Archive for the ‘ Criminal Defense ’ Category

What Is Considered Shoplifting In Denver?

Posted on: December 16, 2018 by in Criminal Defense
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In the state of Colorado, “property crimes” include crimes such as theft, burglary, robbery, and receiving stolen property. The penalties for property crime convictions can be mild or severe depending on the specific crime and the value of the property that was stolen or damaged. This is where a Denver theft crimes attorney can help.

In 2017, shoplifting crimes constituted more than twenty percent of the thefts in Colorado. Statewide, more than 22,000 incidents of shoplifting were reported in 2017.


You are about to learn what constitutes shoplifting according to Colorado law. You will also find out why even innocent shoppers need to know the law in order to avoid legal trouble.

But first things first. The most important thing to know about shoplifting in Colorado is where to get the legal help that you will very much need if you are accused of a shoplifting crime.

If you are accused of shoplifting or any property crime in Colorado – theft, auto theft, burglary, robbery, or receiving stolen property – you must be represented by a reliable lawyer. You’ll need to speak about your case immediately with an experienced criminal defense attorney.


What can constitute shoplifting in Colorado? Obviously, if a teenager slips a tube of lipstick into her purse and leaves a store without paying for it, she has committed shoplifting. But fraudulent returns also constitute shoplifting. Here is how that works.

Let’s say that your sister in another state sent you a shirt as a Christmas present. It doesn’t fit, but you know a store in Denver that sells the same shirt, so you innocently presume that you can take the shirt to the Denver store and ask for a refund or store credit.

But according to Colorado law, that’s shoplifting.

Colorado law

One form of shoplifting in this state is returning an item to a retailer who did not sell you the item and trying to get store credit or cash. Shoplifting in Colorado also includes tampering with labels or price tags and switching merchandise from one package or container to another.


Precisely what does a Colorado prosecutor have to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to convict a defendant who has been accused of shoplifting? A prosecutor must prove that:

1. The defendant intended to deprive another party of property – permanently.

2. The defendant intentionally took, kept, or took control of another party’s property without permission.

3. To take possession of the shoplifted property, the defendant threatened, deceived, or otherwise acted without authorization.


The criminal penalties for shoplifting convictions in this state are based on the value of the item or items that were shoplifted:

1. Shoplifting items valued below $50 is a Class 1 petty offense punishable upon conviction with six months in jail and a $500 fine.

2. Shoplifting items valued between $50 and $300 is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable upon conviction with six months in jail and a $750 fine.

3. Shoplifting items valued between $300 and $750 is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable upon conviction with a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

shoplifting penalties

4. Shoplifting items valued between $750 and $2,000 is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable upon conviction with eighteen months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

5. Shoplifting items valued above $2,000 is a Class 6, 5, 4, or 3 felony depending on the precise value of the shoplifted item or items. The maximum penalty for a Class 3 felony shoplifting conviction in Colorado is twelve years in prison and a $750,000 fine.

If you have previously been convicted of a shoplifting crime or another theft charge in Colorado, a harsher sentence can be imposed for a second or subsequent conviction.


As mentioned previously, if you are charged with shoplifting, the state must prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. That is not always easy. A number of potential defenses might be offered to help your case.

If you genuinely believed that the item was already yours, if it was mistakenly in your bag or purse, or if you accidentally walked out of a store with an item, your lawyer may be able to defend you by claiming that you did not mean to steal anything and that you lacked any criminal intent.

If you were misidentified for someone else, you may need to provide evidence that you were somewhere else when the shoplifting took place – in other words, you may need an alibi.


However, taking a shoplifting case to trial and offering one of these defenses is usually a final resort. In most cases, your lawyer will try to have the charge dismissed before a trial begins.

dismissed charges

If that is not possible, you will probably be allowed to accept a plea agreement at any point in the legal process. Do not, however, agree to any plea arrangement until you have discussed the offer with a skilled Denver criminal defense attorney.


First-time shoplifting offenders may qualify for pretrial diversion. A diversion program usually combines community service, counseling, payment of restitution, and probation, but when a defendant successfully completes a diversion program, the shoplifting charge will be dismissed.

pretrial diversion

Pretrial diversion is designed to penalize first offenders justly without imposing on them a criminal record that might impair their ability to be productive members of society.


If you are facing any kind of theft charge in the greater Denver area or anywhere in the state, it is imperative for you to speak at once with a reputable theft defense lawyer.

After evaluating your case, your defense attorney will explain your legal options and will develop the best possible defense strategy on your behalf.

Do not take any chances with your future and your freedom. If you are facing a shoplifting charge or any theft charge in Colorado, a good defense lawyer’s help is your right. In fact, your future could depend on it.

Will Juvenile Crimes Be Used Against Your Adult Charges?

Posted on: November 19, 2018 by in Criminal Defense
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If your child is accused of a crime, a great deal is at stake. Depending on the details of the case and its resolution, the consequences of a teenager’s criminal behavior can follow that young person into adulthood – and cause lasting difficulties. Can a Denver drug crimes lawyer help?

In the state of Colorado, can a juvenile offender’s criminal record be used against that person as an adult? Probably not in most cases, but there really is not a clear “yes or no” answer to the question. The best answer is this: “It depends.”

But keep reading, because this is a brief introduction to the laws and procedures that govern juvenile records in Colorado. You are about to learn:

1. which juvenile records are automatically sealed and expunged – and which are not
2. what sealing or expunging a juvenile record really means and accomplishes


Most Colorado criminal justice records are available to the public under the Colorado Open Records Act. Some limits are placed on the public’s access to juvenile records, but if you are an adult with a juvenile record, you need to know the law, and you may need to take some action.

In 2017, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law which automatically expunges the juvenile records of teens who were acquitted, had the case dismissed, or have completed their sentences – for misdemeanors and petty offenses.


The law in Colorado, however, continues making the most egregious juvenile offenders ineligible for expungement, including anyone who has been adjudicated:

1. as a repeat, violent, or aggravated juvenile offender
2. for a homicide or vehicular homicide as a juvenile offender
3. for a felony offense involving unlawful sexual behavior

The law which took effect in 2017 requires the state to provide juvenile offenders with a written notice that they have a right to expungement and the expungement process. Additionally, the law prevents prosecutors from asking juvenile defendants to waive that right in a plea negotiation.


But apart from the legally-required notification of the right to expungement, Colorado does not tell young people any additional legal details about their juvenile records – or about the ways that a person’s juvenile record can be used against that person as an adult.

A juvenile record that has not been expunged may adversely affect someone as an adult by significantly limiting that person’s educational and employment opportunities.

Information about juvenile arrests and convictions is sometimes made available to government agencies and other parties, but only in the narrowest and most limited circumstances.


Schools are entitled to any available criminal record information about a juvenile, provided that the school authorities require the information to fulfill legal responsibilities or obligations.

To “promote school safety” and “assist disruptive children,” Colorado lawmakers give the schools in this state full access to the juvenile records of the school’s students and prospective students.

Pertinent Colorado juvenile records are also made available to:

1. the Colorado Bureau of Investigation when the CBI conducts background checks for gun purchases

2. the Colorado Department of Education when it conducts background checks on prospective employees

3. the Colorado Department of Human Services

4. this state’s Assessment Centers for children


Outside of education, private employers in Colorado have no access to juvenile records. In most cases, the state’s police agencies may not share any information from juvenile arrest records with the public.

However, the public may access juvenile records for juveniles currently in custody who have been charged with or deemed delinquent for crimes involving handguns and crimes that are considered felonies when they are committed by adults.

Additionally, a juvenile record is accessible to the public when a charge is filed against an older juvenile for committing what would be a sex crime if the alleged offender were an adult.


You have the right to petition for the expungement of your Colorado juvenile record unless you were deemed an aggravated or violent juvenile offender. Expungement lets you, and it also lets the state of Colorado, say that your offense never happened and that no record of it exists.

Juveniles who complete a diversion program or receive informal adjustment qualify for expungement after one year.

If your juvenile record is not automatically expunged – that is, if you were convicted of a crime other than a petty offense or a misdemeanor – speak about expungement with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney.


A defense lawyer can determine if you qualify for expungement; if you do, your attorney can guide you through the process. When the court receives your expungement request, the court may or may not conduct an expungement hearing, and your record may or may not be expunged.

Even when a juvenile record has been expunged in Colorado, it remains accessible to the state’s judges and probation officials if you face sentencing for any future Colorado criminal conviction. It also stays available to educational employers through the Colorado Department of Education.

Apart from public, private, and charter schools in this state, Colorado employers generally cannot access juvenile records. When it conducts a background check, Colorado’s Education Department is given full access to arrest, court, and probation records, and even to fingerprints.

However, no employer in this state, including the Education Department, may look at someone’s expunged record without showing cause to a judge and getting a court order.


If your child is arrested for any reason in Colorado, an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney can help, but you must put a good defense lawyer on the case immediately.

Our state’s juvenile justice system takes into account both the severity of the alleged crime as well as the background and circumstances of an alleged juvenile offender. Rehabilitation, not punishment, is the juvenile justice system’s goal.

Nevertheless, juveniles enjoy the same rights as adults, and prosecutors still must prove that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. An experienced Colorado defense lawyer can give families in these cases the advice they need.

In Colorado, if you need to have a criminal conviction expunged, or if your child needs to have a juvenile record expunged, speak to a criminal defense lawyer at once. Nothing is more important than our kids and their futures.

Can You Move Out Of State While On Bond?

Posted on: August 16, 2018 by in Criminal Defense
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If a criminal defendant in the state of Colorado flees – or merely appears to vanish – while free on bond and waiting for a trial to begin, the legal consequences can be quite severe.

You are about to learn what can happen if you flee or disappear while you are on trial or awaiting trial on a criminal charge in Colorado. You will also learn what you can do to protect yourself if you are accused of violating your bond and failing to appear in court as scheduled, and how a Denver drug crimes attorney can help.


Fleeing from a Colorado court’s jurisdiction either before or during a criminal trial is going to have serious and lasting ramifications, and it will not matter if the original charge is a trivial misdemeanor or a serious felony.

A defendant who has been arrested and charged with a crime in this state will usually be held in custody until some form of bail has been posted or until the person is released on his or her own recognizance.

Technically speaking, a bail bond will be denied only in homicide cases and in other cases involving violent felonies. However, if a judge believes that a defendant is likely to flee if he or she is released, that judge can set that defendant’s bond amount insurmountably high.


A judge will set a bond amount that he or she believes will be sufficient to ensure that the defendant will appear for all scheduled court proceedings.

When determining that bond amount figure, a court will take into account the safety risk to the general public, the details and seriousness of the alleged crime, the defendant’s previous criminal record, and the risk of flight posed by the defendant.


A criminal defendant who is released on bond while awaiting trial in Colorado must also agree to the specified terms and conditions for release:

1. A failure to appear in court as scheduled may result in an arrest and the forfeiture of the bond. Failure to appear is a separate criminal offense punishable upon conviction by up to a year in prison and the loss of eligibility for probation or for a suspended sentence.

2. Standard bond conditions bar defendants from committing a second crime and from leaving the state of Colorado while free on bond and awaiting trial.

3. Defendants must agree to abide by Colorado’s mandatory restraining order that prohibits contact with alleged victims and witnesses in criminal cases.

4. Defendants must immediately inform the court regarding any change of residence.


The paramount condition of a bond is the defendant’s agreement to appear at every scheduled court hearing. It is the defendant’s responsibility to know when and where those hearings are to be conducted.

If you are a criminal defendant in Colorado and you fail to appear in court as scheduled, the court may order your arrest and either revoke your bond or raise the amount of your bond.


If you must leave the state while you are awaiting trial, it may only be for a personal or family emergency, and you must obtain the consent of the court. If a bail bonding agent arranged for your bond, you’ll also have to obtain a “consent of surety” document from that bonding agent.

There is no guarantee that you will be able to obtain consent to travel out of state while awaiting trial from either the court or the bail bonding agent. They are under no obligation to grant that consent.


A defendant released on bond related to a felony charge can be convicted of a separate Class Six felony – punishable by “imprisonment of not less than one year” – if he or she knowingly fails to appear for trial or other proceedings or knowingly violates the conditions of the bail bond.

A defendant free on bond for a misdemeanor charge can be convicted of a separate Class Three misdemeanor – punishable by a term of “not less than six months” – if the defendant knowingly fails to appear for trial or other proceedings or knowingly violates the conditions of the bond.

A person convicted for either of these violations becomes automatically ineligible for probation or for a suspended sentence.


Defendants may only be convicted for knowingly and intentionally violating a bail bond’s terms and conditions.

For example, if you change your residential address while you are awaiting trial, and you notify the court regarding the change of residence, you cannot be convicted of a bond violation if your change of address wasn’t processed promptly and you temporarily could not be located.

If you could not appear in court because you had a medical emergency, you cannot be convicted of a bond violation, but you’ll have to produce the medical documents and receipts that prove your medical emergency was real.


However, if you knowingly and intentionally flee from the court’s jurisdiction while awaiting trial or during the course of a trial, and if you are convicted of violating your bond, any future arrest may mean an insurmountably high bond amount.

Moreover, if you flee before or during a criminal trial, when that trial begins or resumes, you will not be able to suppress the information about your flight to avoid prosecution.

In a 2015 case (People v. Gee), the Colorado Court of Appeals determined that information that the accused fled Colorado to avoid prosecution was, in fact, relevant and admissible at trial as evidence of “consciousness of guilt.”


That’s simply one more reason why you must reach out to an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney if you are charged with failing to appear in court or with violating your bond in some other way.

The right defense attorney will answer your legal questions, address your concerns, and fight aggressively for justice on your behalf.

If you’re charged with any crime in Colorado, legal help is your right. Make the call and get the legal help you need – as soon as you need it. Your future – and even your freedom – may depend on it.

How Plea Deals Work In Colorado?

Posted on: July 17, 2018 by in Criminal Defense
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If you are charged with a crime in the state of Colorado – and it can happen to anyone – you should know what a plea bargain is, because you will probably be offered one.

However, the first and most important thing to remember if you are charged with a crime in this state is that you must seek legal advice and representation at once from a Denver drug crimes attorney.


It cannot be stated strongly enough: It is imperative for every criminal defendant to be advised and represented by a criminal defense lawyer.

Do not accept any “deal” or plea bargain until and unless your defense lawyer recommends accepting it.

This is important: Absolutely do not try to negotiate your own plea bargain. Your attorney is a trained and experienced negotiator. Let that training and experience work for you.


A plea bargain may be defined as a contract that is legally binding between a criminal defendant and the state. It is a contract that settles the criminal charge (or charges) against the defendant.

What many people do not realize is that very few criminal cases actually go to trial.

We see trials on television because trials are potentially dramatic, but here in Colorado, fewer than five percent of the charges filed by prosecutors actually become formal courtroom trials.


Plea negotiations may take place before a suspect is formally charged or subsequent to charges being filed. A plea bargain can be offered after a trial begins or at any time before a verdict is returned.

In the typical plea agreement, a defendant agrees to enter a guilty plea (or a “no contest” plea) on at least one charge in exchange for one or more other charges being dismissed or reduced.

Like any negotiation, the first plea bargain offer from a prosecutor probably is not an offer that a defendant should accept. A plea bargain should be negotiated, and a good defense attorney will see to it that a defendant gets the best possible “deal.”


Colorado’s criminal courts are always overcrowded, and a formal criminal trial can sometimes drag on for weeks or even months, but a plea bargain can take only minutes.

Plea agreements also give each side more control over the case, because no third party – that is, no jury – is involved, and the behavior of a jury is always impossible to predict.

Colorado’s prosecutors and judges use plea agreements to move cases quickly through the system. Without the use of plea bargains, the criminal court system – in all fifty states – would quickly become unworkable.

Over ninety percent of the criminal convictions in the United States are the products of plea bargains. Colorado prosecutors use guidelines that specify precisely how plea bargains are to be offered and negotiated.


A plea agreement usually works in one of these three ways:

1. Sentencing agreements: A defendant pleads guilty or no contest to a charge in return for a reduced sentence.

2. Charge agreements: A defendant pleads guilty to a reduced charge, and the original charge is dropped. In Colorado, for example, a first-time DUI offender may be allowed to plead guilty to wet reckless, and the state in return will dismiss the DUI charge.

3. Count agreements: A defendant pleads guilty to one or several original charges, and the state in return dismisses any other charges.

A plea deal in Colorado can even be negotiated after a trial, if the trial concludes with a hung jury, and either the state or the defense does not wish to go through a second trial.


Just like a guilty plea, a no contest plea means a conviction. However, a plea of nolo contendere or no contest is the equivalent of saying, “I am not guilty, but I do not wish to contest the charge.”

Liability is the reason why most no contest pleas are entered.

Let’s say that a defendant injures someone while committing a robbery, and that victim sues the defendant for medical expenses. An admission of guilt in a criminal case means that a civil court will almost certainly find the defendant liable in any civil case that arises from the crime.

But whether the plea is guilty or no contest, most criminal defendants “take the deal,” but you should never take a “deal” until you know that you have the best possible offer.


A defense lawyer who routinely negotiates on behalf of clients will know what offer to accept and what offers should be rejected.

Of course, if you are not guilty of the crime, you should not accept any plea offer or make any agreement. A qualified criminal defense attorney will advocate aggressively for your acquittal and for the justice you deserve.

If the evidence against you is persuasive, and if the prosecutor’s case against you is sound, you should let your attorney negotiate the best possible plea agreement for you.

A plea agreement often make sense because trials are risky, juries are unpredictable, and even the best lawyer cannot promise or guarantee a result in any specific case. If you reject a plea deal and go to trial, a much harsher sentence is a possibility you must consider.


In the end, the choice to reject or accept a plea agreement is the defendant’s choice. However, a defendant really must give serious consideration to his or her attorney’s recommendations.

Colorado prosecutors can’t possibly take every case to trial, so if you are charged with a crime, you will probably be offered a plea deal.

You will need the advice, insights, and representation that an experienced criminal defense lawyer can provide.

If you are charged with a crime in Colorado, your freedom and your future will be on the line. You must get the legal help you need, and you must get it at once. That is your right.

How To Fight Probation Violation Charges In Denver

Posted on: May 14, 2018 by in Criminal Defense
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In the state of Colorado, if you have been convicted of a crime and then charged with violating your probation, an experienced Denver drug crimes attorney can help.

What constitutes a violation of probation in this state? And what can happen to someone who is convicted of a probation violation?


Probation is a criminal sentence that keeps the convicted offender from going to jail or prison. Probationers are allowed to live and work or attend school in their communities – provided that they adhere to the terms and conditions of their probation.

Probation in the state of Colorado lasts from one to five years, but violations of probation can result in a variety of additional criminal penalties including incarceration or a lengthier term of probation.

If a probation officer reports a violation of probation to the court, the judge may issue an arrest warrant for the probationer.


Listed here are the basic and usual conditions and terms of probation in Colorado. Probationers in this state must:

1. seek and maintain a job or be enrolled in school
2. submit to unwarranted, unannounced searches and drug tests
3. avoid any criminal acquaintances or associates
4. report routinely to probation officers
5. comply with the law and avoid a new arrest or charge


How a Colorado defense attorney handles a probation violation case will be determined predominantly by the details of the alleged violation itself.

In some cases, a defense lawyer may be able to persuade a judge that a probationer did not violate the terms of probation, and when that happens, no probation revocation hearing may be required – but this is relatively rare.

In the majority of cases, an alleged violation of probation in Colorado will be dealt with at a formal probation revocation hearing.


If you are on probation, it is important to understand that because you have already been convicted of a crime, you do not have the same legal rights at a probation revocation hearing that defendants have in any other criminal proceeding.

For example, an alleged violation of probation does not have to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” To convict you of violating your probation, a prosecutor only has to prove that a “preponderance of the evidence” points to your guilt.

There is also no right to a trial by a jury of your peers at a probation revocation hearing. A judge alone will conduct the hearing and determine a probationer’s guilt or innocence.

That’s why it is critical for you to be represented at a Colorado probation revocation hearing by a skilled and knowledgeable defense lawyer.


At a probation revocation hearing, both the prosecution and the defense will present arguments and evidence. Witnesses may be questioned and cross-examined.

In some cases, the prosecutor will ask the court to revoke probation and take the probationer into custody.

But a skilled defense attorney will tell your side of the story and will explain what happened in a way that puts you in the best possible light.

Finally, the judge will review the testimony and evidence and hand down a verdict based on the preponderance of the evidence.


When a judge determines that a probationer is guilty of violating probation, a number of sentencing options are available. The aim of probation is rehabilitation, so jail or prison is ordered for only the most egregious violations of probation.

If a judge determines that probation has been violated, the sentencing options can include:

1. additional conditions and terms for the probation
2. additional time serving probation
3. community service, fines, and/or house arrest
4. revocation of probation
5. jail or prison time

Most judges would prefer to keep an offender on probation even if the offender has violated probation. Probation allows convicted offenders to hold a job or pursue an education, perform community service, pay restitution, and take advantage of counseling or treatment resources.


If a probation violation involves a failure to pay restitution, fines, child support, or some other payment ordered by the court, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a payment plan or may arrange for you to work off the debt through community service.

Some probationers will be drug-tested frequently, but there are a number of reasons why a false positive result could be returned. If a probationer fails a drug test, a defense attorney will determine if the testing equipment was faulty or if the test was conducted improperly.

If the violation is a failure to meet with the probation officer, the probationer will need to prove that the failure was for a reason that genuinely could not be avoided – like hospitalization.

Committing a new crime is generally considered the most serious probation violation.


A number of factors come into play when a probationer in this state is charged with committing a new crime. A criminal defense attorney can help you if you are charged with a crime while you are on probation for another crime.

At a probation revocation hearing in Colorado, the probation officer and the prosecutor will usually be in agreement, and they can present the judge with a powerful case against you.

Unless a skilled defense lawyer is advocating on your behalf, you will have little hope of persuading a judge that you are not guilty of violating your probation.


If you are charged with any crime in the state of Colorado, get the legal help you need – immediately. That is your right.

A good defense attorney will safeguard your rights and develop a legal strategy to bring your case to its best possible conclusion.

But if the case against you is compelling, and you are convicted of a crime in Colorado, you should understand that if you are allowed to serve probation, you are fortunate.

If you are sentenced to probation, adhere to the conditions and terms. Take it seriously. The state of Colorado does.

In fact, you should take advantage of probation – if that is your sentence – and avoid any additional legal trouble by complying strictly with the conditions and terms of your probation.

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.

Our domestic violence attorneys must say….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.