The 6 Step Process of a Criminal Case

Criminal Court CaseSo you’ve found yourself in a little bit of trouble and have hired a criminal defense lawyer to help you battle these charges. The court process is an extremely long and drawn out process that may be a little confusing at times. Here’s a breakdown of the essential steps of a criminal case as it moves through the court process:

  1. Arrest:

Typically, the initial contact you have with the criminal justice system is through an arrest being made. Either an officer of the law witnessed you commit a crime, or you had a warrant out for your arrest and got picked up from that. When you are arrested, you are read your rights, and you are then brought before a judge within 24 hours of being arrested. If this was not done in an adequate amount of time, you would have been released.

  1. Initial Appearance:

Your first appearance in court will be called your Initial Appearance. This is where the judge identifies who you are and informs you of the charges being brought against you. You are also read your rights and told that you have the right to an attorney. At this point, it is determined whether or not you will be paying for your own attorney or if one will need to be appointed for you. After this is decided, the judge will read you the conditions on how and when you will be released from jail. When your initial hearing has commenced, you now have the chance to look into lawyers and see who would best represent you.

  1. Preliminary Hearing:

In instances where the judge needs to hear initial evidence and testimony from witnesses and the prosecuting attorney, a preliminary hearing will be held. However, if it is determined that you most likely committed the crime you are being accused of, then a preliminary hearing will be skipped and you will be assigned a date for your arraignment.

  1. Arraignment:

The next step in the court process is the arraignment. This is a very important step in the process, as it is the point where you, the defendant, will enter into a plea deal. When taking a plea deal, you will either plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest (nolo contendere). If you decide to go with a guilty plea or a no contest, your judge will assign a date to sentence you for the crime. On the other hand, if you enter into a not guilty plea this is where you will be heading to trial. A date will be set and you will be told to show up ready for trial.

  1. Trial:

The trial is a formal examination of evidence before a judge, and typically before a jury. In order to decide guilt in your case of criminal proceeding. The trail process includes a number of steps, including:

Opening Statements: In the opening statements of the trial, the prosecuting attorney will get a chance to speak first and present their case and findings against you. After the prosecuting attorney has given their opening statement, your lawyer will give an opening statement or comment. They may wait until later in the trial to give the details of your defense.

Witnesses: In order for a witness to testify and be held accountable for what they present to the court, a witness must take an oath or affirmation. Witnesses then will have the chance to testify, then be cross-examined by the opposing side.

Closing Arguments: After all the facts and evidence of the case have been presented, both the prosecutor and your attorney will have a chance to make their closing statements. The prosecutor will go first, then your lawyer will get a chance to address the judge and jury one last time.

Instructing the Jury: Once the closing statements have been made, the judge will instruct the jury on the instructions of the deliberation and the laws that applies to the case.

Jury Deliberations: The next step in the process is the jury deliberations. This is where your fate lies and where you will be found either guilty or not guilty of the charges being brought against you. The jurors will go into a separate deliberating room, choose a foreman to lead the discussion, and review the facts of the case. Once they have reached a verdict, the court will be back in session.

Verdict: Finally, the foreman of the group of jurors will present a written verdict to the judge, and will be read aloud. If you are found not guilty, you will be released immediately. In the unfortunate event that you are found guilty, you will then be assigned a date for sentencing. In the time that you are waiting for your sentencing date, you will most likely remain in custody until your sentencing date.

  1. Sentencing:

If you’ve made it to sentencing, you received a guilty verdict, and now will find out how long you will be punished for the crime that you committed. At the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor and your lawyer will both give their suggestions on how severe your punishment should be.

The court system can be an incredibly overwhelming and confusing set of processes. If you are in a situation that will take you through this process, having a lawyer can be an incredible benefit to you. Lawyers not only know the system but are extremely educated in how to handle criminal cases. Call Liberty Law Center today if you want to know more about how we can help in cases like yours!

 

Liberty Law Center Expands Practice Into Family Law

Liberty Law Center is pleased to announce two exciting additions to our law practice that will allow us to provide new services to our clients. First, we will be available to represent clients in all aspects of family law – dissolution of marriage, parental responsibility and parenting time, child support and post-decree modification. Family law continues to be a complicated, emotional and changing field in Colorado that is filled with hidden obstacles for people trying to represent themselves. At Liberty Law Center, we offer over two decades of experience handling family law matters.

Second, we will be representing defendants who have been charged with felony DUI. Effective August 5th, Colorado has made it a class 4 felony to be charged with DUI when the accused has 3 prior DUI convictions. A felony DUI conviction carries a possible prison sentence of 2-6 years.

Dealing with major legal problems can be very stressful. Having an experienced attorney is important to obtaining a successful resolution of your case. Should you, members of your family, friends or co-workers have the need for legal representation in a DUI, criminal or family law case, we hope you will contact us to discuss your case. We will continue to offer a free half-hour consultation

Felony DUI Law Goes Into Effect Aug 5, 2015

Colorado’s felony DUI law takes effect today.  If you are charged with a DUI that occurred on or after August 5, 2015 and you have 3 prior convictions for DUI or Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI),  you could be charged with a Class 4 felony.  This carries a presumptive Department of Corrections (DOC) sentence of 2 to 6 years.  Before the court can sentence to DOC, it must determine that incarceration “is the most suitable option given the facts and circumstances of the case, including the Defendant’s willingness to participate in treatment.”  The court is also to consider whether all other reasonable and appropriate sanctions that are available to the court have been exhausted, do not appear likely to be successful or present an unacceptable risk to public safety.  It does not matter how long ago the prior convictions occurred.

Should I request the officer for the DMV hearing?

Clients will ask us if they should request the officer for the DMV Express Consent hearing.  We usually tell them to say no, unless the arresting officer was from the Colorado State Patrol.  This way, we can review the police reports that DMV sends to the client about two weeks after the DMV hearing has been requested. After reviewing the reports we can then decide whether to subpoena the officers for the hearing.

We recently won an Express Consent hearing when the arresting agency sent DMV the police reports for the wrong person.  The only document in the packet that pertained to our client was the Notice of Revocation.  There was insufficient information in the packet to support revoking the client’s license.  Had the client requested the officer for the hearing, he could have testified about the stop and subsequent chemical test and filled in the missing information.

If you have received a Notice of Revocation, you have a very short time to request a hearing.  You will have to make some decisions before you have seen the reports the arresting officer has submitted to DMV.  This is one reason why it is important to talk with an experienced DUI lawyer right away,

DUI Arrests for Super Bowl Weekend

DUI arrests in Colorado over Super Bowl weekend were made on 321 drivers according to information released by the Colorado Department of Transportation. About 100 law enforcement agencies were involved in “The Heat is On” enforcement for the reporting period of January 31 to February 3, 2014.  On Super Bowl Sunday, 149 people were arrested statewide. The total number for the weekend is 100 arrests lower than for the same period in 2013.

Locally, agencies in the Colorado Springs region reported 36 DUI arrests. The statistics  from local agencies are: Colorado Springs Police – 21; El Paso County Sheriff – 6; State Patrol – 5; Woodland Park Police – 2; Fountain Police – 1 and Cripple Creek -1;

CDOT is reporting that the next “The Heat Is On” enforcement will occur over St Patrick’s Day – March 14 through March 17.

If you were arrested recently for a DUI, call us at Daniel, Thom and Katzman, PC for a free consultation

DUI Drivers Will Have Longer Interlock Requirements

A DUI driver whose license is revoked in Colorado for a blood or breath test of .15 or higher will have longer interlock requirements starting January 1st. Colorado law currently classifies someone as a “persistent drunk driver” if the driver has a BAC of .17 or higher. Under the new law passed earlier this year, the Colorado legislature expanded the use of ignition interlock devices by reducing the persistent drunk driver BAC level to .15.
The change going into effect on January 1st will require a driver whose license is revoked for having an excess alcohol content with a BAC of .15 or higher to have an interlock in their car for 2 years and be enrolled in and complete a level II alcohol and drug education program as a condition to reinstating driving privileges. Drivers revoked for the first time will still be able to reinstate after not driving for 1 month.
The lower BAC level will mean that more people will have to have the interlock in their car for a longer period. This change was part of a wide-spread expansion of the interlock program that will also allow drivers who were revoked for refusing a chemical test or for having multiple DUI convictions to reinstate earlier than currently allowed provided they have an interlock device in their car. If you are wondering how you will be affected by these changes, please call Daniel, Thom & Katzman, PC at 719-578-1183 for a free consultation.

Refusing The Chemical Test In Colorado?

We are often asked about refusing the chemical test in Colorado and “what happens if I refuse the chemical test?’ The answers to these important questions, may be different now after the Colorado legislature’s recent expansion of the ignition interlock program.

For many years, a driver who refused a blood or breath test was subject to a 1 year loss of his driver’s license. There were no provisions for an early reinstatement or a restricted license to drive to work, to therapy appointments or to take kids to school. In Colorado, where public transportation is not frequently accessible, not being able to drive for 1 year could be an extremely harsh penalty. That will be changing on January 1, 2014 with the passage of HB 1240 earlier this year.

HB 1240 allows a person whose license has been revoked for 1 year or more because of a refusal to apply for early reinstatement after not driving for 2 months if the driver installs an ignition interlock system in his car. Since this early reinstatement provision allows DMV to grant an ignition interlock license on January 1st, a driver who was revoked for a refusal before November 2013 will be eligible to reinstate when the law takes effect.

HB1240 will also allow a driver who is revoked for a year or more for a DUI/DWAI conviction or an excess BAC to reinstate after 1 month of not driving if the driver installs the interlock. Previously, a driver with 2 DUI/DWAI convictions in 5 years or a second Express Consent revocation was revoked for 1 year and not allowed to drive for any reason during the revocation.

It is obvious that the Colorado Legislature is expanding the interlock program. If you have had DMV revoke your license for a year or more because of a DUI, you might consider consulting with a lawyer as soon as possible to see how the changes in the law may apply to you.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH DECIDES NOT TO RESUME BLOOD ALCOHOL TESTING

We recently learned that the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) has decided not to resume blood alcohol testing in DUI cases. CDPHE suspended testing on July 3, 2013 pending a review by an outside independent lab. After CDPHE suspended testing this summer, most law enforcement agencies began to send their blood samples to private labs for analysis. Apparently CDPHE decided that there was no public health need to justify doing DUI testing and that private labs have filled the void. In general, the private labs have been charging more for testing than CDPHE and we expect that those costs will be passed on to defendants who are charged and convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI).

FIREARMS POSSESSION PROHIBITED FOR THOSE CHARGED WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

A NEW LAW GOES INTO EFFECT PREVENTING PEOPLE WHO HAVE A PROTECTION ORDER FOR ACTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FROM POSSESSING A WEAPON OR AMMUNITION

SB 13-197 recently went into effect which will prohibit the possession of firearms and ammunition by persons who are charged with or convicted of acts of domestic violence. A person will have 24 hours after he or she has been served in court with a mandatory protection order to relinquish any firearm or ammunition or 48 hours if the protection order is served outside of court. A person may sell or transfer the firearm or ammunition to a federally licensed firearms dealer or arrange for storage with a law enforcement agency or sell or transfer the firearm or ammunition to a private party who is permitted to possess a firearm. If the transfer is to a firearms dealer or private party, a written receipt acknowledging the transfer must be obtained and filed with the court within 3 days of the transfer. The failure to file the receipt in time is a new violation. When the order ends, the firearms dealer will have to perform a successful background check before returning the firearm or ammunition. It is our understanding that most police agencies are not storing weapons or ammunition for people who fall under the provisions of this law.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SUSPENDS BLOOD ALCOHOL TESTING

 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced on Friday that it will suspend blood alcohol and drug testing at the state lab effective July 3, 2013. The lab will complete the testing of samples currently in process. Untested samples originally sent to the state lab will be sent to a private lab for testing. In addition, the outgoing Executive Director of the Department announced that 800 blood alcohol samples were being retested by a private lab, AIT Labs, to verify the state lab’s results. The 800 samples are to be selected from test results completed during the last 12 months.
During the period that the state lab is suspending testing, the Association of Public Health Laboratories will be conducting an audit of the state lab’s procedures. Lab staff members will receive additional training and the lab’s equipment will be inspected to see that board of health certification standards are being met.
This announcement comes after the recent revelation that a workplace investigation conducted for the Department of Public Health and Environment resulted in a report on March 18th that was critical of the lab’s former supervisor who retired from the Department on May 31st. That report was not made available to defense attorneys until early June. The report identified problems with supervision and training of lab personnel, potential security lapses where samples were stored and possible bias by the former lab supervisor in favor of the prosecution.
The decision to indefinitely suspend blood alcohol and drug testing caps a tumultuous year at the Department of Health. Last year, we learned that a lab analyst improperly tested blood samples that resulted in inaccurate results being reported in approximately 170 tests. We requested records from the Department so we might uncover why those inaccurate results occurred. The Department of Health refused to release those records to us. The lab analyst involved with those tests complained about inadequate training and supervision when he worked at the lab. These complaints were corroborated by the recent workplace investigation. Unfortunately, the Department of Health still has not released information about what was done wrong that caused the inaccurate results last year. We also have to question why 800 samples are being retested. Have other problems occurred at the lab that haven’t been released? Hopefully, the audit will answer some of those questions.