FAQ: Criminal Defense
Frequently Asked Questions in Criminal Cases
These questions and answers are based on Colorado law as of January, 2008. Periodic updates will be made.
When you need personal legal advice and criminal defense service, call the attorneys at Liberty Law: 719-578-1183 or 303-795-0662 or email us for a free initial consultation.
- Can the police search?
- Can the police lie?
- What if a “victim” calls you?
- The police are offering me a deal
- The DA is offering me a plea with no jail time
- Getting out of jail on bond
Answer: No. In most situations the police need either your consent or a search warrant to enter your house. Most police officers will ask your permission to search because it saves them a great deal of hassle in getting a search warrant. The sufficiency of any search warrant can later be tested to see if it was properly attained. However, if you give consent, any defects in procedure or evidence will probably not help your situation and the search will probably be allowed.
Motor vehicles are a slightly different matter. Usually the police will be able to search your car if you are being arrested. However, this usually does not include stops for speeding or other minor traffic violations.
If you are stopped by the police in your vehicle, you always have the right to say “No, you cannot search my car.” If the police have the legal right to search it, they will do so anyway. If they were wrong, anything they found cannot be used in court. Unfortunately, if you consent to the search, the items found will likely be used against you, even if they had no legal right to search.
Without your consent, private investigators and detectives cannot search your car or home.
Answer: It is frightening that the answer is YES. The police are allowed to tell you an outright lie in their attempt to get you to incriminate yourself. One of the most common lies is to say they have witnesses or other evidence when they do not, or to tell someone that their accomplices have already confessed so they should as well.
Answer: Probably. The police frequently use what is called a “pretext phone call” to try to get a confession over the phone. This usually occurs in alleged sexual assaults and consists of the alleged victim calling the alleged perpetrator and asking him to apologize or explain why he did something. Most of these phone calls are recorded and forwarded to the district attorney.
Answer: Depends on the cop. Many police officers are men and women of their word, but some are not. The best policy is to have an attorney negotiate with the police and the district attorney and get the agreement in writing. Many times the police exaggerate the trouble you are in or the evidence they really have.
Many people wind up getting strung along as the police keep asking for just one more piece of information. Or the officer wears a wire just one more time and it never seems to reach a conclusion. An agreement should include exactly what benefit(s) you are to receive, what they are expecting, who it is they are trying to arrest, and how long or how many times must you assist. These things should be explored before putting yourself at risk as an informer.
Answer: Not necessarily. It really depends upon the level of violation and the charge itself. Many have accepted an unfair plea simply because they were promised that they would not get jail time. A number of these people probably had little or no risk of actually serving a jail sentence even if they went to trial and lost.
Most people who get misdemeanor charges do not go to jail on their first offense. In most cases this is because the district attorney could not get the judge to give a jail sentence to a first-time offender. For example, a class one misdemeanor, such as 3rd degree assault, is punishable by 6 months to 24 months in jail. However, the judges may and usually does suspend all or some of that jail time. It is best to have one of our attorneys look at your case to determine what a reasonable offer from the district attorney might be.
Individuals who are charged with felonies are looking at penalties ranging from 1 year to the rest of their life in prison. Again, in many cases it is possible and sometimes likely that the judge will forego any prison time in favor of probation. Further, many felony cases can be reduced to misdemeanors, or you may receive a deferred sentence (an agreement to stay out of trouble and comply with other specified conditions in return for a dismissal of the case). Additionally, the law and facts sometimes warrant that a case be totally dismissed.
Each case is different and you should have one of our attorneys review your situation before accepting any disposition to your case. Some criminal charges such as driving under restraint or suspension, sexual assaults, and statutory crimes of violence have mandatory jail or prison sentences. Information is power and to make an informed decision in your case you should consult one of our attorneys for a free initial consultation.
It is always best to contact an attorney as soon as you are charged with any crime. There are time limits and rules that must be followed to make sure that every opportunity to challenge and investigate the case against you is undertaken.
Answer: Probably. Most people charged with a crime in Colorado are entitled to have a reasonable bond set in their case. Felony cases usually have bonds ranging from $750 to $50,000. However, in very serious cases such as murder the bonds can be even higher. Misdemeanor cases usually have bonds ranging from $100 to $1,500.
To bond someone out of jail you must give the courts the amount of money equal to the bond. This money then serves as a guarantee that all court appearances will be made. Once the case is complete the money will be returned to the person who posted the bond. In serious cases it may be impossible for you to post the entire bond amount.
If you are unable to post a cash bond in the amount needed you can consult a professional bail bondsman. These companies will charge you a premium of usually 10-15 % to bond a person out of jail. This money is their fee and you will not receive any of that money back once the case is complete. Depending on the amount of the bond and the nature of the case, the bondsman might ask for some form of collateral on the bond (often it is a lien on your house or property).
Bondsmen do not represent you in a criminal case. They are not advocates, nor can they give you legal advice on your case. It is illegal for a bondsman to refer you to an attorney. One reason it is illegal for a bondsman to refer you to an attorney is that the bondsman may decide to revoke your bond at a later date and if you are using the lawyer he suggested it might be that your lawyer has a relationship with the bondsman. This means the attorney may have a conflict of interest and could not adequately be fair to you and the bondsman. It is better for you to have an attorney who is independent and does not owe any loyalty to your bondsman.