Graffiti or Vandalism?: Walking the Fine Line

During and after the last US presidential campaign, well-known graffiti artist, Shepard Fairey received constant attention from the media for work he did for the Obama campaign.  While the work he did for the campaign did much to advance the career of one of the candidates, Mr. Fairey’s work likely caused a blurring of the line between what many people consider “art” and what many others consider graffiti—or vandalism.  Indeed, with all the controversy surrounding Mr. Fairey’s work—along with the work of other popular well-known graffiti artists—many artists today could easily cross that fine line between art and vandalism and quickly find themselves facing criminal charges.

Should you find yourself charged with criminal property damage, you face serious consequences including heavy fines, prison sentences, felony charges—depending on which offense—and even suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.  The sentence you receive, should the judge convict you of the crime, depends on both the number of offenses and the value of the damage to another’s property.

Consequences for Defacing Property (Vandalism) in the state of Colorado

-Damages less than $500 can result in 3 months to 1 year in jail $250 to $1,000 in fines

-Damages of $500 to $1,000 can result in 6 – 18 months in jail and $500 – $5,000 in fines

-Damages of $1,000 to $5,000 can result in 2 – 6 years in prison and $2,000 to $500,000 in fines (felony charges)

-Damages of more than $20,000 can result in 4 – 12 years in prison and $3,000 to $750,000 in fines (felony charges)

To protect yourself from receiving some of the harsher sentences, should you find yourself facing charges for defacing property, you should seek-out a Colorado criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  By contacting a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately (to ensure you receive the best legal representation possible), not only could you potentially spare yourself the stress of financial penalties, you could also spare yourself a prison sentence—or even the conviction entirely.  Here, you may want to consider that you can receive these same sentences for aiding or permitting the defacement of property.  For instance, do you know what you would you do if you just happen to walk upon a vandal and someone accused you of having participated in the defacement of property?  A solid legal defense can assist you in your efforts to protect you or someone you know from receiving a harsh or undeserved sentence.

“DUI Defense: A Valuable Investment”

If you’ve been charged with a DUI in the state of Colorado—or in any other state for that matter—then you probably have innumerable questions concerning the possible consequences should a judge convict you.  For instance, you may have questions about whether or not you’ll spend time in jail or whether or not you’ll keep your license.  Furthermore, should your particular circumstance have a unique character—such as, a law enforcement officer charged you while you were out of state and this is you’ve been previously convicted of driving under the influence—then you will undoubtedly find yourself in the need of legal aide.   Indeed, even if the circumstances surrounding the charge do not seem particularly unique, you should still do everything within your power to contact a DUI criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

By obtaining a solid defense—depending on the nature of your alleged offense—your chances of a judge reducing your sentence or altogether dismissing your charges significantly improves.  As such, you should never hesitate to reach-out to a qualified Colorado DUI defense attorney immediately after you’ve received a DUI or DWAI charge.  While some people may worry or have a deal of great anxiety at the prospect of hiring an attorney to represent them in a court of law, those individuals should consider that the costs of simply accepting whatever charges are thrown their way can be significantly greater than any attorney’s fees.  For instance, an offense can easily result in fines exceeding $1,000.00.  Also—something else to consider—is that the costs don’t necessarily have dollar signs attached to them.  Many individuals convicted of DUI or DWAIs must give-up their valuable time performing community service, attending alcohol-awareness class, or spending time in jail.  Furthermore, they end-up living with a stigma that affects them in the not only in their day-to-day interactions with and among members of their communities, but also in their professional interactions.  For instance, how might a DUI or DWAI conviction affect you if your career if your profession requires that you have a clean driving record?

In the end, should you find yourself facing DUI or DWAI charges, you’ll want to make sure you have the best defense available to protect yourself from consequences that may follow you for a lifetime.  While legal fees sometimes scare alleged offenders away from a seeking a quality defense, those who are wise will understand that the potential consequences of not  having a good defense in your corner far outweigh any legal fees.  Having a resource on hand that knows the rights afforded to you under the law will prove to be one of the most valuable investments you could ever make.

Medical Marijuana: Approved and Denied Conditions

use of marijuana for those suffering from debilitating diseases, the policies and statutes governing the use of medical marijuana require users to adhere to a strict set of rules.  For instance, the state of Colorado requires those who wish to use prescribed medical marijuana to treat their conditions must submit an application to the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry and pay a registration fee in order to receive a card.  While this card allows users to access marijuana and grants permission for them to use the substance for medical purposes, anyone who does not adhere to these procedures and attempts to use marijuana could face serious criminal charges.

Denied Debilitating Medical Conditions

-Asthma

-Atherosclerosis

-Chron’s Disease

-Diabetes Mellitus, types 1 & 2

-Diabetic Retinopathy

-Hepatitis C

-Hypertension

-Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

-Opiod Dependence

-Post Tramautic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

-Severe Anxiety and Clinical Depression

-Tourette’s Syndrome

Because state law does not approve the use of medical marijuana for a large number of debilitating diseases, individuals should not assume that just because they have any debilitating disease that they may obtain and use the controlled substance.  Indeed, even if you suffer from one of the approved medical conditions, if you don’t adhere to statutes and ordinances of your state and fail to obtain a card from the registry, you could find yourself facing criminal charges, fines, and prison sentences that will only add to your existing woes.

If you are resident of Colorado and you are currently suffering from one of the approved debilitating medical conditions, then Colorado criminal defense attorney—along with an approved physician–can assist you in legally procuring marijuana for medical purposes.  If you’ve been approved and received your registry card, you may still want to seek the advice of Colorado criminal defense attorney as a way of reducing your criminal liability.  For instance, if you possess or grow marijuana for medical purposes, you may want to place the substance in as few containers as possible while also clearly labeling the containers. Doing so will reduce confusion and suspicion in the off-chance law enforcement search your home.

Approved Debilitating Medical Conditions

-cancer

-glaucoma

-infection with or positive status for human immunodeficiency virus

Symptoms of Approved Debilitating Medical Conditions

– cachexia

-severe pain

-severe nausea
-seizures, including those that are characteristic of epilepsy

-persistent muscle spasms, including those that are characteristic of multiple sclerosis

Killed “Pot DUI Bill” Doesn’t Mean Marijuana Users Off the Hook

In spring of this year, members of Colorado’s legislature voted down a bill aimed at clearly defining the legal limit for establishing a DUI for all those suspected of driving under the influence, specifically, of marijuana.  House Bill 1261, more commonly known as the “Pot DUI Bill,” would  allow law enforcement officers to charge those registering 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood with a DUI.  Despite some initial support the bill received from communities and many members of the state senate, the bill eventually met its demise due to concerns over whether the proposed blood-THC content rubric was a clear indicator that a suspect was driving under the influence of marijuana. One such concern related to the amount of time THC has been known to stay in users’ systems; for instance, a test that lawmakers considered when deciding on the bill demonstrated that 5 nanograms of THC per millimeter of blood remained in users’ systems for as long as 15 hours after use.  As such, the lawmakers did not feel the bill could provide law enforcement with a sufficient indicator for charging those suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana.

While the Colorado legislature did not pass House Bill 1261, and while currently, Colorado law doesn’t clearly specify how much THC will land you a DUI charge, the statutes do provide a very clear explanation that law enforcement officers will charge you with a DUI or DWAI (and courts will convict you) if they suspect you cannot safely operate a vehicle due to use of drugs or alcohol or if you fail a sobriety test.

DUI and DWAI charges have serious consequences.  Whether you’ve receive charges for suspected use of alcohol or suspected use of marijuana (or other drugs), you should do everything within your power to contact a DUI criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  A qualified Colorado DUI criminal defense attorney can help you with the many questions you have concerning the circumstances of your arrest, and he or she can also make sure you receive proper representation in court.  Without the help of a skilled and experience legal professional, not only could you find yourself facing a potential conviction, you could also find yourself facing an overly harsh sentence.

Criminal Charges for Grandmothers

In June of 2011, owners of the Promenade Shops of Briargate in Manitou Springs, CO accused two grandmothers of shoplifting approximately $3,700.00 worth of inventory.  Both women admitted to stealing an assortment of jewelry and clothes, and when asked by the Manitou Springs Police for access to the stolen inventory, they complied. While the two women charged with charged with shoplifting may have already admitted to theft, they—and anyone else finding themselves in charged with theft—should contact a criminal defense attorney without delay.  Doing so will ensure fair treatment under the law even in those circumstances wherein the accused have already admitted to the offense.

Any persons charged and convicted of theft in Colorado face serious consequences including time in jail, permanent criminal record, and in many cases, permanent banishment from the stores from which they stole inventory.  While the sentences for theft may have a similar, general character, the degree of the sentences can vary greatly according to the value of goods stolen.  Those who’ve stolen goods valued at $1,000 or less face misdemeanor charges, up to a year and a half in prison, and fines up to $5,000, whereas those who’ve stolen goods valued over $1,000 and $20,000 face up to 12 years in prison, felony charges, and up to $750,000 in prison.  Those who use force to commit the theft automatically face enhanced fines and sentences—up to $100,000—and so do those who have been convicted of theft crimes committed within the past 6 months—up to $20,000.  Furthermore, those convicted of theft will likely carry those criminal charges on their background for the rest of their lives.

No matter what your age or background, should you face charges of theft, a Colorado criminal defense attorney can assist you by providing you with the information you need as well as the defense your case requires in order for you to receive fair treatment under the law.  Failure to do so could result in heavy fines that could bankrupt you as well as a lengthy prison sentence that could separate you from your loves for a considerable amount of time.

Check Fraud in Colorado and Penalties

Times of financial hardship often lead people to engage in uncharacteristic and risky behaviors that can potentially to lead to severe consequences.  In some cases, individuals feel so financially strained that they write checks to purchase items—sometimes items of necessity—when they know they do not have the financial means to cover.  In other cases, individuals (not necessarily facing financial hardship) find that they’ve been confused of check fraud—plain and simple.  In either case, such individuals need to know they have options available to them should a law enforcement officer charge them with check fraud or other related criminal charges.  A Colorado criminal defense attorney can ensure that you have all the resources at your disposal to receive fair representation when faced with such charges—or fight such charges in the event you feel you’ve been wrongfully charged.

A qualified criminal defense attorney should be considered a necessity by anyone charged with check fraud. Those charged with check fraud should know that if they don’t have solid legal resources at their disposal, then they can potentially receive a sentence in which they pay the maximum fine or serve the maximum prison sentence allowable. Worse yet, these individuals can also potentially be convicted of crimes they did not commit, and consequently, those individuals could spend funds on additional legal fees in attempts to appeal your conviction.  In either case, a criminal charge will appear on their records, and this charge may follow them for the rest of their lives.

Check Fraud Penalties in Colorado

-Less than $500: 3 months to 1 year in jail; fines of $250 – $1,000

-$500 to $1,000: 6 – 18 months in jail; fines of $500 – $5,000

-$1,000 or more: 1 year to 18 months in prison; fines of $1,000 – $100,000

If you’ve been charged with check fraud, you should do everything within your power to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.  By providing your attorney with all the facts early on, you significantly increase your chances of your case prevailing.  That said, however, your attorney will need to review all facts and specific nuances of your case in order to determine whether or not the entire charge can be dropped or whether or not you can just avoid receiving the maximum penalties.

DUIs in Colorado: Far-Reaching Consequences

While most people understand that DUIs or DWIs have hard, tangible consequences (in the form of fines and sentences) attached to them, many do not fully consider the intangible—yet detrimental–consequences such convictions can have on other aspects of their lives.   For instance, should news of your conviction reach members of your community, how might you cope with the day to day stress of explaining your behavior?  Furthermore, how might you cope with the stigma you receive if the conviction occurred while you were currently involved in your children’s and friends’ children’s extra-curricular activities (i.e., carpooling)?  Finally, what if you had your license revoked or received a probation sentence as a result of your conviction, and as such, you couldn’t visit loved ones in another part of the country—what might they think?

Unfortunately, a DUI conviction can carry with it a strong stigma among members within your community—not exactly a financial stress, but stress nonetheless.  Also, unless you have the ability to get your record expunged by paying close attention to your state’s specific laws, then the DUI can remain on your record for the rest of your life—something you may have to explain multiple times and in multiple venues.  For instance, while a conviction won’t appear on your credit report, you can expect this misdemeanor to appear on a criminal background check—which can have serious consequences for you if you’re looking for employment in the transportation industry.  How might you explain that during an interview, and should you lose the job-opportunity, would you be comfortable explaining to your family the reason a potential employer turned you down?

Possible consequences of a first-time DUI or DWI conviction in Colorado:

  • -fines anywhere from $300.00 to $1,500.00
  • -prison sentence anywhere from 5 days to 1 year
  • -mandatory attendance at Alcohol Education classes (24 hours over 12 weeks – average cost of $525.00)
  • -90 day to 1 year license-suspension (suspension occurs automatically if request for hearing with DMV doesn’t occur within seven days)
  • -60 to 120 hours of community service
  • -unsupervised probation for up to 2 years
  • -30% increase in insurance rates or potentially dropped from insurance plan altogether

A DUI arrest has the potential to turn into a stressful ordeal that can seriously impact many aspects of your life—and not simply the financial aspect.   Should law enforcement arrest you or someone you know for driving under-the-influence, you should contact a DUI criminal defense attorney immediately.  Not doing so could result in you losing your money, your time, and your reputation.

Crime Stats and Colorado’s Metro Areas

In November of 2010, a news outlets across the country ran feature articles on an annual study published by the Uniform Crime Reporting Program.  The study sought to identify some of the “most dangerous cities” in America by examining 347 metropolitan areas across in the US and gauge them according to each areas’ statistics on incidents of crimes including murder,  theft, aggravated assault, and rape–to name a few.  While most cities in Colorado received favorable reviews in the study, more than a couple of Colorado metro areas appeared in the publication in questionable positions.  For instance, the city of Pueblo managed to make it to the 112th—the most dangerous of Colorado’s metro areas—while Denver landed the 141st position and Colorado Springs ended up at 175.  (The report listed Centennial as the safest Colorado metro area which sits at 378th among others cities in the nation—64% below the national average.)  While Pueblo may not necessarily sit among the ranks of metro areas with the greatest incidents of crimes, the city’s ranking certainly gives one cause to raise an eyebrow or simply reconsider the degree of safety one might normally take for granted.

Rankings and statistics such as the ones cited in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (or others cited in the Pueblo Police Department’s Annual Report) bring to light the persistence of the prevalence of crime in our cities and towns, and indeed, our everyday lives.  Indeed, one side-effect of these reports is that they nod toward the likelihood you or someone you know could find yourself in need of a Colorado criminal defense attorney.

Despite communities’ or governing bodies’ best efforts to keep their members safe and out of harm’s way, you may still need a back-up plan, as it seems crime has a way of continually resurfacing—always lurking just around the corner.   Truly, in a city—any city—where statistics point to an elevated rate of crime—and especially those cities wherein  large numbers have been the victims of crime—you may want to gain a more robust understanding of your rights than you have currently.  For instance, would you know what actions you would take in order to protect yourself should someone accuse you of theft or assault?  What if you were present while a crime occurred and a frightened witness mistakenly identified you as an accomplice—or even a perpetrator?  Should you ever find yourself in one of the unfortunate situations, you should contact a criminal defense attorney for immediately.

Probations, Violations, and Consequences

Depending on the circumstances, judges often decide to reduce the maximum penalties for a crime, and as you may already know, many offenders receive a probation sentence. Generally, probation is a type of criminal sentence issued by a judge that frees a convicted person into the community instead of sending the criminal to jail or prison—provided he or she follows specific conditions.  Typically, offenders who receive probation penalties have a strict set of parameters to which they must adhere in order to avoid returning to court and receiving the maximum penalty for their offenses.

Probation officers play a crucial role in this process by putting offenders through a strenuous rehabilitation process that ensures the offenders adhere to those strict sets of parameters.  Those who don’t adhere to those strict parameters—or who accidentally violate those parameters by say, visiting an out-of-state family member—will often be issued a bench-warrant.  In those cases, violators of probation must face the judge—often the same one who initially sentenced them—for a hearing, and the violator does not have the benefit of a jury.

If you’ve been convicted of a crime and you’ve received a probation sentence, you should take care that you have all the information you need to ensure you don’t violate your probation.  A Colorado criminal defense attorney can provide you with the information you need to ensure you don’t accidentally do something to initiate a motion to revoke your probation.  The consequences of violating your probation may be severe.

For instance, not only could you receive the original sentence and associated penalties for the committed crime, you could also receive the maximum sentence should the judge decide against you.  Such a sentence could be devastating, especially if you were not actually—or unknowingly—in violation of your probation.   Consider also, that oftentimes, simple clerical errors result in the issuance of a wrongful bench-warrant.  Should you find yourself in this situation, would you know what to do to ensure you didn’t unnecessarily receive the maximum penalty?  In the event you’ve been convicted of a crime and received a probation sentence, you may want to consider contacting a criminal defense attorney to stay informed and avoid worst-case scenarios.

Possible Issues with BAC Devices

In May of 2011, the Santa Clara County Defense Attorney of California notified the criminal defense bar of a faulty blood alcohol content (BAC) measuring device.  Beginning in 2010, both the San Jose Police Department and the Palo Alto Police Department started relying on the device in part when administering field sobriety tests to motorists suspected of driving under the influence.  The measuring device, the Alcho-Sensor V has been identified as incorrectly registering BAC, and as a result, the DA notified all relevant DUI defense attorneys as well as those unrepresented parties, so they could consider appeals.  Law enforcement officers have many ways of determining whether an individual has been driving under the influence—from breath-alcohol content (BrAC) measuring devices that they can administer at check-points to blood-alcohol content devices (BAC) that they can administer elsewhere.

BAC devices must work correctly, and administers of those tests must also adhere to a strict standard of rules and regulations that dictate their proper registration and application.  For instance, The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment specifies that BAC devices must be certified and approved by the Department of Evidential Breath Alcohol Tests (EBAT).  Furthermore, administers of the tests must have completed certification by completing at least 8 hours of training and score 80% or higher on a written exam.   Even after certification of the law enforcement officer and certification of the device, the law enforcement officer must then adhere to another set of specific rules when administering the tests.  For instance, when administering a BrAC test, the law enforcement officer or other administer must observe the individual receiving the test for a period of no less than twenty minutes to ensure no bodily functions—such as belching or regurgitating—interfere with the test.  If those specific conditions have not been met, then the validity of the test may be in question.

With so many variables in this equation, a DUI defense attorney should be sought immediately by anyone arrested for allegedly driving under the influence.  The likelihood that oversight has occurred in at least one of these areas runs relatively high.  As such, you’ll want to make sure you have all the facts at hand.  Don’t hesitate if you find yourself in this situation.  Contact a legal professional who can advise you of your options right away and who will suggest a prudent and intelligent course of action.