Articles Posted in Criminal Charges

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that no person shall “for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” This section is known as the double jeopardy clause. Like all Constitutional rights, however, courts have struggled for years to decide exactly what the words mean. What counts as being tried for the “same” offense?

In a case called Blockburger v. United States (1932), the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a person could be tried for two very similar crimes, as long as each charge contained at least one element the other charge did not. Criminal charges are made up of parts called “elements,” and to convict a person of a crime, a judge or jury must find that each element has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
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In some Colorado criminal cases, a person may be charged with an “inchoate” (in-KOH-ate) offense. An “inchoate” offense occurs when a person attempts to carry out a crime, but doesn’t succeed. An experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney can help explain the different types of inchoate offenses.

The charge of “criminal attempt” may be brought in Colorado if the prosecutor believes that a person “engaged in conduct constituting a substantial step toward” the completion of a crime, and that the person was in the required frame of mind to make the actual crime illegal. For instance, to show that a person charged with attempted first-degree murder actually committed attempted first-degree murder, the prosecutor must show both that the person took a “substantial step” toward committing murder and that the planned murder was premeditated.

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“Conspiracy” occurs when two or more people agree together that at least one of them will attempt or commit a crime and the others will either participate or help. A conspiracy also requires at least one “overt act” be committed to move the conspiracy along. The crime doesn’t actually have to be completed, as long as an agreement and an overt act exist.
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Two southwest Colorado men are facing short jail sentences for violating a federal law that prohibits disturbing ancient artifacts, according to a recent article in the Durango Herald.

The charges stem from a seniors’ hike at Canyon of the Ancients National Monument that took place in May 2011. Both of the charged men were part of the hike, which was just one of several they had organized for active seniors over age 50. The hikes were three- or four-hour excursions into the national monument that ended at an old burial site, at which visitors could see a human skull poking out from a shallow grave.

During the May 2011 hike, according to federal prosecutors, one of the men picked up the exposed skull to show it to the other hikers. He did not realize at the time that this action violates a federal criminal law prohibiting “excavation and removal” of archaeological sites on federal lands, including burial sites and the artifacts in them.

Now, the man faces ten days in jail for the act. Another man faces three days in jail for organizing the fateful hike.
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Three people who were wounded when a gunman opened fire in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater on July 20, 2012 have petitioned the court to allow them to view sealed documents, according to a news report from KOAA. The petitioners want to use the documents in their civil lawsuit against the theater company.

The documents requested include the police affidavits seeking search and arrest warrants in the case. They also include transcripts of several calls to 9-1-1 that were made from inside and around the movie theater on the night of the shooting. The petitioners argue that these documents contain key information that affects their lawsuit against the theater.
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Officials in El Paso County are taking a second look at how criminal background checks are processed after a Widefield School District bus driver was arrested recently on suspicion of criminal behavior. The bus driver’s background check had not revealed a guilty plea he entered in a separate case over a decade earlier.

The recent arrest was not related to the guilty plea on the bus driver’s record, but authorities claim the plea involved harboring a runaway, which should have disqualified the driver from working for a school district. Normally, a criminal background check of school district employees would have turned up the earlier guilty plea, but in the driver’s case, his background check did not. The background check also failed to show the man’s past traffic tickets.
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court_seal_1107940.jpgThe Colorado Court of Appeals held recently that, in order for a state agency to receive restitution from someone convicted of a crime, the agency had to be specifically listed in the restitution requirement or in the statute prohibiting the underlying crime, according to an article in Law Week Online.

The Court of Appeals made this ruling in a case in which a person convicted of causing injuries in a CO traffic accident was ordered to pay about $400,000 to a state medical facility to cover the medical care for the injured person. The Court of Appeals reversed the order, saying that because the law under which the person was convicted didn’t say state agencies could receive restitution, it was not proper to require restitution to be paid.
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Crime rates in Larimer County and throughout Colorado decreased in 2011, according to a recent article in The Coloradoan. Larimer County has a total population of 305,525 people.

police-8041078.jpgAn ongoing study of statewide crime rates found that the total number of recorded crimes dropped in Larimer County this past year, from 10,622 reports in 2010 to 10,311 reports in 2011.

Crime rates decreased in nearly every major category. For instance, the number of reported rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries, arson, and motor vehicle thefts were all lower in Larimer County for 2011 than they were in 2010, according to the report.
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The Northern Colorado Regional Crime Lab is on track to open by the first of September 2013, after Ward County increased the funds it’s willing to dedicate to the project, according to a recent article in the Times-Call.

So far, Ward County, Loveland, Larimer County, and Greeley have committed to providing funds, resources, and personnel to build and operate the crime lab. Fort Collins, Colorado is expected to join the project as well. The tentative plan is to build the 200,000-square foot facility on U.S. 34 near Colorado 257.police_tape_4166625.jpg

Ward County’s recent increase in funds raised its total contribution to $4 million, enough to build the crime lab facilities. Once the crime lab is built, the other local governments involved in the project will work to keep the facility open and operating, processing evidence from suspected crime scenes throughout northern Colorado.
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Community corrections, or “halfway houses,” provide a supervised environment while still allowing the people in the programs to work or otherwise participate in the community. Colorado has used community corrections programs for many years to put some people convicted of crimes in Colorado in programs better suited to their individual needs than traditional jail or prison sentences.home-2737475.jpg

A 2004 study found that community corrections programs help a majority of participants avoid another conviction and manage addiction, anger, and other problems. The study found that between 65 and 80 percent of program participants successfully completed all parts of the community corrections program to which they were assigned. Depending on each person’s needs, these program parts may have included family counseling, anger management, treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, and other requirements.
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Per person, Colorado was in the top five states with the most complaints of Internet-related scams last year, according to a recent article in The Sacramento Bee. In terms of total number of complaints or total dollar amounts lost due to Internet scams, however, Colorado ranked much lower than California, Alaska, and several other states.computer_4929105.jpg

According to data from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the most common complaints of Internet scams in the past year included romance-related pleas for money, work-at-home arrangements in which “workers” were convinced to pay for equipment or other start-up assets they never received, and cases in which someone on the Internet impersonated an FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) agent or other law enforcement officer.
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