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Types of Defenses for Criminal Cases

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02 July, 2021

If you have been accused, arrested, charged with a criminal offense, you still reserve the right to fight your charges. This is best done by presenting your defense arguments to challenge whatever evidence the prosecution has against you. Whether you are facing a criminal, DUI, or traffic charge, you will want to enlist a skilled lawyer. A good Denver criminal defense attorney will review the facts of your case, apprise you of your legal options, and develop compelling legal defenses to fight the charges in your criminal case. 

Here are some of the most common types of defenses used in criminal cases: 

Self-defense 

When facing criminal charges, you may raise the affirmative defense and argue that you acted in self-defense. This is one of the most common defense strategies that can help justify your actions and absolve you from any liability, particularly in assault or murder cases. 

However, you must convince the court that the aim of your actions, which otherwise would be considered criminal, was to protect yourself from the aggressor. Also, you must prove that your actions were equivalent to the threat leveled against you. 

If, for example, you are being accused of homicide, you must show that the attacker would have otherwise killed you, and hence you committed the criminal offense to prevent your own death. 

Alibi defense 

Another common type of defense that can apply to criminal cases is alibi defense. In this defense strategy, you may argue that you were not the actual perpetrator of the crime, but someone else. It’s essential to keep in mind that sufficient and credible evidence is key to presenting a strong alibi defense. 

Coercion and duress

When the circumstances that led you to commit a crime involved coercion and duress, you may be able to use that as a defense argument. This is usually a criminal defense that shows that you did not willingly commit the crime. 

However, you must show that you acted out of fear or the threat of illegal force that was levelled against you or someone close to you. For coercion and duress to qualify as a defense argument, you must also show that your own actions did not lead you into the situation where duress and coercion occurred. 

The insanity defense

If you committed a criminal offense and did not have control over your actions, you may be able to use the insanity defense. This defense states that even though you committed the crime you are being accused of, you did not know that what you did was illegal. Therefore, you must support your argument by showing that you were sleepwalking, deluded, provoked, or seriously mentally disabled.

Other common types of defenses for criminal cases may include:

  • You are a victim of entrapment
  • Defense of others or property 
  • The allegations are false
  • You had no intention to commit a crime 
  • The statute of limitations has expired

The burden of proof

Regardless of your defense strategy, the burden of proof lies on you. That means you must convince the judge or jury that you are telling the absolute truth and support your arguments with all the evidence you can gather. 

Doing this is not as easy as it sounds. You must have a criminal defense attorney on your corner. An experienced defense lawyer understands the risks associated with each type of defense and will help you devise a compelling defense strategy to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence. 

If you have been accused of a criminal, DUI, or traffic offense in Colorado, our Denver criminal defense attorney is here for you. Call our office today at 303-529-2834 for a free consultation. 

16 Terms You Need to Know in Criminal Defense Cases

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30 June, 2021

Being arrested for or charged with a criminal offense is bad enough, but not knowing what to say or do is even worse. Your case becomes even more overwhelming when you do not understand the language used by law enforcement officers, prosecutors, or other professionals in the criminal justice system. But you don’t have to deal with the intimidation that comes with the legal jargon if you let the skilled Denver criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC take your case. Besides handling every aspect of your criminal case professionally, our lawyer will make sure you understand all legal terms relevant to your case, including:

1. Plaintiff

A plaintiff is a person, organization, or group of people who initiate charges over another person or group of persons.

2. Defendant

The defendant refers to the person or an entity to whom the plaintiff files a lawsuit. As a defendant in a lawsuit, you stand to lose the most in case of an unfavorable outcome, and it is always best to work with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney.

3. Presumption of innocence

Presumption of innocence is a principle in law that considers every person accused of any crime innocent until proven guilty. For a court to find a defendant guilty, the plaintiff or the prosecution must prove their guilt in court beyond a reasonable doubt.

4. Beyond reasonable doubt

Beyond a reasonable doubt is a legal term that describes the standard of proof required to warrant a conviction in a criminal case. Usually, this burden of proof lies with the prosecution, meaning it’s their responsibility to remove any reasonable doubt in the jury’s minds that the accused is guilty of the crimes they are charged with.

5. Felony

Felonies are crimes that are viewed as severe by society and often include burglary, kidnapping, arson, murder, and rape. Because a conviction for a felony may attract a penalty of at least one year in jail to death, it’s always advisable to have legal representation when facing felony charges.

6. Misdemeanor

A misdemeanor is a crime of lesser severity than a felony and often carries less severe punishment – usually less than a year. Misdemeanor offenses include shoplifting, disorderly conduct, trespassing, simple assault, and other low-level offenses. 

7. Probable cause

For the police to arrest a person, conduct a search, or seize property perceived to be related to a crime, they must have probable cause. In simple terms, the accused must have acted in a way that warrants an arrest or search. 

8. Fourth amendment rights

The fourth amendment is a right enshrined in the American constitution prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures. It requires law enforcement officers to obtain a search warrant which must be justified by probable cause and supported by oath or affirmation.

9. Plea bargain

A plea bargain is a deal struck between the prosecutor and the defendant. In a plea bargain, the defendant may agree to plead guilty or no contest and instead get reduced charges, a lesser sentence, or have some charges dropped.

10. Bail

Bail is the money paid by the defendant to secure their release from police custody until the set date of appearing in court. It serves as collateral to ensure the suspect honors their promise to appear in court. 

11. Cross-examination

Cross-examination is when the opposing side’s lawyer asks questions to the other side’s witnesses, mostly in a bid to discredit their testimony. 

12. Due process

Due process refers to procedures that must be followed in a trial to ensure that all participants have their constitutional rights honored and protected. A skilled Denver criminal defense attorney can help you have your charges dropped if due process was not followed in the course of your trial.

13. Acquittal

An acquittal refers to a court ruling that declares the defendant is not guilty of the charges brought against them.

14. Sentencing

When a defendant is found guilty of a specific charge(s), the court proceeds to pass the befitting punishment referred to as sentencing in legal terms.

15. Legal representation

Legal representation means having a trained attorney representing you in court. Every defendant has a right to legal representation under the sixth amendment.

16. Miranda rights

Any conversations with the police are admissible as evidence in court only if the police clearly state Miranda rights to the suspect before taking a statement. The rights include the right to remain silent, have a lawyer during interrogation, and the right to a public attorney if you can’t afford one.

Contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney today

Court procedures and criminal case legal terms can be intimidating, but you don’t have to worry about that if you trust Steven J. Pisani to take your case. He is an exceptional Denver criminal defense attorney with a thorough knowledge of Colorado criminal law.

Please contact us online or give us a call 303-635-6768 today to have the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC look into your case and guide you through the legal terms relevant to your criminal charges.

How A Criminal Background Check Affects You In Colorado

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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.

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

What You Need To Know About Your Miranda Rights In Colorado

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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

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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. 

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt: The Burden Of Proof In A Colorado Criminal Case

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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

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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.

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