Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

Colorado Police TechnologyIn Colorado and other states, police units have begun relying on laser technology to monitor the speed of drivers and to ticket those who are exceeding the speed limit. While many law enforcement agencies hail the developing technology as a benefit, many drivers aren’t so sure that the benefits outweigh the costs.

For many years, police have used “radar guns” to monitor and calculate the speeds of vehicles. Rather than shooting a projectile, these “guns” use radar signals to identify where a vehicle is and approximately how fast it is going. Radar guns have their limitations, however. One major limitation of radar technology is that radar signals form a cone shape as they travel away from the detector – meaning that the farther away a vehicle is, the less likely the radar gun’s measurement of its speed will be accurate.
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The University of Colorado Police Department has teamed up with the Boulder Police Department to create an online system for reporting certain suspected crimes, according to a recent article in the Colorado Daily.

The system allows people on the University of Colorado campus to report suspected crimes like theft, property damage, traffic offenses, or vandalism via an online system. The participating police departments hope that the system will free up police officers to patrol areas more frequently, instead of having to respond in person to many complaints. Increased patrols should in turn prevent crimes such as bike theft and vandalism, according to the department.
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In a Colorado criminal case, one or more possible defenses may come into play. One pair of defenses that are related is the defense of “mistake of fact” and “mistake of law.” Although these defenses often do not apply to a particular case, they may apply if the legal conditions for using either defense are met.

A “mistake of fact” occurs when the person charged with a crime only acted because he or she thought the conduct was legal – but turned out to be wrong about that. Usually, mistake of fact is not a defense to a criminal charge in Colorado, unless:

  • the mistake of fact negates the state of mind required to commit the crime,
  • the statute that prohibits the criminal behavior specifies that a mistake of fact is a defense to being charged under the statute, or
  • the mistake of fact supports a justification defense.

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The preliminary hearing in a Colorado criminal case occurs after arraignment, where the accused person learns what he or she has been charged with, and before the trial, where the prosecution must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to determine whether “probable cause” exists to send the case to the trial court.

Coloradoans who have been charged with certain types of crimes have a statutory right to a preliminary hearing. An experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney can help you understand which category you’re in and make sure you get a hearing if entitled to one.
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microscope-lab-16548241.jpgCrime lab expansions have been on the agenda in several Colorado counties recently, as law enforcement departments seek better access to the tools and expertise needed to analyze evidence from potential crime scenes. Now, Adams County is seeking to expand its crime lab.

According to an article at Our Colorado News, the sheriff of Adams County recently offered a proposal to the Adams County commissioners for four new lab spaces to handle specialized types of evidence. The spaces would be devoted to tool marks, ballistics, and DNA evidence. The cost of the project is estimated at $130,000 to $750,000, depending on the equipment the county purchases and how many new technicians are hired to analyze evidence.
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When a criminal record is “sealed” in Colorado, it doesn’t cease to exist, but it does stop being public record. Any party to a criminal conviction in Colorado, including the person who was convicted, may request that a court seal a criminal record. In some cases, like juvenile matters, records are sealed automatically in certain circumstances; for others, a person must request the record be sealed.

A petition to seal a criminal conviction record must be filed in the District Court in the same county where the records are filed. You may file a petition yourself, or you may have an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney file for you.

Not all criminal records can be sealed. Generally speaking, a criminal conviction record can be sealed if it is for:

  • a petty offense;
  • a misdemeanor;
  • a class 5 or 6 felony, except for some drug-related convictions; or
  • a conviction that would have been a class 5 or 6 felony if it had occurred on July 1, 2008.

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Criminal cases in Colorado involve one of two different standards, depending on which phase the case is in. They are known, respectively, as “probable cause” and “reasonable doubt.”

The probable cause standard applies to earlier phases in the criminal process, like search and arrest warrants and the preliminary hearing. In order to issue a warrant or “bind over” a defendant for a criminal trial, probable cause must exist. Probable cause consists of facts or circumstances that would make a reasonable person think a crime had probably been committed. Probable cause doesn’t require certainty, but it does require more than a mere suspicion or a hunch.

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