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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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