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How A Criminal Background Check Affects You In Colorado
/ 27 May, 2021

It is estimated that approximately one in every three Americans has a criminal record. If you fall into this group, you may find it hard to get a job or a place to stay. The sad part is that even convictions for minor offenses may reflect on your criminal record. If you are facing criminal charges in Colorado, it would be best to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Denver working on your case to help you protect your future.

What is a criminal background check?

A background check can be defined as the process of verifying that a person is who they claim to be. A criminal background check usually goes beyond ascertaining a person’s identity to check their suitability for employment based on their criminal record.

Employers and volunteer organizations usually conduct criminal background checks on candidates to verify their criminal records and establish their suitability for employment. When performing background checks, employers or organizations can enlist third-party screening services or invest in software designed to conduct background checks. In most cases, employers and organizations opt for using background check companies to carry out background checks on potential candidates.

How long does a criminal background check take?

The amount of time required to complete a background check depends on several factors that include:

  • The level of criminal background check, 
  • The number of states the individual in question has lived or worked in, and 
  • The number of requests made within an individual background check.

While some criminal background check results may be available in a few hours, for example, the national database search, it may take some days or longer to get results for other types of screenings.

Different types of criminal record checks

In Colorado, there are five primary levels of background checks that employers could be interested in when doing a background check.

1. National criminal background check

This type of check involves searching the digitized criminal records across all states. It reports infractions, pending criminal cases, misdemeanors, felonies, active warrants, and history of incarcerations across the U.S. It searches the digitized records only, thus faster but less comprehensive.

2. Federal criminal court check

This type of criminal background check searches across all the federal and appellate court databases for convictions and pending federal crimes charges. Employers usually use this type of check to uncover incidents of fraud, identity theft, or embezzlement in potential hires.

3. State court checks

This check reveals criminal charges and convictions on a state level, including law enforcement reports. It reports on felony, misdemeanor, and pending cases of an individual.

4. County court checks

This combs the county courts for pending cases and prior convictions. It provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive information about an individual’s criminal record in their current county of residence. 

5. Sex offender registry check

Upon a conviction with a sex crime, offenders are required by law to register with the sex offender’s registry on a national and state level. The sex offender registry check checks across all states nationally to report if a candidate is a registered sex offender.

How far back does a background check go in Colorado?

Colorado applies a seven-year rule in regards to background checks. This is in line with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which states that background check reports cannot include arrests that are more than seven years old which did not result in a conviction. However, this rule has some exemptions, which include:

  • If the individual being considered for employment will be making an annual salary of $75,000 or more, or
  • The potential employee is being considered for a sensitive position in the medical or educational field.

How to remove criminal records from a background check

criminal record expungement
An experienced Denver criminal defense lawyer can help you with the sealing or expungement of criminal records.

If you have a criminal record, you need to know that it’s possible to have your criminal record removed from public access. However, this can be a complicated process that calls for working with a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Denver to either:

  1. Seal your criminal record: Record sealing is the process of removing a person’s criminal record from public access. Upon sealing, a record can only be viewed through a court order.  
  2. Expunge your criminal record: Expunging involves petitioning the courts to have the criminal records deleted.  For this reason, the conditions warranting expunging a criminal record is higher than that of sealing.

The process of having your records sealed or expunged in Colorado is a long one and can take between three to six months to have the courts accept or reject your request.

Contact a Denver criminal defense lawyer to help with clearing your criminal records

If you’re struggling with finding employment or housing due to criminal background check results, reach out to the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC. With over a decade of experience helping good people through tough times, our firm can help you manage your criminal records and move forward in your life. Give us a call at 303-635-6768 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.

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What To Know About a DUI in Colorado
/ 20 May, 2021

In Colorado, if you’re pulled over and the law enforcement officer finds out that you have a BAC of 0.08% or more, you’re likely to face DUI charges. However, if you are under 21, a BAC of as little as 0.02% can lead to underage drinking and driving (UDD) charges. Regardless of your circumstances, if you’re facing a DUI in Colorado, it’s best to work with an experienced DUI defense lawyer in Denver, CO who is familiar with the state laws and can walk you through what to expect and how to fight your DUI charges.

What happens during a DUI arrest?

Once you are pulled over for suspected DUI, the arresting officer may carry out a sobriety test to check your level of intoxication. Some of the tests may include a preliminary breath test on a handheld breathalyzer and the three standard field sobriety tests (FTS). These include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and the one-leg stand. 

Although an officer is allowed by law to perform these tests when making an arrest, taking the test is voluntary for a driver. That means a driver cannot be punished or charged with a crime for failing to take the test. If you have reason to believe that taking the test will incriminate you, it would be best to consult a DUI defense lawyer immediately. 


In Colorado, there are two levels of alcohol-related driving offenses depending on the prevailing circumstances. The first and the most serious is driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs (DUI), while the second is driving while impaired by alcohol and drugs (DWI).

A person can be charged with DUI in Colorado if they have a BAC of 0.08% or 0.02% for persons under 21. On the other hand, a person may be charged with DWI if they have a BAC of up to 0.05% and if the driver’s ability to drive is in any way impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Penalties for DUI in Colorado

breathalyzer test for a DUI charge
Penalties for a DUI in Colorado include fines, jail time, community service, and license suspension.


In Colorado, the penalties for DUI are contingent on prior convictions. Here is a breakdown of the DUI penalties in Colorado.

First-time offender

Upon conviction, a first-time offense will carry a less severe penalty compared to a second or subsequent offense.

  • Five days to a maximum of one year in jail
  • Fines of between $600 to $1000
  • 48 hours up to a maximum of 96 hours of community service
  • 12-point demerit on the driving license 
  • Having their driver’s license suspended for a period of up to 9 months

Second and third time DUI offenses

A second DUI conviction in Colorado is also a misdemeanor. However, it carries potentially harsher penalties than the first conviction, including:

  • Fines of between $600 to $1500
  • Ten days to a maximum of one year in jail for a second offense and 60 days to 1 year in jail for a third conviction
  • Community service of between 48 to 120 hours, or 
  • 1-year license revocation if the repeat offense is within five years to the previous conviction for a second conviction and a two-year suspension for a third conviction.
  • Drivers may also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed and functioning at all times when driving

Fourth DUI conviction

In Colorado, a fourth-time conviction with an alcohol-related offense is a class 4 felony that carries severe penalties, including: 

  • Fines of between $2000 and $5,000
  • Jail time of between 2 to 6 years in a Colorado state prison
  • 3-year mandatory parole
  • A two-year license suspension, or 
  • A requirement to have an ignition interlock device installed at all times while driving

Other possible consequences of a DUI conviction

The cost of a Colorado DUI conviction goes beyond the fines imposed on offenders, court charges, and legal representation fees. It is, therefore, essential to take the charges very seriously and work with a reliable DUI defense lawyer in Denver to avoid or reduce other consequences of a DUI conviction such as:

  • Higher cost of insurance premiums: If you are convicted of DUI, your car insurance premiums may go up because insurance companies view convicted drivers as riskier.
  • Difficulty finding employment: When hiring, most employers carry out a background check on potential candidates. Since a Colorado DUI conviction stays on the record for years, it may become difficult to find employment because many employers may view a DUI or DWI conviction as a red flag.

Hire an experienced Denver DUI defense lawyer today

If you find yourself facing a DUI charge in Colorado, working with an experienced DUI attorney is critical, considering the consequences of a conviction. Our skilled Denver DUI defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC has over a decade of experience representing Colorado residents who have been faced with similar circumstances. Irrespective of your DUI charge circumstances, your case stands a better chance with us. Give us a call today at 303-635-6768 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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What You Need To Know About Your Miranda Rights In Colorado
/ 13 May, 2021

The Miranda Rights come into play during the arrest process and can critically impact your criminal case depending on if the arresting officer applied them or not. Because the Miranda Rights apply to everyone, it’s critical to know exactly what they entail. As an overview of the Miranda Rights, also known as Miranda Warning, is offered by the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute:

“ ‘Miranda warning’ refers to the constitutional requirement that once an individual is detained by the police, there are certain warnings a police officer is required to give to a detainee.”

Below, our experienced criminal defense attorney elaborates on the history and use of this constitutional right and how it impacts a Colorado criminal case.

Why is it called Miranda Rights?

Also shared by the same Cornell Law School source, here’s a breakdown of how the name came about:

“The requirement to give Miranda warnings came from the Supreme Court decision, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966). In Miranda, the Court held that a defendant cannot be questioned by police in the context of a custodial interrogation until the defendant is made aware of the right to remain silent, the right to consult with an attorney and have the attorney present during questioning, and the right to have an attorney appointed if indigent.”

It’s critical to understand that you have legal rights if you’re put under arrest. This can go a long way in helping you avoid a mistake that could come back to harm you at a later date, such as if your case moves to the courtroom. 

What are the Miranda Rights?

attorney acquired through miranda rights
According to the Miranda Rights, you have the right to an attorney if you’re placed in custody or during interrogation.


There are four important points that make up the Miranda Rights:

  1. You have the right to remain silent
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
  3. You have the right to an attorney
  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you

Read through those points again. Now, do you see why it’s so important to understand your Miranda Rights?

For example, the right to remain silent means you don’t have to answer any questions from the police. You can simply decline and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Just the same, you have the right to an attorney, which is something you should take full advantage of. 

Do juveniles and minors have Miranda Rights?

The short answer is yes. Juveniles, just the same as adults, are entitled to have their Miranda Rights read to them during an interrogation or if they’re held in police custody. Furthermore, officers are required to read the Miranda Warning in an age-appropriate manner. 

When do Miranda Rights have to be read?

It’s a common myth that Miranda Rights must be read any time a law enforcement official is discussing a crime or potential crime with a suspect.

Miranda Rights must only be given in the event that you are both in custody and subject to interrogation. 

But remember this: custody doesn’t always mean that you’re at a police station or in a police car.

What if the police fail to advise me of my Miranda Rights?

Should police neglect to advise you of your Miranda Rights, any statement or confession you make is presumed to be involuntary. As a result, it can’t be used against you in a criminal case. 

Also, any evidence related to that statement or confession is likely to be thrown out.

If the police failed to advise you of your Miranda Rights, share this fact with your legal team. There’s a good chance it’ll work in your favor as your case heads to court.

Protect your rights with an experienced criminal defense attorney

With so much gray area and a variety of questions associated with the Miranda Warning, it’s best that you consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. They can provide you with the guidance you need during this difficult time of your life. When you turn to the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC you never have to worry about the “other side” taking advantage of you, such as by violating your legal rights. From a plea bargain to defending you in court, we’re there every step of the way. If you require legal representation, contact us online or give us a call today to set up a free consultation.

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How To Defend Against Assault Charges In Colorado
/ 06 May, 2021

There are no two ways about it: assault charges have the potential to turn your life upside down. As serious as the situation you’re facing may be, it’s good to know that charges don’t always result in a conviction. There are many assault defense strategies that an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney can employ on your behalf to prevent a conviction and the consequences associated with it.

Assault charges 101: What is assault?

The definition of assault varies from one state to the next, but it’s generally defined as intentionally putting another individual “in reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.” It’s important to note that physical injury is not required to be charged with assault.

In Colorado, there are three degrees of assault:

  1. First degree assault: This is the most serious type of assault, as it comes into play if you knowingly caused serious injury to another person. You can also be charged with first degree assault if you were acting negligently, thus leading to injury. 
  2. Second degree assault: This form of assault is less serious than first degree, but still associated with serious punishments if convicted. The main difference between second and first degree assault is that second degree is if you cause bodily injury — but not serious bodily injury. 
  3. Third degree assault: This type of assault is defined as knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury. 

What are the penalties in Colorado for assault?

The penalties for assault range in severity, with the potential to include: jail time, community service, and fines. Here’s a breakdown of penalties associated with each degree of assault:

  • First degree assault: Charged as a felony, a conviction carries a minimum prison sentence of six years. 
  • Second degree assault: Also a felony, a conviction carries a minimum prison sentence of four years. 
  • Third degree assault: As a class 1 misdemeanor, penalties can include up to two years in prison. 

What is assault and battery?

Assault and battery is generally more serious than assault only. Above, we talked about the three degrees of assault. Now, let’s look at some common examples of battery:

  • Grabbing a person with the intent to cause harm
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Unwanted touching

In many cases, if you’re charged with assault you’ll also be charged with battery. This can lead to a more serious punishment if convicted. 

What is aggravated assault?

Depending on the circumstances and evidence of the case, a simple assault charge can be elevated to a more serious aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is typically charged as first or second-degree assault, which are both felonies with the potential for a long prison sentence. 

Is it necessary to hit someone in order to be found guilty of assault?

You can be charged with and found guilty of assault even if you don’t strike another person. The only thing that is necessary is a reasonable belief that harmful contact will be inflicted on the victim.

Furthermore, striking someone isn’t the only form of assault. It can also entail things such as coughing or spitting if done in a purposeful manner.

What are the elements required to prove an assault?

  • The defendant intended to cause the victim harm or make them aware that they may be harmed.
  • The victim must believe that the defendant could be harmful to them.
  • The victim must believe that the harm was imminent, as opposed to a future threat.
  • The defendant must show some type of behavior that implies they have intentions to harm the victim.

What are the legal defenses to assault charges?

man arrested for assault charges
An experienced Denver criminal lawyer can challenge assault charges using various legal defense strategies such as that you acted in self-defense or duress.


Assault charges don’t always result in a conviction. You have the legal right to defend yourself against the charges, using strategies devised by an experienced Denver criminal defense lawyer:

  • Lack of proof or evidence: The victim must be able to satisfy the burden of proof by providing evidence to back up the claim of assault.
  • Involuntary intoxication: If you were involuntarily intoxicated at the time of the crime, such as the result of being drugged, you can argue that your actions were unintentional. 
  • Consent: It’s rare, but if the victim provided voluntary consent to the assault, it’s a sound defense strategy.
  • Duress: If you were under duress at the time of the crime, you can use this as a defense strategy. For example, you may be able to prove that someone forced you to choose between committing assault or suffering physical harm. 
  • Self-defense: With this, you admit that you committed the crime, however, you argue that you did so to protect yourself and/or someone else. 

Facing assault charges in Colorado? Contact our Denver criminal defense lawyer

If you find yourself faced with any type of assault charge, consult with an experienced Denver criminal defense lawyer. At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC we have over a decade of experience helping good people through tough times across Colorado. We have successfully defended many people charged with assault, battery, and related crimes. Contact us online or give us a call today to schedule a free consultation. 

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