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What You Need To Know About Plea Bargains In Colorado

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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.

Arrest Warrant vs. Bench Warrant vs. Search Warrant: What They Mean For Your Colorado Criminal Case

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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.

Tips For How To Deal With Police Officers

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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

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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

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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

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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.

What Is Probation? Things You Need To Know

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28 December, 2020

There are many consequences from finding yourself in trouble with the law. You could end up paying a fine. You could be required to complete community service. You could end up in jail or prison.

Depending on the type of crime, you may also be put on probation.

But what is probation? How does it affect you now and in the future?

If you have questions about the specific guidelines of your probation, you can consult with your probation officer for more information and a better understanding. However, it never hurts to personally learn more about the finer details of how the probation process works in Denver.

What is probation?

Probation is a court-ordered sanction that allows a person to remain free in their community as long as they agree to monitoring by a probation officer.

The terms of probation vary from case to case and often include things such as:

If you follow the guidelines of your probation, there will come a point when you can move past this part of your life.

Conversely, should you violate the rules of your probation, you could find yourself back in the court system. Depending on the violation, this could lead to being sent back to prison or jail. 

Can you go to jail if you’re on probation?

It’s a common myth that you won’t go to jail if you’re on probation. This doesn’t always hold true, as there are two distinct types of probation:

  1. Going on probation as opposed to going to jail. To remain out of jail, it’s required to successfully meet all the terms and conditions of probation. 
  2. Serving time in jail and then being put on probation upon your release. In this case, you may be able to serve a shortened sentence since you’ll be on probation in the future.

Some people will do whatever they can to avoid jail time. Others would rather do their time and get released, as opposed to going on probation. 

Knowing how each type of probation works will allow you to take the right approach as you move through the legal system.

Is probation really that serious?

If you avoid jail time – and are instead put on probation – you may think you’re in the clear. You may think you can still do whatever you want, for the most part.

While it’s true that probation allows you to remain free in your community, it’s important that you remain serious about the process.

The probation system is in place to keep the public safe. So, if you violate the rules of your probation, you’ll soon find yourself back in front of a judge.

What does a probation officer do?

Denver probation officer meeting.
Your Denver probation officer will meet with you regularly to make sure you’re meeting requirements and give you support throughout the probation process.

 

You don’t manage the probation process on your own. Instead, the court assigns a probation officer to you. 

This person has many responsibilities, including but not limited to:

  • Supervising your actions and behavior 
  • Meeting with you on a regular basis 
  • Assessing you to ensure that you’re living up to the guidelines of your probation
  • Talking to you about any risks that can result in a probation violation, such as illegally using drugs
  • Setting up drug and alcohol tests
  • Overseeing your rehabilitation 
  • Helping you gain access to any services you require, such as drug or alcohol rehabilitation and career counseling
  • Preparing documentation for the court (such as when it’s time to go off probation)
  • Providing overall support in an attempt to help you maintain a stable life

It’s important to note that your probation officer isn’t “out to get you.” Yes, they’re part of the legal system, but they truly want to keep you in the community. 

You don’t have to be friends with your probation officer, but respecting them and making their job easier would be in your best interest. 

A Denver criminal defense attorney will guide you in the probation process

It doesn’t matter if you’re leaving jail or being put on probation instead of serving time, it’s important to understand what the probation process involves. Any unanswered questions or concerns can cause you trouble down the road.

If you have reason to believe your criminal charges could result in probation or worse, consult with the experienced Denver criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC.

With an experienced and knowledgeable Denver legal team on your side, you’ll better understand your criminal charges, how to protect your legal rights, and how the probation process could work in your favor.

The word “probation” is scary to most, but it doesn’t have to be. The more knowledge you gather, the easier it is to understand your situation and how to make the most of it so you can move on with your life. Give us a call today at 303-635-6768 to schedule your free consultation.

5 Things to Consider When Bailing Someone Out of Jail

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21 December, 2020

When a friend or a family member gets arrested, you will do anything you can to get them out. Sometimes this means bailing them out of jail. While this may seem like an easy thing to do, it can be complicated and expensive in the long run, especially if you make misguided decisions based on emotions. So, before you pay bail to get that person you care about out of jail, here are five important things you need to know.

Consideration 1: Bailing someone out of jail can be expensive

There’s no denying that bailing someone out of jail is expensive. For instance, if you work with a bonding agent, you’ll have to pay administrative costs and a non-refundable fee. In Colorado, the fee is usually 10 to 15% of what you pay as a bail amount. That means if the bail amount is $50,000, you’ll have to part with a whopping $5,000 non-refundable fee plus the administrative cost.

While posting the bail amount directly to the court will help you avoid the bail bonds company fee, this option means that your money will be tied up for months before you can get it back. In some cases, outstanding fines and court costs may be deducted from the full cash bail amount before getting a refund. As a result, what you get back can be a lot less, particularly if your loved one is eventually found guilty.

That’s perhaps the reason why most people turn to bond companies to protect their cash. While this option may be equally expensive in the end, it helps you eliminate the risk of posting bail amount to the court. However, you’ll still part with the 10% fee.

Consideration 2: Missing court dates could have serious consequences

Man arrested after being bailed out of jail and failing to make court appearances.
Bailing someone of out jail comes with risks, including missed court appearances that can lead to arrest warrants.

 

When you bail someone you love out of jail, they typically have several court dates to attend. Missing one could lead to an arrest warrant. If they are not found within the specified period, the money or property you posted for bail could go into default. That means if you had involved a bonding company, they’ll forfeit the whole amount to the court and then seek repayment from you. 

Consideration 3: You might have to pay for their poor choices

Bailing someone out of jail typically means they will have to fulfill certain bond conditions. For instance, your loved one might be ordered not to make contact with the alleged victim. In selected cases, they might also be required to attend alcohol or drug treatment programs, not to leave the county, or not to associate with co-defendants in any way. It is usually your responsibility to ensure that they meet all these court-mandated requirements.

If they violate any of the terms given, the bond may be revoked, and they are sent back to jail. The consequences of violating the bond conditions do not fall on the offender only. They may spill on you, too. If, for example, you had put collateral up, whether jewelry, guns, cars, houses or more, you could be ordered to forfeit these possessions to the bail bonds company.

Consideration 4: There’s no guarantee that you will get back what you put in

When bailing someone out of jail, it’s not uncommon for you to be asked to pay $50,000 to secure the bond. Giving out such an amount in liquidity can be difficult, considering there is no certainty that you will get back what you put in. Sometimes the only option you have is to work with a bonding company to allow you post bail through a property bond at a fee.

While this is definitely a good alternative, things could get really messy if the payment is not remitted to the bonding company. If, for instance, you had used your house and the fee was not paid to the bail bonds agent, you could lose your house, even if the defendant shows up to all court dates.

Consideration 5: Hiring an experienced criminal attorney can help mitigate risks

When bailing someone out of jail, it is possible to use a property to secure a bond. This could be anything from your paid-off car, a piece of land, a house, an art collection, or anything of value that you own.

Before you agree to a property bond, you need to read and understand all the legal terms and conditions. If you are not sure about anything, talk to an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney. Doing this will help you mitigate the risk of losing the property you use to secure a bond for your loved one.

Bailing someone out of jail? Seek help from a Denver criminal defense attorney

If your loved one has been arrested in Colorado or you are planning to bail them out of jail, you owe it to yourself to contact an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney for help. The criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC understands the value of helping good people through tough times and has been defending the rights of Colorado residents for over 10 years. We’ll help you understand bond laws, work with you to reduce the bail amount or even arrange for your loved one’s release. Contact us online or give us a call today to schedule your free consultation.

What Are Possible Defenses to DUI and DWAI Charges in Colorado?

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21 October, 2020

If you are facing driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) charges in Colorado, you need a legal professional who can protect your legal rights and fight for your freedom. You need to consult with a criminal defense attorney who understands the law and can help you identify the possible defenses to DUI or DWAI charges in your unique case.

What is the Difference Between DUI and DWAI Charges in Colorado?

Many drivers in Colorado do not understand the difference between DUI and DWAI charges. The criminal charge depends on the alcohol concentration in your blood. The biggest difference between the two charges is that you can be charged with DUI when your blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds .08%, while DWAI charges are triggered when your BAC is higher than .05% but lower than .08%.

Under Colorado’s drunk driving laws, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC level of at least .08%. In Colorado, law enforcement officers have sufficient grounds to arrest a driver if their ability to operate a vehicle is even slightly impaired by alcohol or drugs.

What Are the Penalties for DUI and DWAI Charges in Colorado?

While a first-time offense of driving under the influence and driving while ability impaired is a misdemeanor in Colorado, DUI is associated with harsher penalties. In Colorado, a first-time DUI offender can face:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Up to 96 hours of community service
  • A suspension of a driver’s license for up to 9 months

In Colorado, a driver whose BAC level exceeds .15% can be designated as a persistent drunk driver (PDD). PDDs are sentenced as repeat DUI offenders, even if this is their first offense.

Penalties for DWAI charges include:

  • Up to 180 days in jail and no more than $500 in fines for a first offense.
  • Up to 1 year in jail, up to $1,500 in fines, a suspension of a driver’s license for a year, and mandatory Interlock Ignition Device for a second offense.
  • Up to 1 year in jail, up to $1,500 in fines, a suspension of a driver’s license for two years, and mandatory Interlock Ignition Device for a third offense.
  • For three or more previous DWAI or DUI charges, a repeat offender can be charged with Class 4 felony and face up to 6 years in prison and three years of parole.

Unlike many other states, Colorado has no washout or lookback period for DUIs and DWAIs. In other words, your previous DUIs and DWAIs will count for the purposes of sentencing no matter how many years have passed.

Possible DUI/DWAI Defenses in Colorado

Just because you were charged with a DUI or DWAI in Colorado does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted. With a Denver DUI defense attorney on your side, you can fight a charge with one of the following defense strategies:

  • Unlawful stop. In Colorado, police officers are not allowed to stop drivers unless there is probable cause. In other words, it is illegal for law enforcement officers to pull you over if you did not violate a law. If you were charged with DUI or DWAI in Denver or other parts of Colorado after an unlawful stop, your case would be dismissed.
  • Illegal DUI/DWAI checkpoints. Law enforcement officers must comply with strict rules when it comes to setting up DUI/DWAI checkpoints or roadblocks. You could contest the validity of the DUI or DWAI arrest if the arresting police officer failed to adhere to the applicable rules when setting up the sobriety checkpoint.
  • Inaccurate field sobriety test. The validity of a field sobriety test can be contested by an experienced criminal defense attorney, especially if you are disabled, older than 65, overweight or obese, injured, or have a medical condition.
  • Improper breathalyzer test. The result of a breathalyzer test can be dismissed in your DUI or DWAI case if the arresting police officer failed to administer the test correctly or the equipment was improperly calibrated.
  • Inaccurate blood test. A skilled DUI defense attorney can cast doubt on the accuracy of the blood test, especially if the blood sample was not collected, stored, handled, or stored correctly.
  • Medical condition. In many DUI/DWAI cases, physical and behavioral attributes become grounds for an arrest. Certain signs of impairment, including bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, can be symptoms of a medical condition or use of prescription medication.

You should consult with a DUI/DWAI defense lawyer in Colorado to identify the most appropriate defense strategy in your particular case. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you get your DUI or DWAI charge reduced or even dismiss your case altogether.

What’s a Felony in Colorado?

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15 September, 2020

If you are facing felony charges, you may feel nervous, confused, and unsure of what you should do next. What’s a felony under Colorado state law? What consequences will you face? Should you hire an attorney?

A felony is a serious crime category in Colorado State, above petty offenses or misdemeanors. Being charged and convicted on a felony has far-reaching, public consequences. However, it doesn’t mean that your life is over. Having an experienced felony attorney can mean the difference between spending years in prison for a crime you didn’t commit and securing your freedom.

Types of felonies

Felony charges fall under six categories, with legal penalties ranging from a year in prison to life imprisonment. These classifications are not set on stone. Different aggravating factors, the involvement of other entities, and multiple convictions might change the classification of the specific crime you are charged with.

For instance, if you didn’t register as a sex offender once, you will likely be charged with a class 6 felony. If you fail to register twice, you are likely to face class 5 felony. Another example is when one is charged with assault. First-degree assault is a class 3 felony while fourth, third, or second falls under class 4 felony.

Class 6 felony 

These crimes are considered serious felonies. The penalty for these crimes is 12 to 18 months in prison and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. Examples of these crimes include;

  • Animal cruelty
  • Promoting a pyramid scheme
  • Failure to register (first time) as a sex offender
  • Possession of weapons if you had been convicted of a felony previously
  • Practicing a profession without the required license
  • Impersonating a peace officer
  • Possession of schedule I or II drugs (four grams or less)

Class 5 Felony 

In Colorado, class 5 felony involves slightly more serious crimes compared to class 6 felony crimes. The penalty for these crimes is 12 to 36 months in prison. The offender may also face fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. Common examples of these crimes include;

  • False imprisonment
  • Forgery
  • Property theft
  • Sale of five or fewer pounds of marijuana
  • A second offense involving animal cruelty
  • Embezzlement of public resources
  • Refusal to pay child support or spousal support

Class 4 felony 

Crimes classified as class 4 felony are punishable by 2 years to 6 years’ imprisonment. The offender may also face $2,000 to $500,000. Common examples of these crimes include.

  • Manslaughter
  • Identity theft
  • Sexual assault
  • The unlawful purchase of a firearm
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Perjury (firs degree)

Class 3 felony 

A conviction of any crime classified as a class 3 felony can result in a 4-12-year sentence in state prison and $3,000 to $750,000 fine. Examples of these crimes include;

  • Arson (first degree)
  • Pimping
  • Assault (first degree)
  • Burglary (first degree)
  • Money laundering

Class 2 felonies

These crimes are punishable by 8-24 years’ imprisonment. The accused may also face a fine ranging from $5,000 to $1,000,000. Common examples of class 2 felonies include;

  • Human trafficking
  • Murder (second degree)
  • Racketeering activities

Class 1 felony 

Any crime in this category is considered very serious and is punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment. Examples of class 1 felonies include treason and murder (first degree).

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Like all other states, Colorado State divides crimes into misdemeanors and felonies. The latter is considered a serious crime. If you are facing such charges, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney who can defend your rights.

 

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