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What You Need To Know About Plea Bargains In Colorado
/ 09 April, 2021

It goes without saying that you never want to find yourself in trouble with the law. However, should that happen, it’s critical that you have a clear understanding of the legal system and the options available to you. Early in the criminal court process, your attorney may discuss the option of a plea bargain with you. It’s not something you have to accept, but it may be in your best interest. Our Denver criminal defense lawyer explains how a plea bargain works, along with the pros and cons of accepting a plea bargain in Colorado.

What is a plea bargain in Colorado?

Here’s how a plea bargain is defined by the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute:

“Plea bargains are agreements between defendants and prosecutors in which defendants agree to plead guilty to some or all of the charges against them in exchange for concessions from the prosecutors.”

A plea bargain offers benefits to both the defendant and the prosecution.

From your perspective as a defendant, you plead guilty to some or all of the charges in exchange for lesser consequences. This is often better than the alternative of going to trial with hopes that you avoid punishment completely. 

Conversely, prosecutors are able to move on from your case, thus allowing them to focus resources on other cases, while also reducing the workload on trial judges.

As long as the plea bargain is fair, it’s a win-win for both parties. Your Denver criminal defense lawyer can help you determine if you have a fair plea bargain on the table or if you need to negotiate for a better deal.

How does a plea bargain work?

This varies from one case to the next, but here’s an example of how a plea bargain is made:

  1. The prosecuting attorney contacts your criminal defense attorney to discuss the details of the plea, such as pleading guilty to a less serious charge. 
  2. With the guidance of your criminal defense attorney, you agree to plead guilty to specified charges. 
  3. You receive less severe punishment, such as probation instead of jail time, based on the terms and conditions of the plea bargain. 

Your defense attorney can negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf with the idea of minimizing the impact that a serious criminal conviction can have on your life. You’re under no obligation to accept the first offer from the prosecution so if you’re unsure of the deal, speak with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney.

What are the different types of plea bargains in Colorado?

There are three distinct types of plea bargains that you may encounter in a Colorado criminal case:

  1. Charge bargaining: this is the most common form of plea bargain, with the defendant agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge under the understanding that the more severe charges will be dismissed. 
  2. Sentence bargaining: it’s not as common as charge bargaining, but still a possibility. This allows the defendant to plead guilty to the charges as-is in exchange for a less severe sentence.
  3. Fact bargaining: this is rare, but it can occur when a defendant agrees for certain facts to be presented to the court, while other facts are prevented from being presented as evidence. 

Can you negotiate a plea bargain?

The simple answer is yes, but there’s more to it than that. Negotiating a plea bargain is challenging on many fronts, especially if you attempt to do so on your own.

If you have plans to consider a plea bargain, here’s what you should do:

  • Consult with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney: not only do they know the ins and outs of Colorado criminal courts, but they may have an existing relationship with the prosecutor. This can work in your favor. 
  • Understand the current charges and potential consequences: until you understand these details, you won’t be able to determine if a plea bargain is something to consider or if you have a fair deal on the table. There are times when it makes more sense for a case to move to trial. Your defense attorney can help you determine which is the best strategy for your position.
  • Know your legal rights: again, you don’t have to accept a plea bargain. The prosecutor and/or court cannot force you to do so. But it’s an option to carefully consider, as it’ll impact your case and future.

The pros and cons of accepting a plea bargain in Colorado

arrested man considering a plea bargain in Colorado
There are pros and cons to consider when accepting a plea bargain but your Denver criminal defense attorney can help you make the best decision.

 

As you consider whether to accept a plea bargain, keep in mind that there are both pros and cons to accepting one. Let’s start with the benefits:

  • Reduced charge.
  • Lighter sentence.
  • The ability to bring an end to your case in a more timely manner.
  • Less stress, since you won’t spend any more time in court.

Now, here are some of the primary disadvantages:

  • You have to plead guilty. 
  • There’s no option for the result of “not guilty”.
  • You may feel pressure from the prosecution to accept a plea bargain that’s not in your best interest.
  • If you plead guilty, there’s a chance that it’ll remain on your criminal record indefinitely.

Before you plead guilty, discuss your options with a Denver criminal defense attorney

There’s much to consider before accepting or rejecting a plea bargain but don’t try to decide on your own. An experienced Denver criminal defense attorney can explain what option makes the most sense for your situation. At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC we have the experience and knowledge you need to help you decide if a plea bargain is in your best interest. Contact us online or give us a call today to schedule a consultation and discuss your options.

Reckless Driving In Colorado: What Is It & How To Fight A Ticket
/ 03 April, 2021

Reckless driving—also known as reckless endangerment— is every bit as dangerous as it sounds. Add in the fact that it can result in serious trouble with the law in Colorado, and it’s something you want to avoid at all costs.

While reckless driving takes on many forms, the definition remains the same. It’s defined as any activity, while operating a motor vehicle, that puts people and/or property in danger. 

Some of the most common forms of reckless endangerment include:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Illegal passing
  • Tailgating 
  • Failure to adhere to traffic lights and stop signs
  • Driving the wrong way on a one-way street
  • Driving in areas, such as sidewalks and bicycle lanes, that are not intended for motor vehicles

Reckless driving is generally considered a misdemeanor in Colorado, however, there are times when it’s charged as a felony, such as if it results in personal injury or death.

Colorado reckless driving FAQs

Even if you think you’re doing everything you can to avoid reckless driving, there may be times when you violate Colorado traffic laws. And should that happen, there’s a chance you could soon find yourself on the receiving end of a hefty traffic ticket, after which you may have questions about your next steps. Here is a list of frequently asked questions regarding reckless endangerment in Colorado:

1. How many points is reckless driving in Denver, Colorado?

This is one of your primary concerns, especially if you already have points on your driving record. Too many of these can result in consequences such as a license suspension and/or the cancellation of your car insurance policy. 

In Colorado, the points associated with a reckless driving traffic ticket depend on the details of the charges:

  • Careless driving: four points
  • Reckless driving: eight points
  • Failure to provide proof of insurance: four points
  • Speeding: from 1 to 12 points, based on your speed 

In Colorado, if you are age 21 or older, your license will be suspended if you:

  • Receive 12 points or more within a 12-month period
  • Receive 18 points or more within a 24-month period

2. How much is a reckless driving ticket in Denver, Colorado?

Once again, this varies based on the type and severity of your actions. For example, if you’re a first-time offender and you didn’t cause harm to another individual, expect a fine between $150 and $300. Conversely, if you’re a repeat offender, your fine can increase to as high as $1,000. Note: in addition to a fine, you could also receive a sentence of up to 90 days in jail. 

officer issuing ticket for reckless driving in Colorado
Consequences for reckless driving in Colorado include points on your license, hefty fines, and jail time.

3. How long does reckless driving stay on your record in Colorado?

If you’re convicted of reckless driving in Colorado, it’ll remain on your motor vehicle record forever. 

However, there are a few things to remember:

  • The Department of Motor Vehicles uses 12 and 24 month period for its points system 
  • You cannot remove or seal a reckless driving conviction
  • Insurance companies don’t generally go back more than seven years when reviewing your driving record. 

These details show why it’s important to take steps to have your reckless driving charge reduced or dismissed with the help of an experienced Denver traffic attorney. 

4. How do you get a reckless driving ticket reduced or dismissed?

There’s no shortage of reckless driving defense strategies. Your traffic attorney’s goal is to settle on the one that gives you the best chance of reducing or dismissing your ticket.

Some of the most common legal defense strategies include:

  • Questioning the officer’s opinion
  • Questioning witness testimony
  • Arguing that an emergency resulted in your reckless behavior
  • Presenting evidence to show that you were not intentionally driving recklessly

With so many defense strategies to consider, it’s important to know how each one could affect your case. Even if you’re unsuccessful in having your ticket dismissed, reduced charges can lessen the impact on your life. 

Do you need the help of a skilled Denver traffic attorney?

You’re not required by law to hire a traffic attorney to fight a reckless driving charge, but there are many reasons to do so:

  • Your Denver traffic attorney knows the ins and outs of Colorado’s traffic laws.
  • Your attorney knows which defense strategy has the best chance of yielding positive results.
  • Your attorney can gather all the necessary evidence and documentation on your behalf.

Don’t panic if you find yourself holding a reckless driving ticket. Also, don’t jump the gun and pay it immediately. Consult with a Denver traffic lawyer to learn more about your legal rights, as well as defense strategies you can use to reduce the ticket’s impact on your life. 

At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, we have 10+ years of experience handling reckless driving charges for clients across Colorado. Contact us online or give us a call today to discuss your case, including the next steps, potential outcomes, and more. 

How To Beat A Drug Trafficking Charge In Colorado
/ 11 March, 2021

Any type of drug charge has the potential to change your life forever, and that’s definitely the case with drug trafficking. In Colorado, authorities are on the lookout for drug trafficking throughout the state.

For example, the Colorado Attorney General and DEA Task Force recently wrapped up a nearly two-year-long investigation that involved 77, 000 counterfeit oxycodone pills, 60 pounds of heroin, and $931,000 in U.S. currency.

Keep in mind, even though drug trafficking is a serious criminal charge, your charges don’t necessarily have to result in a conviction. Our Denver drug charges lawyer explains possible legal defenses to help dismiss or reduce the charges against you.

How to get a drug trafficking charge dismissed or reduced?

There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to defending against drug trafficking charges in Colorado. Instead, you must consider all of the possible defense strategies available to you, including:

  • “Insufficient evidence”: If the state doesn’t have the evidence to back up its claims against you of drug trafficking, your attorney can use it to your advantage in court. The burden of proof is on your accusers. 
  • Challenging how the state procured its evidence: It’s one thing for the state to have evidence against you. It’s another thing entirely for the state to procure its evidence through legal and acceptable means. Your attorney will no doubt scrutinize the evidence presented to make sure it’s admissible in court.
  • Challenging “confidential informants” using the 6th Amendment: The Sixth Amendment grants you the right to confront your accusers, including any “anonymous” informants whose testimony the police may be using as evidence against you. Your attorney may request that these informants be revealed in order to evaluate their credibility.
  • “Entrapment”: This comes into play if law enforcement induced you to commit a crime you wouldn’t otherwise have committed on your own. Your drug attorney will defend you against this type of foul play.
  • Requesting an amendment of the charge: If a conviction must be given, your drug charges lawyer may try to request an amendment of the charge to lessen the likelihood of a serious penalty, such as prison time. 
  • Offer “substantial assistance” to law enforcement: You may not want to cooperate with law enforcement, but it can go a long way in lessening the punishment you receive. By offering assistance in exchange for a reduced drug charge, you’ll help the authorities uncover other more serious drug-related crimes. 

Your drug attorney may choose one or a combination of the above legal strategies to help you avoid a conviction in relation to your drug trafficking charges. Even if you can’t avoid a sentence, your attorney may be able to secure you a lesser penalty, such as probation instead of a prison sentence. 

When combined with other approaches, such as submitting character letters, you position yourself to avoid a conviction or at the very least reduce your punishment. 

Either way, make sure to consult with a skilled Denver drug defense lawyer who can determine the best route to take in your Colorado drug crime case.

How much jail time will you get for a felony drug conviction?

man in jail for a drug charge in Colorado
How much jail time you serve for a drug conviction in Colorado depends on the type of drug and your criminal record.

 

Penalties associated with felony drug convictions are among the most serious. However, they vary based on many factors, including the type of crime, your criminal record, and the type(s) or drugs that were involved.

Let’s start with outlining the five schedules that define the different drug types:

  • Schedule I: a highly addictive substance with no medical use.
  • Schedule II: a highly addictive substance with medical uses and has the potential to result in dependence. 
  • Schedule III: low risk for abuse with medical uses and only a moderate risk of dependence. 
  • Schedule IV and V: low potential for abuse and dependence, with accepted medical uses.

Now, here are some examples of the types of drugs that fit into each schedule:

  • Schedule I: LSD, heroin, PCP
  • Schedule II: cocaine, methadone, Vicodin, Oxycodone
  • Schedule III: ketamine, testosterone, and anabolic steroids
  • Schedule IV and V: Darvocet, Xanax, Talwin, and Ambien

When the case involves higher level drugs such as Schedule I or II, or the offense involves manufacturing or sales, you may face felony charges. Penalties for drug trafficking can range from a fine of $1,000 and/or a six-month jail term to 32 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine. Repeat offenders are more likely to receive the harshest penalties allowed by Colorado law. 

Give yourself the best odds with a Denver drug charges lawyer

Yes, a drug trafficking charge in Colorado is a serious crime, but there are ways to beat a conviction. At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC we have the experience and knowledge you’re looking for in a skilled drug defense lawyer. 

Over a decade, we’ve successfully helped good people get through tough times involving serious drug charges including drug trafficking. Give us a call or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. We’ll discuss your drug charges and explain the best options for moving forward. 

Arrest Warrant vs. Bench Warrant vs. Search Warrant: What They Mean For Your Colorado Criminal Case
/ 17 February, 2021

If a Colorado judge has issued an official document called a warrant, it means a law enforcement officer is getting ready to perform some type of activity related to a criminal case. Since there are different kinds of warrants, how are you supposed to know what each one means? 

Today, we’ll discuss several types of warrants including:

  • Arrest warrants;
  • Bench warrants;
  • Search warrants;
  • No-knock warrants; and
  • Blue warrants.

Remember, even though you may be accused of a crime, and a warrant has your name on it, you have rights. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani LLC has been defending the rights of Colorado residents for over a decade. We’ll clear up any confusion about warrants and work hard to protect your rights against them. 

What is an arrest warrant in Colorado?

An arrest warrant is the most common warrant. It authorizes police to arrest or detain a person, limiting the person’s freedom. Arrest records are considered public records and can be viewed by members of the general public at any time. 

For police to get an arrest warrant, they must show a judge that a crime was committed and they have probable cause for taking the person into custody. They will write a sworn statement of facts called an affidavit.  If the judge is convinced, he/she will issue an arrest warrant with the following details and terms:

  • Name of the person being arrested.
  • The crime that the person is accused of.
  • Where and when the warrant was issued.
  • The judge’s name and signature.
  • Bail amount that can be posted.
  • Where and when the warrant can be executed.

If the name of the accused person is unknown, the warrant must include a clear description of the suspected criminal. This helps to make certain that the police are arresting the correct person. 

Because it can take weeks, months, and even years for a suspect to be caught, arrest warrants do not expire and will go on the person’s criminal records. In the event you are arrested, remain silent until you’ve had a chance to talk to a skilled Denver criminal defense lawyer.

It’s important to note that there are times when Colorado law allows the police to make a warrantless arrest, such as when the officer witnesses a crime or officers have probable cause that a felony was committed. 

If you’re interested in searching to see if you have an arrest warrant in Denver, visit the Denver County Court Warrant Search website. Just enter your name and date of birth to see if you have any active warrants. 

Beyond arrest warrants: Other types of warrants in Colorado

search warrant
Search warrants give police the authority to search for specific items at a certain location such as your home.

 

Arrest warrants are often confused with other warrants in criminal cases such as bench warrants, search warrants, no-knock warrants, and blue warrants. The differences between each one is explained below:

 

  • Search warrant: Search warrants authorize the police to search or look for specific items or materials at a certain location, but not to arrest or pick up people.

 

 

  • Blue warrant: A blue warrant is issued for parole violations. Once this warrant is issued, the person can be arrested at any time and their parole privileges are taken away. Colorado Statute 17-2-103 determines when a parolee can be arrested. 

Preserve your freedom against all types of warrants with a Denver criminal defense attorney

Whether it’s an arrest warrant or bench warrant, having a warrant issued in your name can prevent you from moving forward in your life. Don’t live in fear. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC are passionate about helping good people through tough times. Give our experienced Denver criminal attorney a call at 303-635-6768 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We’ll work to recall the warrant or help you pay bail so you can get back to the life and family you love.

Traffic Ticket Laws: How They Work Differently In Colorado
/ 12 February, 2021

No one likes being pulled over by the cops. What’s worse than that? Receiving a ticket for speeding. Traffic violations like this require you to either pay or fight the traffic ticket. Maybe ignoring the ticket will make it go away, right? Wrong. Colorado traffic ticket laws are put in place to protect citizens and keep streets safe. 

Being handed a ticket can cast a dark cloud over your life and your wallet. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC have over a decade of serving the people of Colorado in traffic ticket defense. We know that mistakes are made. Not every traffic ticket is legit. And not every police officer follows the rules when issuing tickets. 

Because we care about preserving your rights as a driver, today we’ll discuss:

  1. The role of state and municipal traffic laws
  2. How Colorado traffic laws differ from other states 
  3. Colorado cities with the worst traffic fines, and 
  4. U.S. states with the harshest fines for traffic violations.

Colorado traffic ticket laws under the state vs. city government

You may think traffic laws only apply to the state or federal government. But every city and local government has its place in managing traffic.

Interstate and highways, like I-70, are controlled by the Interstate Highway System, which falls under the federal or state government.  

City and county laws address day-to-day life on roads and streets and are usually regulated under a municipal code. The City of Denver’s rules are known as the Municipal Code of the City of Denver

The city controls traffic situations like speed limits, skateboarding or electric scooters being left on sidewalks, parking in tow-away zones, and railroad crossings. When you’re faced with traffic violations, you’ll typically go to a city traffic court in Colorado. 

Sometimes state and local traffic laws overlap. But whenever there is a conflict or clash between the two, state laws usually always override city traffic ticket laws.

How Colorado traffic ticket laws differ from other states

man wearing headphones while driving
Colorado traffic ticket laws do not allow drivers to wear headphones while operating a vehicle.

 

If you live here, you know the Centennial State carries some of the most strict traffic ticket laws in the nation. Tourists, however, who are unfamiliar with the rules of the road like the left-lane law, may end up with an unwanted souvenir. 

Colorado’s left-lane law says that you should not drive in the passing lane (the left lane) of the highway when the speed limit is 65 miles per hour or more. The left lane is for passing; the right lanes are for normal driving.

You can only drive in the left lane when passing cars in the non-passing lane (the right lane), turning left, or when traffic allows you to safely merge into the right lane.

While traveling out of town and you receive a speeding ticket, the ticket will follow you back to your home state. This is possible because of the Driver’s License Compact, that allows states to talk to each other. 

But if you get a traffic ticket while traveling in Colorado, the ticket will not go on your driving record. 

This goes to show you that every state is unique. What is accepted in other states may be considered breaking the rules in Colorado. Denver News 7 shared some little-known rules of the road that can result in Colorado traffic tickets if you don’t follow them:

  • No cell phone for young drivers: If you’re under 18, you cannot make calls while driving.
  • No headphones: Wearing headphones while driving is illegal.
  • If you hit a parked car: You must do both: call the police and leave a note if you cannot find the vehicle owner.
  • Don’t slow traffic: Don’t merge if the flow of traffic has to slow down for you.
  • Driving on narrow mountain roads: Give right-of-way to vehicles going uphill on mountain roads.
  • Left turn on red: One-way left turn on red is allowed (unless otherwise posted).

 

man putting chains on his tires in the snow
Colorado’s Code15/Passenger Traction law requires mile high drivers to prepare their tires for bad weather conditions.

 

The most important and unique law of all is Colorado’s traction law. Code15/Passenger Traction law requires drivers to have one of the following: all-wheel or four wheel drive vehicles, snow tires, or all-weather tires with mud/snow designation. 

This law is key during the winter months and even when the winter season passes. The need for proper traction in the snow is important. 

Your tires need to be able to grip the road and handle the snow and ice. The last thing you want is to slip, slide, and lose control of your car. 

By following the rules, you can avoid hefty out of pocket costs. Failure to follow the Code 15 traction law could cost you more than $130. And if your car blocks the road because you don’t have the right equipment, you can expect a fine of more than $650.

How much will a speeding ticket actually cost you in Colorado?

speeding ticket
Depending on where you live in Colorado, a speeding ticket can cost you more in the long run than just the fine itself.

 

Speeding is a common traffic violation in Colorado and throughout the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that traffic congestion is one of the most contributing factors to aggressive driving habits like speeding

In 2018, Denver’s traffic congestion ranked 21 in the nation. By 2040, Denver’s traffic is predicted to grow by more than 40%, according to CPR News. 

Because of bumper-to-bumper traffic, drivers get frustrated. They attempt to make up lost time on the road by speeding to their next destination. 

The outcome? Sometimes speeding ends in a speeding ticket. Drivers are then left to wonder, “What should I do after getting a traffic ticket in Colorado?

Getting a speeding ticket in Denver or anywhere in the state of Colorado is expensive when you consider the whole package. The ticket itself is not the only cost that comes with breaking speeding laws. On average, Colorado drivers pay $135.61 more per year for insurance after getting a speeding ticket. Insurance rate increases can last for about three years, so Colorado drivers can end up paying an extra $406.83 for their insurance after just one ticket.

To make things worse, drivers in certain Colorado cities pay more than drivers in others. For example, a driver in Montrose will only pay $101.58 more in car insurance premiums after a ticket, while a driver in Fort Morgan with the same speeding ticket will pay $178.57 more per year! All the more reason to find out what are your legal options when it comes to traffic ticket defense in Colorado.

Colorado cities with worst traffic ticket fines

Denver’s Mile High Magazine unpacks Colorado cities with the worst and most expensive traffic tickets:

  • A speeding ticket in Colorado Springs runs up to $190
  • Running a red light in Denver will cost you $135
  • Following too closely in Denver is $165
  • Driving without a seat belt in Denver is $95
  • Riding a bike on a sidewalk in Colorado Springs is $50
  • Living in a vehicle in Boulder is $100

In addition to fines, it’s possible to have your license suspended or taken away, spend time in jail and more. For example, penalties for a Colorado DUI include alcohol education classes and community service. 

As you can see, there are levels to traffic penalties. Heavier violations require drivers to pay more amounts of money. But with an experienced Denver traffic ticket defense lawyer, you may be able to save yourself the trouble of dealing with any of the above.

U.S. states with harshest traffic ticket laws & fines

The financial consequences of receiving a traffic ticket is on the minds of drivers everywhere. 

We’ll show you the U.S. states that have the harshest fines. 

For example, California has some of the highest traffic fines in the nation. Here’s how other states stack up in traffic violations:

  • Distracted driving in Oregon is an epic $1000 with Utah at $750
  • Texting and driving in Colorado is $300
  • Speeding in California is over $237
  • Riding in the HOV lane in Arizona is over $400
  • Cell phone use in California is over $162.

It’s been reported that some California drivers can’t afford the growing costs of traffic tickets. In response, California is creating a statewide program to cut traffic fines by 50% or more. 

The Post-Journal indicates that New York is also assisting citizens. New York State is allowing drivers to make payment plans if they cannot afford to pay an entire ticket. 

Can you handle the financial burden of a Colorado traffic ticket?

You need a Denver traffic defense lawyer by your side

Much like anywhere else in the United States, traffic tickets in Colorado are expensive. Without a strategy, you may lose your license and have to pay higher insurance payments. Don’t be afraid to fight your traffic ticket with the help of a knowledgeable Denver traffic defense attorney. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC are here for you. We can help you build a strong defense and possibly get your charges reduced or dropped. Contact us today or give us a call to request a free case review.

Tips For How To Deal With Police Officers
/ 03 February, 2021

The thought alone of interacting with a police officer is enough to make you sweat. And that’s especially true if you’re being accused of a crime. You want to protect your rights but don’t want to cause conflict, so you might be wondering how to deal with police officers the right way?

Our experienced Denver criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC has been enforcing the rights of Colorado residents for over a decade. He offers five tips you can follow when dealing with police.

Tip 1. Know your legal rights

When you know your legal rights (also known as your constitutional rights), it’s easier to protect yourself during any type of interaction with a police officer.

For example, the Fifth Amendment provides you the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. In other words, you’re under no obligation to speak to the officer and you have the right to consult with a legal professional. 

If you’re put under arrest, the officer is required to read you your Miranda rights as follows:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering at any time.

Tip 2. Don’t answer questions you don’t understand

This goes along with the tip directly above. An officer may ask you a variety of questions, all with the idea of confusing you so you say something they can use to put you under arrest.

If there’s a question you don’t understand or a question you’re not comfortable answering, politely decline. You don’t have to give an exact reason for declining. Simply let the officer know that you’re not comfortable providing an answer.

The only questions you are obligated to answer are:

  1. What is your name?
  2. What is your address? 

Just make sure the officer doesn’t trick you into saying something that incriminates you.

Tip 3. Don’t attempt to flee the scene

This is where many people make a big mistake. In Colorado, eluding the police can result in felony criminal charges. The penalties vary depending on if anyone was hurt during your attempt to flee:

  • Incident caused no bodily injury – Class 5 felony: 1 to 3 years in Colorado State Prison, and/or a fine of $2,000 to $100,000
  • Incident caused bodily injury – Class 4 felony: 2 to 6 years prison, and/or a fine of $4,000 to $500,000
  • Incident caused death – Class 3 felony: 4 to 12 years in prison, and/or a fine of $6,000 to $750,0005

For non-citizens, keep in mind that eluding police is a deportable offense. Rather than flee the scene, communicate with the officer while respectfully protecting your legal rights. Even if you’re able to run away for the time being, the law will eventually catch up to you. And that’s not something that you want hanging over your head.

Tip 4. Don’t be rude

This is easier said than done, especially if the officer is being rude. However, when you’re disrespectful in any manner—such as talking back or using obscene language—there’s a greater likelihood that the officer will put you under arrest.

While it’s not common, an officer can arrest you for using “fighting words” on the grounds of breach of peace or disorderly conduct

If you want to know how to deal with police officers without causing further conflict, stay away from using aggressive language that can be interpreted as provoking violence or being threatening to the officer.

Tip 5. Don’t resist arrest

person resisting arrest who doesn't know how to deal with police officers
Resisting arrest in Colorado is a class 2 misdemeanor with jail time and heavy fines.

 

Imagine a situation in which you’re pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol

While the officer believes that you’re under the influence, you disagree. And for that reason, when they attempt to put you under arrest, you get the urge to fight back.

You should know that resisting arrest in Colorado is a class 2 misdemeanor, resulting in 3 to 12 months in jail and/or fines of $250 to $1,000.

Rather than resist arrest, follow the officer’s instructions while remaining quiet. You don’t want the possibility of additional criminal charges added to an already stressful situation.

Tips for non-citizens on how to deal with police officers

Immigration status adds another layer of challenges when dealing with police officers. Not only are you concerned about the crime you may have committed, but you’re terrified that your immigration or citizenship status could affect what happens next.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You have the same constitutional rights as a United States citizen.
  • You do not have to share your immigration status or related information with the officer.
  • Never provide fake documentation.
  • Your citizenship status, place of birth, or country of origin should not impact your legal rights.

An experienced Denver criminal attorney will deal with the police for you

When interacting with a police officer, there are steps you can take to protect your legal rights and hopefully defuse the situation.

However, if you’re put under arrest and find yourself moving through the legal system, you must consult with a knowledgeable Denver criminal defense attorney

Your legal team at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC will review your criminal case and provide you with expert guidance. We’re passionate about helping good people through tough times and we’ll do whatever it takes to help prevent a conviction and the punishments associated with it.

As a bonus tip, remember to ask these questions during your first consultation with your criminal attorney:

  • What are my options in regards to a defense strategy, such as if arrested for DUI?
  • What is your opinion on my case?
  • What are the penalties associated with a conviction?
  • Is jail time possible?
  • What do you need from me?

These basic questions will help you better understand your legal rights, how your attorney can help, and what you can do to assist them.

Even though there’s no guarantee of success in the courtroom, you’re in a much better position when you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact us online or give us a call today to schedule your free consultation. 

Police Body Cameras In Colorado: The Impact On Criminal Cases
/ 19 January, 2021

In today’s day and age, the use of police body cameras is constantly under scrutiny. 

In the state of Colorado (and in every other U.S. state), police body camera footage is used in many criminal cases. However, that doesn’t mean that things always work out as planned. 

For example, body camera footage may show that you were acting in self-defense or that a police officer attacked you for no reason.

On the other hand, body camera footage may clearly show that you violated the law, such as if you failed a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test. 

In Colorado, as well as almost every other part of the country, police body cameras have become a standard piece of equipment along with items such as a revolver and bullet proof vest. What role does this common piece of technology play in Colorado criminal courts and how can it affect your case?

How are body cameras used by police in Colorado?

There’s a right and a wrong way to use a body camera, and every police officer is trained accordingly. But of course, that doesn’t mean they always do the right thing.

Officers in the Denver Police Department, for example, should begin to record as they head towards an in-progress crime. 

Here are some (but not all) of the times when the Denver Police Department requires the activation of a body camera:

  • While traveling to in-progress calls
  • During traffic stops
  • During foot chases 
  • When pursuing another vehicle 
  • When giving Miranda Rights 
  • When searching property without a warrant
  • During crisis intervention team calls
  • While taking statements, such as from suspects, victims, or witnesses

In addition to the above requirements, every police officer has the discretion to turn their body camera on when they best see fit.

What is the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) and how does it apply to police body cameras?

Arrest being captured by police body camera.
Arrest footage captured by a police body camera is legally required to be available to the public under the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (CCJRA).

 

The Colorado Secretary of State website defines the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) as follows:

The Colorado Open Records Act “CORA” requires that most public records be available to the public. A “public record” includes most writings made, maintained, or kept by our office. However, there are some exceptions concerning records made available under CORA.

CORA is in place to govern when the public has access to police body camera footage. 

In Colorado, body camera recordings fall under the umbrella of “criminal justice records.” This means that evidence from body cameras is placed under the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (CCJRA).

Due to the fact that body cameras collect official police actions, such as arrests, the footage is required by law to be made available to the public as outlined by the CCJRA. However, in the event that the footage is considered “unofficial actions,” this requirement may not apply.

Using police body camera footage as evidence in Colorado criminal cases

If you’re charged with a crime in Colorado, your experienced Denver criminal attorney will do whatever it takes to dig up evidence to prevent a conviction or reduce the penalties against you. This includes using police body camera footage as evidence in your favor.

With each passing year, police body camera video evidence is becoming more common in Colorado’s court system. It’s considered in the same light as all other types of evidence, such as photographs. 

In order for body camera footage to be submitted for evidence during a trial in Colorado, it must be relevant to the issues before the court. Also, the footage requires authentication before making its way to the jury.

Make sure you hire a Denver criminal defense attorney who is experienced in handling this type of evidence to give you the best odds of success in court.

Should police body camera footage be part of your criminal defense strategy?

While this is ultimately a question for your Denver criminal defense attorney, police body camera footage that works in your favor should always be considered as part of your legal strategy. 

After all, it could be the difference between avoiding a conviction and finding yourself in prison and/or facing other serious consequences.

But remember, there’s more to body camera footage than meets the eye. There’s a lot to take into consideration, such as:

  • The quality of the footage
  • The angles at which the video was shot
  • How the jury might interpret what they see (they may not see the video in the same way as you)

Your Denver criminal attorney should be skilled at explaining things such as camera perspective bias to the jury in order to sway their decision in your favor.

Protect your rights with a Denver criminal attorney

Just because you’re charged with a crime doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted. And that’s why it’s so important to understand the types of evidence that can work in your favor, such as police body camera footage. It’s also important to understand the impact on your criminal case whenever body camera evidence is compromised. For example:

  • Body camera footage that disappears
  • Body camera footage that is destroyed before it’s entered as evidence
  • A police officer who didn’t turn on their camera or turned it off during an arrest or investigation

In any of these examples, your Denver criminal defense attorney will know how to adjust the legal strategy to maintain a strong criminal case. If you’re facing criminal charges in Colorado and would like to know more about using police body camera footage in your case, contact the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC online or give us a call today to schedule your free consultation.

How Character Letters Can Help In Colorado Criminal Cases
/ 12 January, 2021

Here’s the easiest way to put it: Character letters in a Colorado criminal case can have a positive impact on the legal outcome of your case. 

The goal of a character letter is to show support for a defendant in a criminal case, with the hopes of swaying the opinion of the judge and/or jury.

Who will write a character letter for your Colorado criminal case?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, as character letters can come from a variety of people in your life. Most commonly, this includes:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Co-workers
  • People from your community

Note: During the sentencing phase of a Colorado criminal defense case, a judge will only allow so many people to testify to a defendant’s character. However, they don’t typically place a limit on the number of character letters you can submit. So take advantage of working with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney who can help you collect character letters that will work in your favor.

Do character letters always work in a Colorado criminal case?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. This depends on many factors, such as who writes the letters, what they say, and of course, the severity of your crime. 

For example, if a case is in negotiations, a solid group of character letters can help obtain the best possible plea offer. 

Or when a judge has to make a sentencing decision, they’ll definitely review character letters to better understand your background. This has the potential to impact the Colorado judge’s final decision. 

Tip: It’s good practice to begin collecting character letters as soon as possible. Your Denver criminal attorney can provide you with guidance on when to collect letters and who you should ask first. Generally, it’s best to ask for character letters from people who aren’t in your family, such as a supervisor at work or a charity where you volunteered your time.

What an effective character letter includes

Person giving a character letter to someone for their Colorado criminal case.
It’s better to ask for character letters from people who are in close contact with you such as a current co-worker or boss.

 

There’s no right or wrong way for a person to write a character letter, but some approaches are definitely better than others.

There are four general details that an effective character letter includes:

  1. A clear relationship: Character letters should only be written by people who actually know you. Try to get letters from people with whom you currently have a relationship. For example, a character letter from your current boss or a co-worker is better than a character letter from an old high school or grade school teacher.
  2. A story: It doesn’t have to be a long story, just long enough to show the court that you’re a good person. This can be as simple as a letter that outlines your dedication to community service. 
  3. Stick to the personal relationship: You don’t have control over what a person says in a character letter, but it’s best that they stick to sharing details of your relationship, with a focus on your personal character. This is in contrast to saying things such as “he would never commit that type of crime” or “she really deserves a second chance.”
  4. Check with your lawyer: Before a character letter is submitted to the Colorado court, it’s best for your Denver criminal defense attorney to review it in great detail. All letters should pass through your attorney on the way to the court. 

Along with the above, there’s one last thing to remember: While character letters are helpful, they’re not a guarantee of the outcome of your criminal case. Just because you have a large number of these doesn’t mean the judge and/or jury will take it easy on you. 

Don’t expect your character letters to immediately result in your Colorado criminal case being dismissed. Instead, you should simply hope that these letters effectively show that you have a good character. This can often lead to less serious penalties, such as a shorter time in prison or the opportunity to serve out your sentence at home.

Are you confused by character letters? Let our Denver criminal attorney help

Depending on the severity of your crime, it may be hard to wrap your head around the idea that character letters can have a positive impact on your case. However, these letters can be powerful, so you don’t want to pass them over and simply hope for the best. 

Even if you don’t think anyone will provide you with a character letter, sit down and really think about who in your life would be willing to do this. You may be surprised as your list begins to grow.

With the right Denver criminal defense attorney on your side, along with character letters to back you up, you’re in a better position to avoid the most serious punishment for your crime. Contact the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC online today or give us a call to schedule your free consultation.

Facing the Failure To Appear In Colorado Criminal Courts
/ 05 January, 2021

Being charged with a crime or receiving a traffic ticket is no fun. And what’s worse? Having the court schedule your hearing, arraignment, conference, sentencing, or other proceeding on its calendar and you forget, or fail, to appear. 

If juggling your personal life mistakenly placed the court date in the back of your mind, the court will not view your non-appearance as a mistake. 

When the judge signs a summons and you violate that order, the court issues a failure to appear (FTA) which comes with steep consequences. At this point, you can try to face the court alone, or you can seek the assistance of a Denver criminal defense lawyer to help you sort through your legal options.

What is a failure to appear (FTA) in Colorado courts?

A failure to appear is a punishment given when a person refuses to show up in court for a legal proceeding.   

The Colorado Revised Statutes is the governing law for failure to appear. 

C.R.S. 16-2-110 basically says anyone that has been served with a summons and fails to appear in court, at the scheduled place and time, may be issued a bench warrant. 

If you’re wondering if there’s any circumstance where this rule does not apply, you’re in luck. 

The rule does not apply when you hire a Denver criminal defense attorney to appear on your behalf.

Do I always have to appear in court in Colorado?

In certain situations, you may be given the option to pay the fine before the required court date. If so, you may not have to appear in court.  

For example, if you receive a traffic ticket, you may be able to pay the fee instead of going to court. Just remember, paying the traffic ticket means you are pleading guilty to the charge in question. During this time, you may ask yourself, “Should I pay or fight my Colorado traffic ticket?

But if you want to fight the traffic ticket and possibly get the case dismissed or thrown out, you must be present before the judge on the date and time listed on the ticket.

Consequences of failing to appear in Colorado court

Colorado man arrested for failure to appear in Colorado court.
Failure to appear in Colorado court can get you served with an arrest warrant but an experienced Denver criminal attorney can appear in court for you.

 

Your signature on a traffic ticket means you agree to the terms of the court, including appearing for all scheduled court dates.

The act of signing is a promise to go to court. In fact, the city of Colorado Springs traffic court says states:

“When you sign a traffic summons in front of the police officer, you have made a promise to appear in court. 

By law, any change must also be in writing. 

Failure to pay a traffic summons in full by the required date, or failure to appear in Colorado court when scheduled will result in the issuance of an arrest warrant.”

A failure to appear in Colorado comes with the following consequences:

Warrants are issued on a daily basis for failure to appear. In one recent example, the former IT director for the town of Vail was a no-show in Colorado criminal court in November. 

His failure to appear caused the judge to immediately issue bench warrants for him.

The consequences of Colorado FTAs do not go away

No matter how much you try to ignore the FTA warrant, it will not go away. 

There is no statute of limitations on the outcomes of failures to appear in Colorado. Ten years can pass by and the FTA warrant would still be in effect. 

The best method for handling what comes next after a failure to appear is to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Colorado who can keep you out of hot water with the court.

Colorado’s attempt to reduce arrest warrants

Early in 2020, the Colorado legislature introduced a bill that would eliminate arrest warrants for failures to appear. 

The Grace Period Bill would extend a 72 hour window for defendants to appear in court after missing the initial scheduled date. 

Unfortunately, there has been no official movement on the bill, and since February 27, 2020, it is postponed indefinitely.

How to handle a failure to appear warrant in Colorado

So, what can you do about this pesky failure to appear you just received? You can handle a failure to appear by taking one step: providing the judge with a good reason why you missed court.

Judges are human beings who may understand a valid reason for missing court, such as:

  • Couldn’t take time off work
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Miscommunication with the court
  • Death in the family
  • Inclement weather

Get help with your Colorado failure to appear warrants

When you retain the services of a knowledgeable Denver criminal defense attorney, your warrant may be recalled. 

If you act swiftly and take advantage of our free consultation, the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC may be able to get a new court date so you can get a fresh start in defending yourself during this trying time. Give us a call today to discuss next steps.

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