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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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;
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;
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.
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;
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;
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).
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.
Crime is up in Denver. Data from police departments across the city reveal an increase in arrests in nearly every category. Assaults, car theft, and other crimes have risen. The Denver Police Department sees tens of thousands of crimes annually. Here is a breakdown of the most common arrests in Denver based on recent reports.
In 2018, Denver’s police department saw 1,453 DUI-related cases and 3,780 narcotics-related violations. The most prevalent arrestee age for narcotics violations and DUI crimes was 25 to 34. Also, arrestees aged 18-24 were the second most prevalent for DUI offenses, and arrestees aged 35-44 were second most prevalent for narcotics-related violations.
Out of all the 3,780 narcotics-related violations, concealing and/or possessing was the most common crime, at 81.8% of all the cases in that category. Selling and/or distribution of drugs was the second most common crime in this category, at 14% of the 3,780 narcotics violations.
Other arrests in Denver such as the consumption of drugs, manufacturing, cultivating, transportation, and importation of these drugs varied from 1% to 2% of the arrests made. Narcotics such as heroin and opium were the most common type of drugs, sized at 44.6 % of the reported cases. Stimulants ranked the second common type of drugs at 40.4 percent, and marijuana was also involved at 7.9% of all the arrests made. Hallucinogens and other related drugs varied from 1% and 2% of all cases.
Generally, violent crimes include cases of non-consensual sex crimes, murder, robbery, and aggravated assault. In 2018, Denver reported 5,802 cases involving violent crimes. Assault was the most common crime, with 3,314 reported cases. The reported cases of non-consensual sex offenses were 1,200, and the cases of robberies were 1,200.
Violent crime arrests in Denver and most of their victims were often aged 25-34. The victims of the crimes either didn’t know the offender or they were acquaintances. Also, the most violent crimes involved with personal weapons, including teeth, feet, hands, and fists. However, at least 1,500 reported cases of violent crimes involved firearms.
According to the FBI, hate crime is a criminal offense against property or entity motivated entirely or partly by the offender’s bias against a religion, sexual orientation, gender, race, disability, ethnicity, or gender identity. In 2018, 28 cases of hate crimes were reported. Ethnicity, ancestry bias, and race were the most common offenses, affecting 12 different victims.
Offenses linked to sexual orientation ranked second, while religious bias, gender identity bias, and disability bias had two, three, and one victim, respectively. Most of these crimes occurred in camps, roads, and parking lots. Other places where these offenses occurred include educational facilities, commercial locations, and residential areas. Most victims were subjected to intimidation and aggravated assault.
Property crimes are incidents in which an offender intends to acquire property, money, or other benefits. Some of these crimes include burglary, robbery, or bribery. These crimes were the most common type of crime across the entire city in 2018. They include;
If you or someone you know was arrested in Denver for any offenses, talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Steven J. Pisani. Either way. The law is a complicated field, and nothing is ever straightforward, and you need a defense attorney to show you the way.
In Boulder County, a white police officer approached a black male college student outside of a Naropa University dorm. When asked, the male student, Mr. Atkinson, provided his name, address, and information pertaining to his behavior that caused the officer, Officer Smyly, to become suspicious and approach Mr. Atkinson. Despite Mr. Atkinson providing Officer Smyly this information, Officer Smyly called in other officers for backup and threatened to tase Mr. Atkinson. Officer Smyly was found in violation of two department policies. Attorneys believe that Atkinson was racially profiled. Cop Resigns from his position but will continue to be paid his salary for the next eight months. He will be collecting roughly $69,000.
The Law Offices of Steven J Pisani, LLC specializes in DUI, traffic and criminal defense. Call our Denver office today for a free consultation at 303-635-6768.
NY Post, Joshua Rhett Miller, May 17th, 2019
A man from Oregon has been exonerated from what would have been a 50-year prison sentence after the discovery of a black lab named Lucy lead to the unraveling of the District Attorney’s case. Joshua Horner, a plumber from Redmond, OR, was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor in 2017.
The alleged victim in the case had testified that Horner threatened to shoot her animals if she spoke to the police about the alleged molestation.
She then claimed that Horner actually shot and killed Lucy the black lab to make his point. After being convicted by a non-unanimous jury, Horner turned to the Oregon Innocence Project for help.
The group immediately set out to look for Lucy, as Horner insisted he never shot the dog. Finding Lucy was no easy task, but the Innocence Project was aided by the Deschutes County District Attorney’s office, who had agreed to work with the group after they raised concerns about Horner’s case.
Finally, Lucy was found in a town Northwest of Portland called Gearhart. She was alive and well, meaning the accuser had lied in her testimony. This forced the District Attorney’s office to reconsider their stance, and soon enough Horner’s conviction was reversed, and another trial ordered.
The alleged victim from the case has since been uncooperative with the District Attorney’s office, and Horner will no longer have to go to the second trial. This was the first exoneration achieved by the Oregon Innocence Project, who was established in 2014.
The Law Offices of Steven J Pisani specialize in DUI, traffic, and criminal defense. Call our Denver office today for a free consultation at 303-635-6768.
NY Post, Associated Press, September 11th, 2018
Famous UFC fighter and tumultuous personality Conor McGregor has recently taken a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to Disorderly Conduct in exchange for no jail time. McGregor was originally facing twelve criminal charges including Menacing, Assault Resulting in Injury, Reckless Endangerment, and Criminal Mischief from an altercation that occurred last April with other fighters. Such charges could carry a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison, but instead McGregor only has to undergo anger management classes and community service. The Law Offices of Steven J Pisani specialize in DUI, traffic, and criminal defense. Call our Denver office today for a free consultation at 303-635-6768. BBC News, No author listed, July 26th, 2018