged and prosecuted for possessing an illegal weapon even though no one was injured, threatened, or even if no one observed the weapon.

The purchase, possession, and use of firearms are strictly regulated throughout this state, and some Colorado municipalities enforce their own additional firearms regulations. Denver, for example, bans assault weapons and the open carry of firearms.

Everywhere in Colorado, it is against the law:

  • for anyone who has been convicted of a felony or of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge to possess a firearm. However, in 2012, the Colorado Supreme Court recognized one exception in People vs. Carbajal, which established that a previously convicted felon may possess a firearm for the purpose of defending his home, property, or person.
  • for anyone under the age of 18 to possess a handgun, and it is also unlawful to provide or permit a juvenile to possess a handgun, with several exceptions specified by statute (such as when the juvenile is taking a hunting safety or gun safety class).
  • for anyone who is deemed to have a history of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or mental illness to possess a firearm.
  • to possess a rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches and a length shorter than 26 inches, or to possess a shotgun with a barrel shorter than 18 inches and a length shorter than 26 inches.
  • to knowingly possess a firearm if the manufacturer’s serial number or other identifying mark has been defaced or removed.
  • to own, sell, or transfer a “large capacity” magazine that can hold more than fifteen rounds or can be easily converted to hold more than fifteen rounds. The statute does not apply to anyone who owned such a magazine on July 1, 2013 (when the law took effect) and has maintained continuous possession since that time.

If you are charged with any violation of a weapons law in Colorado, you will need to consult at once with a qualified Denver criminal defense attorney.

How can your attorney best defend you against a weapons charge in this state?

What follows is a brief and general explanation of the basic defenses that are typically offered – often with success – when a defendant is accused of a Colorado weapons violation.

Of course, every case and every defendant is unique, so anyone who is facing an actual, specific firearms charge in Colorado should have the advice and representation that a skilled Denver criminal defense attorney can offer.


A number of weapons charges in Colorado require time in prison upon conviction. If you face a firearms charge in the Denver area, it’s like any other criminal charge.

You have the constitutional right to remain silent. Be reasonable and polite to the police officers who arrest and book you, but do not answer any of their questions until you can speak with a good criminal defense lawyer.

Clearly, the most basic defense against a charge based on the illegal possession of a weapon is the defense that the defendant was not in fact in possession of the weapon.

In such cases, the prosecutor must “link” or tie the defendant to the weapon, and if no links or ties can be solidly established, the state’s case may be weak.

A second possibility – for defendants who are allowed to own legal weapons – may be the defense that the weapon in question was not in fact illegal.

Colorado law spells out several exceptions which may apply in some weapons possession cases. State law, however, allows no exceptions for gun collectors or for antique firearms.


If you violate a firearms law, and if you are convicted, you will face serious penalties in Colorado.

Buying or otherwise acquiring a firearm in Colorado, when someone is prohibited from owning a firearm or when someone knows that the weapon is illegal, is a Class 4 felony in this state, punishable upon conviction by two to six years in prison, a fine of $2,000 to $500,000, or both a fine and imprisonment.

If someone is charged with using a firearm illegally, the basic legal defenses are similar to the defenses against any type of assault charge.

The possible defenses include self-defense, mutual consent, or proving that the “weapon” was not, in fact, a weapon. For example, robbers will sometimes place a hand in a jacket or coat pocket to pretend to have a gun.

Even if a defendant is later convicted for the robbery, if that defendant and his or her defense attorney can prove that there was no weapon used in the commission of the robbery, the conviction will not be for the more serious charge of armed or “aggravated” robbery.

Still, you could be accused of a weapons violation because of a misunderstanding, a misidentification, or even because of a story that has been entirely fabricated.

Whatever the truth is, if you are arrested and charged with a weapons crime in this state, your attorney will find the truth and fight diligently in your defense.

If you are charged with a weapons crime in the Denver area or anywhere in Colorado, you must have the aggressive defense that an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney can offer.

Have a Warrant in Denver County? Here’s What To Do

Posted on: July 23, 2017 by in Criminal Defense
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In Colorado, arrest warrants are authorized and issued by judges, and if there is an arrest warrant in this state with your name on it, you can be taken into custody without notice at any time.

The law in Colorado requires an arrest warrant for a suspect if the alleged crime has been committed outside the view of police officers.

However, before a Colorado judge will issue an arrest warrant, “probable cause” for the warrant must be established.

When a crime is observed by a police officer – driving under the influence, for example – no warrant is needed for the officer to make the arrest.

A law officer has “probable cause” to make an arrest or to request an arrest warrant when that officer has enough evidence to support the belief that a crime has been committed by a particular suspect.

In a typical DUI arrest, for example, the suspect’s observable driving behavior is usually enough to provide reasonable cause.

But when it’s a crime that no law officer observed, the evidence must be obtained from sources such as interviews with witnesses, clues found at the crime scene, and pertinent documents.

A Colorado defense lawyer can learn if there is a warrant for your arrest and precisely what the charge is.

In some cases, an attorney can arrange for you to turn yourself in without a formal arrest procedure.

In other cases, if there’s no strong or substantial evidence against you, a good defense attorney may be able to have the charge dropped or reduced before an arrest is made or may be able to reach some other agreement with the prosecutor.


A valid Colorado arrest warrant is issued by a judge, names (or describes, if no name is available) the suspect, spells out the exact charge or charges, and indicates the evidence upon which probable cause for the arrest is based.

If you are arrested in or near Denver for any crime, you’re going to need reliable counsel immediately. Don’t try to be your own lawyer. Even if the charge is a misdemeanor or a first offense, too much is at stake.

Arrange as soon as possible after an arrest in the Denver area to meet with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney who can review the allegation against you, explain your legal rights and options, and advocate aggressively in your defense.

If you are in police custody, politely insist on your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney present during questioning. Let a skilled Denver criminal defense lawyer represent and defend you.

If you flee the state after finding out that there is a warrant for your arrest, you become a fugitive, and when you are found, you will probably be extradited.

Extradition may be contested in court in the jurisdiction where the arrest is made, but if a criminal suspect is extradited back to Colorado, that suspect will face additional penalties for fleeing from justice along with the initial criminal charge.


Arrest warrants are among the several types of warrants used in our legal system. A “bench warrant” is in most cases an arrest warrant that is issued when a suspect fails to make a scheduled court appearance.

A search warrant, like an arrest warrant, must also be based on probable cause. A search warrant gives police officers the authority to conduct a search, at a specified place and time, for evidence related to a crime.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, however, limits the power of law enforcement officers to search persons and properties and to seize evidence.

The Constitution offers no precise definition of “probable cause,” but the established legal standard is that law enforcement officers must identify specific activities and facts about a crime and a suspect to establish probable cause. Hunches, feelings, and subjective suspicions that cannot be verified are insufficient.

“Sneak and peek” warrants are rare. They allow law enforcement officers to enter a residence or other premises without an occupant’s or an owner’s knowledge or consent.

A sneak and peek warrant must be based on strong evidence that a crime has been committed. During a “sneak and peek,” law officers may only observe, but their observations may be used to establish reasonable cause for a search warrant.

While the sneak and peek is defended as a tool for fighting terrorism, it’s also used to investigate drug and weapons crimes. Police officers haven’t always followed the rules with sneak and peek warrants, and the use of these warrants remains controversial.


Every driver in the state of Colorado should know that a traffic citation warrant may be issued for almost any traffic violation – from unpaid traffic tickets to serious offenses like reckless driving.

If you should fail to appear for a scheduled court date on a traffic matter, or if you overlook paying a traffic fine, the state of Colorado could issue an arrest warrant with your name on it.

A Denver criminal defense attorney can help you if that happens, but the best policy is to take any traffic citation seriously and deal with it immediately.

“Civil” warrants can be issued in Colorado for civil proceedings such as small claims court cases.

If your name is on a Colorado civil warrant, you will be told appear in a civil court at a specific courtroom, date, and time.

Failure to appear – that is, failure to respond to a civil warrant – means that you forfeit the case and the other party wins, which in turn means that you will probably have to pay damages.

A child support warrant may be issued in this state when a parent who has been ordered by a court to make child support payments fails to do so.

If you are a Colorado parent who is not receiving the child support payments owed to you, you have the right to take legal action to compel the other parent to pay. If the delinquent parent fails to appear for a hearing, an arrest warrant may be issued.

If you are placed under arrest in this state for any reason, contact a qualified Denver criminal defense attorney immediately.

If you believe that any of your rights were violated by police officers at any point during your investigation, arrest, or time in custody, tell your attorney at once.

Don’t hesitate to seek legal help right away if you are the subject of an arrest warrant or a search warrant in Colorado. It is your right.

Colorado Governor Signs New Civil Asset Forfeiture Law

Posted on: June 22, 2017 by in Criminal Defense
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Civil asset forfeiture is a controversial legal procedure and a growing concern across the nation. It’s the seizure of assets by law enforcement authorities from persons suspected of criminal involvement or activity – without necessarily filing any criminal charges against those persons.

In June, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a controversial new law which restricts the way civil asset forfeitures are handled in this state.

To be precise, civil asset forfeiture is more than the mere seizure of someone’s assets. When the government takes any part of someone’s assets, it’s called “asset seizure.”

Asset “forfeiture” is the legal process whereby the government takes legal ownership of assets it has seized. Property is forfeited when that process is complete and the legal title to the assets transfers to the government.


Supporters of civil asset forfeiture promote it as a tool for fighting organized crime and drug traffickers, since the procedure allows authorities to confiscate cash and other assets from narcotics traffickers and then use that cash to pay for the enforcement of drug laws. C

ritics of civil asset forfeiture contend that the innocent can have their right to property violated with few legal protections or due process rules to protect them.

Opponents of civil asset forfeiture have further contended that it creates a presumption of guilt rather than a presumption of innocence, and that it invariably leads to corruption and violations of citizens’ constitutional rights by police authorities.

Thus, organizations such as the ACLU of Colorado urged Governor Hickenlooper to sign the controversial new restrictions. “Coloradans,” the ACLU declared, “want and deserve stronger protections when

“Coloradans,” the ACLU declared, “want and deserve stronger protections when property is taken by police.”

The new measure was co-sponsored in the Colorado General Assembly by State Representative Leslie Herod and State Senator Tim Neville.

However, a number of Colorado law enforcement and local government officials insist that the new measure will impair law enforcement’s abilities in Colorado by reducing the resources available to the state’s local police agencies.

“I think this is a solution looking for a problem,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey told the Denver Post. Activists who focus on the fight against human trafficking also asked Governor Hickenlooper to veto the legislation, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.


The new statute requires police agencies to report information about asset seizures twice each year to the state.

However, the law’s most controversial provision would prohibit local law enforcement agencies from receiving any forfeited assets from the federal government in cases where local and federal police work together and the money and property forfeited amounts to less than $50,000.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Carey said that in the past five years alone, his department has received $2 million in forfeitures from cases where Colorado Springs officers worked with federal law enforcement agencies.

Chief Carey told the Denver Post, “Of those cases, 85 percent of them did not meet the $50,000 threshold. So that means 15 percent of that would be equitable sharing in the future.”

In 2014, Colorado police agencies received about $2.8 million of the $13.5 million seized by federal law enforcement officials in Colorado that year.

Civil asset forfeiture was actually quite rare prior to 1984, when Congress approved the Comprehensive Crime Control Act and thus established a special fund that shares forfeited assets with the law enforcement agencies that helped seize those assets.

Local police agencies that work with federal authorities are rewarded with a share of the forfeited assets through a program called Equitable Sharing. Soon after 1984, most states started establishing their own civil forfeiture laws.


Abuses quickly followed, and critics insisted that civil asset forfeiture is an unconstitutional violation of due process rights. In 2000, Congress passed the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act.

It requires federal prosecutors to prove “a substantial connection between the property and the offense,” but critics contend that the Reform Act has done little to stop abuses linked to civil asset forfeiture, and there are still no penalties for wrongful seizures and forfeitures.

Louis Rulli, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a leading forfeiture authority, told the New Yorker, “The protections our Constitution usually affords are out the window.”

The federal Equitable Sharing program allows local police across the nation to sidestep state-imposed forfeiture rules by deeming suspected criminal activity to be a federal crime and bringing in federal authorities.

Equitable Sharing thus subverts the intent of legislatures that have restricted civil asset forfeiture at the state level.

The new statute here in Colorado checkmates that problem by simply prohibiting participation in Equitable Sharing when the money and property forfeited amounts to less than $50,000.

Supporters of the new Colorado forfeiture statute say that the $50,000 threshold figure protects poor and average-income citizens from civil asset forfeiture abuse while still allowing local law enforcement agencies to profit when they work on cases against organized crime and major drug trafficking operations.

The only states that have outlawed civil asset forfeiture entirely are North Carolina and New Mexico.

Criminal forfeiture is a different procedure and a penalty that can be imposed against a defendant after a criminal conviction.

If you are charged or being investigated for any crime in Colorado, you could be targeted for civil or criminal asset forfeiture, and you’ll need to get some legal advice – and possibly criminal defense representation – from an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney.

Even though you can be targeted for civil asset forfeiture without necessarily being charged with a crime, it’s still wise to consult a Denver criminal defense attorney if you learn that you are the subject of any criminal investigation.

If you’re contacted by the police, do not agree to an interview or provide a statement – even if police officers tell you that “everything will be fine if you just cooperate.”

Anything you say to the police can be used against you, so trust only your attorney if you are under investigation by any law enforcement agency for any reason.

In some cases, of course, an investigation cannot be resolved and an arrest cannot be stopped. In this situation, make sure that you are represented by an experienced defense lawyer who can bring your case to its best possible resolution.

What Are The Gun Laws In Denver?

Posted on: May 20, 2017 by in Criminal Defense
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Mass shootings. Assault weapons. Gun control. Regardless of where you stand on these perennially controversial topics, everyone in Colorado should know what this state’s laws are regarding guns, gun ownership, and concealed carry permits.

This is a general explanation of gun laws in Colorado, but anyone who is charged with a particular firearms violation in this state will need the precise and specific legal advice that a Denver criminal defense attorney can provide.

A number of laws regulate the purchase, ownership, and use of firearms in Colorado. The foundation of Colorado’s gun laws is the distinction it makes between handguns and long guns.

To own either gun in this state, no permit, registration, or license is required by law.

The state allows both open and concealed carry, although concealed carry permits are approved only for handguns and never for long guns.

Moreover, local governments in Colorado have the discretion in most cases to restrict guns, gun ownership, and gun use beyond what the statewide gun laws require.

A background check is required by federal law for all private firearms sales. Background checks in Colorado exceed what the federal law requires.

Even for a private sale between two Colorado residents, the seller must have a licensed gun dealer conduct a background investigation on his or her behalf.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation must be informed of all gun ownership changes.

The buyers are responsible to pay for the background checks. Gun show purchases also require background checks whether the seller is a licensed dealer or a private individual.


Concealed carry licenses in Colorado are issued in each county by the Sheriff’s department. A concealed carry license expires after five years.

Applicants must successfully complete a concealed carry class. Concealed carry licenses allow gun owners to carry their weapons throughout Colorado except on federal properties, grade school (K-12) premises, and buildings like courthouses that have security desks or checkpoints.

To obtain a Colorado concealed carry license, you must be a resident of Colorado and a resident of the county where you apply for the license. You’ll need to answer some personal questions and you must answer them truthfully.

You’ll be photographed, fingerprinted, and subjected to a background check. If you are approved to use medical marijuana in Colorado, you might not be approved for a concealed carry permit because pot is still illegal under federal law.


In most cases, if you meet Colorado’s legal requirements for a concealed carry permit, the permit will be approved.

However, county Sheriff’s departments have wide discretion and may refuse to issue a concealed carry permit – even if the applicant qualifies – if the department believes the applicant may be a threat to public safety.

Open carry is allowed without a license in Colorado, but it is subject to local regulation. For example, open carry is not allowed in Denver.

Rifles and shotguns openly carried in motor vehicles in this state cannot have a round in the chamber. Local governments may restrict open carry in municipal buildings with clear, visibly posted signs.

The state of Colorado does not ban assault rifles, but the city of Denver bans all assault weapons. Large capacity magazines (LCMs) are restricted to fifteen rounds.

This state recognizes the “castle” doctrine, which allows residents to use deadly force inside their homes to protect themselves and others from intruders.

However, there is no “stand your ground” law in Colorado, so anyone who feels threatened outside of his or her home must attempt to retreat first and may only use deadly force as a last resort.

Minors, persons with felony convictions, and those with a history of drug use, alcohol problems, mental illness, or domestic violence may not possess a gun in this state.

Colorado exceeds federal domestic violence requirements by requiring those with civil protection orders (restraining orders) issued against them to turn in any guns they own – and not obtain more – for the duration of the protection order.

A conviction for domestic violence prevents the offender from purchasing or owning a firearm legally in Colorado.


Even if you own a gun legally in Colorado, you may face a criminal charge for using a firearm illegally.

Aiming a gun at someone, recklessly discharging a firearm, or possessing a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances all constitute the prohibited use of a firearm, a class 2 misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by a term of three to twelve months in jail, a fine of $250 to $1,000, or both.

Purchasing or otherwise obtaining a firearm in Colorado – when you know it is illegal to do so – is a class 4 felony punishable upon conviction by two to six years in prison, a fine of $2,000 to $500,000, or both.

The private transfer of firearms in Colorado – that is, sales or transfers of firearms between non-licensed firearms dealers – is legal provided that both parties adhere to all applicable state and federal laws.

The illegal transfer of a firearm is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by six to eighteen months in jail, a fine of $500 to $5,000, or both.

Defacing a firearm or possessing a defaced firearm is also a class 1 misdemeanor. Defaced firearms are illegal in this state, and a court may order law officers to seize and destroy defaced firearms.

Possession of a handgun by anyone under the age of 18 is a class 2 misdemeanor, but a second conviction is a class 5 felony punishable upon conviction by one to three years in prison, a fine of $1,000 to $100,000, or both.

Exceptions, however, may apply to minors who are hunting legally, enrolled in certified gun safety courses, or on private property owned or controlled by the minor’s parent(s), grandparent(s), or legal guardian – with that adult’s consent.

Forfeiture is also a part of Colorado’s gun laws. If you are convicted of any crime in Colorado that includes the use of a firearm, the court may order you to relinquish that firearm. Once again, what is listed here is merely a general outline of Colorado’s gun laws.

Anyone with more questions and anyone who is accused of a specific gun violation in Colorado should seek an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney to provide sound, personalized legal advice, and if needed, effective defense representation.

Denver Is The First City In The U.S. To Allow Marijuana Use In Restaurants And Bars – Or Is It?

Posted on: December 22, 2016 by in Criminal Defense
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On November 8, the voters of Denver approved Initiative 300, a ballot measure originally allowing bars, restaurants, and other types of businesses to create onsite “consumption areas” for marijuana use that are either indoors (to permit vaping and edibles but not smoking) or outdoors (to allow smoking). Denver would have been the first city in the United States with “cannabis lounges” and “marijuana cafes.” But in yet another strange twist in this strangest of election years, it now appears that state officials will step in to prevent certain businesses in Denver from obtaining pot consumption permits.

Only ten days after the November election, the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Liquor Enforcement Division announced that businesses holding liquor licenses will not be permitted to become cannabis bars. The announcement was welcomed by the Colorado Restaurant Association and by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Both groups expressed apprehensions about people consuming pot and alcohol simultaneously and publicly. The Colorado Restaurant Association also stated that “several insurance companies have already indicated to us that they will not insure restaurants and bars that allow marijuana consumption.”

Some pro-pot activists immediately charged that the Department of Revenue was acting on behalf of the liquor industry. Speaking for the National Marijuana Policy Project, Mason Tvert told the Los Angeles Times, “This rule will not prevent bar-goers from consuming marijuana, but it will ensure that they consume it outside in the alley or on the street rather than inside of a private establishment.” The Department of Revenue, however, says that the new rule was not linked to the passage of Initiative 300 in Denver – despite the timing of the announcement.


Originally, Initiative 300 allowed Denver’s bars and restaurants to apply for permits allowing consumption areas that would let customers use marijuana with some restrictions. Customers would have to be adults and bring their own weed. However, the new rule announced by the Department of Revenue doesn’t necessarily disqualify coffee houses, cafes, art galleries, yoga studios, and similar venues from submitting applications for pot consumption permits.

Initiative 300 is supposed to be a four-year “pilot” program. It was approved by 53.4 percent of Denver’s voters, and it was expected to increase tax revenue, particularly from tourists visiting the Denver area. Marijuana for recreational use by adults in this state became legal in 2014 after Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, but tourists who arrive in Denver for the cannabis quickly discover that hotels, bars, and restaurants won’t allow it. For now, marijuana consumption in this state is legal only in private residences and in a small number of obscure “cannabis-only clubs” that several Colorado jurisdictions have approved.

Rachel O’Bryan led the opposition to Initiative 300 in Denver as the campaign manager for the group “Protect Denver’s Atmosphere.” Ms. O’Bryan now wants the Colorado attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, to examine the legality of Initiative 300. “We used to have a problem with people smoking pot in the parks and now they will be smoking in our neighborhoods,” Ms. O’Bryan said.


Still, and in spite of the many obstacles that the ballot initiative has faced, some pot activists insist that Initiative 300 is a positive, progressive step forward. Mason Tvert told the Los Angeles Times, “This is a groundbreaking law that reflects the shift in public attitude toward marijuana. The first was legalizing marijuana, and now the next step is to ensure that adults who legally purchase it have a place they can legally use it.”

State Representative Jonathan Singer also supported Initiative 300 as a positive, progressive step forward. Representative Singer told the Denver Post that the initiative would “be a good bellwether to see whether there’s a real appetite among the electorate to solve this problem” of visitors and Denver residents having nowhere they can consume marijuana when landlords don’t allow it.

Before Initiative 300 takes effect in January, Denver’s Office of Marijuana Policy will be designing the application form that businesses will submit to apply for onsite cannabis consumption areas. Dan Rowland, communications advisor for the City and County of Denver, says, “There’s a lot of work to be done in terms of how someone would go about applying for this permit and the time frame that will happen between now and then. Folks may be lining up to challenge it in the interim, just on the potential conflict with the state constitution.”


That’s because Amendment 20, the ballot measure that legalized marijuana for medical purposes in Colorado in 2000, clearly states: “No patient shall…engage in the medical use of marijuana in plain view of, or in a place open to, the general public.” In addition to Amendment 20’s clear language, the vaguer language of Amendment 64 could also be used in a potential legal challenge to Initiative 300. The bottom line is that, even though Initiative 300 was approved by the voters in November, Denver’s residents and visitors should not expect to take advantage of the ballot measure any time in the near future.

While marijuana for recreational use by adults in Colorado has been legal since 2014, driving under the influence remains a serious crime. It doesn’t matter if a driver is drunk on alcohol or high on pot – it’s the same criminal charge, and anyone facing the charge in the Denver area will need the counsel of an experienced Denver DUI attorney. Even a conviction for a first DUI without injuries or property damage is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

As you celebrate this holiday season, don’t drink and drive, and don’t smoke weed and drive. It’s that simple. This is the season when Colorado law enforcement agencies conduct more DUI checkpoints and focus on finding impaired drivers. While an experienced Denver DUI attorney can help suspects accused of driving under the influence, there’s no reason to ruin the holidays with DUI trouble. Before you drink, arrange for a limousine, a taxicab, a ride-share service, or a designated driver, or rent a room for the night. Pot is legal in Denver, so there’s no reason to get in legal trouble for using it.

Colorado Passes Cosby Law and Extends Statute of Limitations For Rape

Posted on: August 21, 2016 by in Criminal Defense
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Comedian Bill Cosby may or may not ultimately face justice for the sex crimes he has allegedly committed since the 1960s, but two of his accusers have won a different victory here in Colorado. Beth Ferrier, 57, of Denver, and Heidi Thomas, 56, of Castle Rock, lobbied aggressively to extend Colorado’s statute of limitations in rape and sexual assault cases. After a year-long effort, they succeeded, and Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill on June 10.

The new statute of limitations in rape and sexual assault cases, a response to the Bill Cosby rape allegations, doubles the statute of limitations to twenty years in Colorado. However, the statute is not retroactive, so Ferrier and Thomas will not be able to file charges against Bill Cosby in Colorado, but the women – both allegedly assaulted by Cosby in the 1980s – hope the new legislation will encourage more victims of rape and sexual assault to come forward, even ten or fifteen years later.

The legislation was sponsored by State Representative Rhonda Fields of Aurora, Senator John Cooke of Greeley, and Senator Mike Johnston from northeast Denver. “What we know is the path for survivors of sexual assault is uphill already,” Johnston told reporters after the governor signed the bill. “Justice is already elusive for victims of sexual assault. It makes no sense for Colorado to close the doors on those people who have the courage to try to seek it and say you can’t have your day in court.”


In the 1980s, Ms. Ferrier and Ms. Thomas were both employed as models with the Denver talent agency JF Images. Both say they were drugged and then sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby. Ms. Ferrier told reporters, “For me this is from this day forward, making sure that those one in four women come forward, and those one in seventeen men come forward. Do not keep this a secret, and don’t stay silent, and don’t become depressed, and don’t do all the things that come with being a victim of sexual assault.”


Neither woman reported the incidents when they happened because they feared that challenging Cosby would negatively impact their careers, they said. They both also said that they had been in denial about the assaults. Advocates of the new legislation contended that a longer statute of limitations is proper in such cases, because victims often need years to deal with the psychological impact of sexual assault before they gain the confidence to come forward.

Heidi Thomas, who was unable to attend the signing ceremony at the governor’s office due to family commitments, told reporters, “We are very proud of this bill, and we are very excited that it was able to pass in one year. I’m very proud of our legislators for seeing what really needed to be done. Hopefully, they see that this is one step of the process, but for right now we are going to celebrate.”

Bill Cosby has been the subject of sexual assault allegations for nearly two decades. Cosby has been accused by more than fifty women of rape, drug-facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual misconduct going back to the mid-1960s. He has denied the allegations. Most of the actions alleged by Cosby’s accusers now fall outside the statutes of limitations for legal proceedings. Numerous civil lawsuits against Cosby are still pending, and he still faces one felony charge of aggravated indecent assault in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.


A number of sex crimes are against the law in the state of Colorado. Clearly, no one wants to be convicted of a rape or a sexual assault charge. Apart from the very real consequences of a sex crime conviction – fines, prison, and lifetime sexual offender status – a convicted sex offender will also lose the trust of his or her friends, family, and colleagues, and may even have difficulty finding employment or housing.


For anyone who is charged with a sex crime in the state of Colorado, it is absolutely essential to retain the services of an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney who can protect your legal rights while defending you against the charge. Never try to act as your own lawyer, and never plead guilty or even answer any questions without having a Denver criminal defense attorney present. Sometimes the accusation of a sex crime can be completely discredited, and sometimes the charge can be reduced, but a winning defense in a sexual assault case will always require the skills of an experienced defense attorney.


The penalties for each sex crime in Colorado vary based on a number of “aggravating” factors that can increase a perpetrator’s criminal responsibility: for example, the perpetrator used a deadly weapon to force submission, the perpetrator used a date rape drug to force submission, or the victim suffered serious bodily injury. These are the charges and penalties that a sexual assault suspect can face in Colorado:

  1. Class 1 misdemeanor: This is the charge when a victim of sexual assault is between 15 and 17 years of age and the alleged perpetrator is ten or more years older. If convicted, a defendant faces from six to eighteen months in jail and a fine from $500 to $5,000.
  2. Class 2 felony: This is the charge if the victim sustained serious physical injury, if more than one person aided or abetted in the alleged assault, or if a deadly weapon was used. Those convicted of the Class 2 felony charge face eight to twenty years in prison, years of parole after the prison term, and a fine from $5,000 to $1 million.
  3. Class 3 felony: This is the charge when a victim is both physically helpless and non-consenting, or when violence, injury, pain, death, kidnapping, or retaliation is threatened or actually take place. Penalties for a Class 3 felony conviction include four to sixteen years in prison, years of parole after the prison term, and a fine from $3,000 to $750,000.
  4. Class 4 felony: Any sex crime that does not fall into one of the three other categories can be prosecuted as a Class 4 felony. Those convicted of a Class 4 felony face two to eight years in prison followed by a three-year parole period and a fine ranging from $2,000 to $500,000.


Denver Mayor Calls For Colorado Criminal Reform

Posted on: July 15, 2016 by in Criminal Defense
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The mayor of Denver, Michael B. Hancock, recently called for reforms to criminal justice policies that “have had disastrous effects on our communities of color” in the state of Colorado. The mayor writes that the state’s “drug laws and policies of incarceration” are “proving to be a failure,” and he advocated a number of sweeping reforms in a guest commentary published June 11 in the Denver Post.

Mayor Hancock writes, “the time is ripe for change in our criminal justice system,” and he insists that Colorado must alleviate prison overcrowding and what he calls “mass incarceration.” He’s right. From 1980 through 2008, the number of prisoners incarcerated in the United States rose from a half-million to 2.3 million, and in 2008, 58 percent of those prisoners were Hispanic or African-American. Currently, 36,000 people in Colorado are behind bars in the state’s jails and prisons, and a total of 123,000 are incarcerated or under criminal justice supervision.

Murphy - 2008 Racial Breakdown
The caseload has simply become too much for the Colorado Department of Corrections to handle. In 2014, the Denver Post published a series of investigative articles by Jennifer Brown, who reported that the Department of Corrections, by default, has become the largest mental health treatment facility in Colorado. A third of Colorado’s inmates, about 5,760 prisoners, have psychological problems. One-fifth of the Denver County Jail’s inmates as of 2014 struggled with some form of mental illness. If someone is arrested in the Denver area for any reason, it’s vital for that person to speak immediately with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney.


However, according to the mayor, both Denver’s Sheriff’s Department and Police Department have recently implemented comprehensive policy changes and reforms. Jail is no longer the automatic response to the chronic mental health and substance-abuse challenges that face the Denver community. Courts and law enforcement now look to place individuals confronting such challenges in treatment programs rather than jails.


According to the mayor, under Chief Robert White, the Denver Police Department has become the singular model for criminal justice reform across the United States. The department has been part of an international effort to address the concerns of those individuals most affected by the legal system. While there is much more work to do, the mayor says that Denver’s citizens should be proud that our city is considered a leader in criminal justice reform.

In his guest commentary, Mayor Hancock also advocates a federal legislative proposal – the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 – currently under consideration by the United States Senate. If passed into law, the bill would reform the federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws that have led to overcrowded prisons and wasted tax dollars. The bill would fund additional treatment programs for inmates and allow federal resources to be used effectively to keep Colorado communities safe as some communities can be more dangerous than others. In addition to treatment programs there are scholarships specific to Colorado, local community support programs and public health support.


The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 is a chance for federal lawmakers to implement substantial criminal justice reforms at the federal level, a change that Colorado’s citizens have already supported at the state and local levels. Citizens are encouraged to contact their congressional representative as well as U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner regarding the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015. The mayor concludes his guest commentary by saying, “I urge Congress to pass this important piece of legislation.” If it becomes law, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 would:

  • Reduce the mandatory minimum life without parole sentence for a third drug offense under Title 21 of the United States Code, sections 841 and 851, to a mandatory minimum 25-year sentence.
  • Reduce the mandatory minimum 20-year sentence for a second drug offense under Title 21 U.S.C. sections 841 and 851 to a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence.
  • More narrowly define which prior drug offenses trigger longer mandatory minimum drug sentences under Title 21 U.S.C. sections 841 and 851.
  • Apply the 15-year and 25-year mandatory minimum drug sentences to offenders who now have broadly-defined “serious violent felony” prior convictions.
  • Make the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactive, allowing approximately 5,800 crack cocaine offenders sentenced before August 2010 to seek sentences in line with the Fair Sentencing Act’s reforms.
  • Expand the “safety valve” exception so that in some cases nonviolent drug offenders can receive sentences below the mandatory minimum term.
  • Create an additional safety valve exception for drug offenders facing 10-year mandatory minimum sentences so that they can receive the 5-year mandatory minimum prison term under certain conditions.
  • Clarify that the 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for a second or subsequent offense of possessing guns in the course of drug trafficking offenses or crimes of violence under Title 18 U.S.C. section 924(c) only applies when the prior 924(c) conviction is final prior to the commission of the new 924(c) offense.
  • Apply the 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for the second or subsequent section 924 offenses to offenders who have broadly-defined prior convictions for crimes that include gun possession, brandishing, or discharge.
  • Allow some federal prisoners to earn time credits for completing rehabilitation programs and “cash in” those time credits at the end of their sentences for a transfer to a different type of supervision such as a halfway house.
  • Create a new mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for interstate domestic violence resulting in a death and five years for providing certain weapons or aid to terrorists.
  • Create a new, mandatory sentencing enhancement to drug offenses under Title 21 U.S.C. sections 841 and 960. If the drugs in question include an analogue or any amount of the drug fentanyl, or if the drugs involved were represented as heroin, courts must add up to an additional 5 years in prison to an offender’s sentence.


Reforms to the criminal justice system are happening rapidly across the nation. In 2014, California’s Proposition 47 reclassified low-level property and drug felonies such as shoplifting, theft, and check fraud under $950, as well as personal illicit drug use, as misdemeanors. In New York City, thousands charged with low-level or non-violent crimes no longer have to post bail under a new plan to lower the number of inmates in the city’s crowded jail system.


Of course, if you commit a crime in the Denver area, you’ll still be arrested, and you’ll still need the counsel of an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney. Nevertheless, the United States is slowly, step-by-step creating a criminal justice system that is fair, that does not discriminate, and that genuinely delivers justice to citizens throughout Colorado and the other forty-nine states.