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Beyond A Reasonable Doubt: The Burden Of Proof In A Colorado Criminal Case
/ 17 April, 2021

As a Colorado resident, it’s important to understand the basic criminal laws, rules, and regulations that dictate what you can and can’t do within the state. As one of the most important concepts in Colorado criminal law, you should become familiar with the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This concept refers to a rule known as “burden of proof” in Colorado criminal cases.

If you’re charged with any type of crime, ranging from shoplifting to assault to drug trafficking, the prosecution must be able to fulfill the burden of proof – meaning prove that you are guilty of the crime – beyond a reasonable doubt. When you’re faced with criminal charges in Colorado, a skilled Denver criminal defense lawyer can help protect your legal rights by ensuring that the prosecution doesn’t cut corners when it comes to the burden of proof.

What is the burden of proof in a criminal case?

The Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute defines the burden of proof in a criminal case as follows:

“Generally, describes the standard that a party seeking to prove a fact in court must satisfy to have that fact legally established. There are different standards in different circumstances. For example, in criminal cases, the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt is on the prosecution, and they must establish that fact beyond a reasonable doubt.”

What exactly does “beyond a reasonable doubt” mean? “Burden of proof” and “beyond a reasonable doubt” go together hand in hand in a Colorado criminal case. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof required to result in a conviction in a criminal case. The prosecution must prove that you’re guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. They’ll attempt to do this by convincing the jury that there’s no other explanation for the crime.

Who has the burden of proof in a criminal case? The burden of proof is on the prosecution. The pressure is on them to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed a crime. With this in mind, your Denver criminal attorney will work to implement a strategy designed to poke holes in the prosecution’s approach, improving the likelihood of avoiding a conviction.

Other burdens of proof that could come into play in a criminal case

In criminal cases, there are times when other burdens of proof come into play. These include:

  • Reasonable suspicion: A police officer must have reasonable suspicion that you’ve violated the law in order to stop you. They can’t act on a simple gut feeling. The suspicion must be backed up by facts. 
  • Reasonable to believe: A police officer has the legal authority to search a vehicle again if they have reason to believe that there is evidence of a crime. This level of proof sits between that of reasonable suspicion and probable cause. 
  • Probable cause: In simple terms, this means there is a fair probability that a police officer will find evidence that a crime was committed. 
  • Clear and convincing evidence: Clear and convincing evidence means that the evidence is highly and substantially more likely to be true than untrue. 

As you can see, there’s a lot of gray area associated with these other types of burdens of proof. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney who can use those gray areas to your advantage in a Colorado criminal case.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the criminal burden of proof in Colorado

consultation with defense attorney discussing the criminal burden of proof
Your Denver criminal defense attorney can review the details of your criminal charges and explain how the burden of proof will apply to your case.


When it comes to the burden of proof in a Colorado criminal case, many questions are sure to come to mind. Here are some of the most common questions that your defense attorney can answer in detail:

  • What happens if the prosecution is unable to show beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed?
  • What’s the best defense strategy for your particular criminal charges?
  • Is it possible for law enforcement to fabricate a story to strengthen their case, such as stating that they had reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle?
  • Do you need to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you in court?
  • What is the presumption of innocence?

It’s these types of questions, among others, that you want to answer as you prepare for your criminal case. With the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, you’re never in the dark. They can answer your questions and devise a defense strategy that puts you in the best possible light.

Our Denver criminal attorney can enforce the burden of proof to help protect you against conviction

At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, our Denver criminal defense attorney has over a decade of experience helping good people through tough times, by enforcing the burden of proof in Colorado criminal cases. We’ll work to find the holes in the prosecution’s case and implement a strong legal strategy to help protect against a conviction. If you’ve been charged with any type of crime in Colorado, don’t hesitate to contact us online or give us a call to schedule a free consultation. 

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. 

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