Criminal Lawyer In Boulder, CO
Facing criminal charges can be stressful and confusing, particularly if this is your first experience with the criminal courts. As your attorney, it would be our duty to make sure you knew what was happening at every stage of the game. This is your case and it affects your life.
From your arrest to the date of sentencing, you can go through many emotions. From disbelief, to anger, to relief. While you are experiencing this, you need a qualified attorney working diligently on your case to ensure you get the best possible results in court.
Every criminal case is different. The people involved, the charges, and the circumstances differ from case to case. However, despite these differences, most cases follow the same basic progression:
Colorado Criminal Arrest
You may have been arrested at the scene of a crime or had a warrant out for your arrest. Regardless of why the arrest happened, how it happened is very important to us.
Police have procedural rules they must follow when making an arrest. From reading you your rights to searching you and your property, everything must be done according to these rules. If any step is left out, it could jeopardize the prosecutions’ case against you.
An experienced criminal attorney lawyer can be a critical asset in resolving these issues.
We want to know exactly how your arrest was handled so we can help analyze the case against you. We will thoroughly analyze all evidence against you, particularly the police report, as part of a free criminal case evaluation. The best defense comes from knowing what the prosecution will do in certain situations.
First Appearance/ Misdemeanor Arraignment
When you are first brought in front of the judge, you will be advised of some of your rights.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, this may be your first opportunity to enter a plea. If you have not retained an attorney yet, you will plead “not guilty”, and wait for the opportunity to discuss your case with a defense lawyer.
If you are charged with a felony you will many times be entitled to a preliminary hearing before your arraignment (entry of plea). This means you will not be given the opportunity to enter a plea at this stage when charged with a felony.
At your first appearance/arraignment, bail can be addressed. Not all offenses are entitled to bail. A judge will make the determination, however, based on the law surrounding your charges and her belief on the likelihood of you appearing for future court appearances.
Bail is essentially a promise to return to court in the future. If a judge believes you won’t return or if she thinks you may pose a danger to yourself or the community if released, bail can be denied.
Keep in mind, if bail is denied, your attorney can ask the judge to reconsider at a later time.
Colorado Preliminary Hearing
A preliminary hearing is where the judge makes sure there is enough evidence for a case to go to trial.
This is not to determine your guilt or innocence, but just to make sure probable cause is present. It is sometimes known as a show cause hearing.
At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution will lay out the evidence they have and tell the court what they plan to prove at trial. IF the judge believes that sufficient evidence exists that IF a jury were to believe all of the evidence the prosecution has presented, AND drew all of the possible inferences from that evidence, COULD a jury convict you of the crimes you have been charged with, your case will then be “bound over” to District Court.
This hearing can be a good opportunity for a defense lawyer to get charges dropped before the case even begins, so it is critical to have an attorney on your side at this hearing who is prepared to fight for you.
Once your case is “bound over”, you will go before a District Court judge. to enter a plea to the charges, either guilty, not guilty, nolo contendere (no contest), or not guilty by reason of insanity.
Prior to trial, many things are done in preparation for you case. Both the defense and the prosecution want to be certain they are prepared for the facts that will be argued and the witnesses that will testify. As your defense attorneys it would be our job to ensure you will be getting a fair trial.
Some Pre-Trial Motions hearings may be held to ask the judge to rule on the admissibility of evidence.
Continuances may be requested for more time so that both parties are ready.
The majority of criminal cases both in Colorado and the nation end in plea bargains or plea agreements.
These are when you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge. The reason the prosecution typically tries to get defendants to agree to plea bargains can be to save them the work of trial or if they fear they might not get a conviction on the original charge.
The decision to accept a plea agreement is a big one and one that shouldn’t be made without the consultation of an experienced attorney. But it can be in your best interests to agree to a plea if you get a fair offer, and we feel that you are likely to be found guilty.
Of course, we are always prepared to fight and take your case to trial to prove your innocence.
When your trial date finally arrives you may feel a mixture of relief and anticipation. While all trials are different, the majority of them follow the same basic format.
- Opening Statements: Each side, beginning with the prosecution will have the opportunity to introduce their case to the judge and or jury.
- Presentation of Evidence: The longest stage of the trial, this is where the prosecution attempts to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you committed the crime you are charged with. Witnesses will be called and evidence presented by both sides. The prosecution and defense take turns both in presenting evidence and questioning witnesses. This back and forth can go on indefinitely until both parties are satisfied.
- Closing Arguments: Closing arguments are the last opportunity each side will have to address the jury and judge.
- Judge’s Instructions to the Jury: Before the jury deliberates the case, the judge will instruct them of their legal duties.
- Jury Deliberations: In most cases a jury will retire decide your fate. A jury’s decision must be unanimous.
- Verdict: Once the jury has reached a decision, the judge will enter a verdict.
If you are convicted or if you plead guilty to charges, the next step is to be sentenced. In most cases the judge will set your sentencing date 6-8 weeks after the guilty verdict or guilty plea to allow the probation department to conduct a pre-sentence investigation.