I am a Denver criminal defense lawyer who represents criminal defendants for both misdemeanor and felony charges. Unlike many other lawyers in Denver, Colorado, who practice several areas of law without specializing in the complex processes of criminal justice system, my firm is entirely dedicated to criminal defense and does not practice other areas of law.
Our firm specializes in cases like:
- Domestic Violence Defense
- DUI / DWAI Defense
- Juvenile Criminal Defense
- Assault Defense
- Careless & Reckless Driving Defense
- Sealing of Criminal Records
- Drug Possession Defense
- Shoplifting & Theft Defense
- Traffic Ticket Defense
- Sealing of Criminal Records & Expungement
- Weapons Charges Defense & USCCA
- DMV Hearing Defense
- Driving Under Revocation / Driving Under Suspension / HTO
The Criminal Justice Process
Understanding the process of a criminal case can help relieve some of the stress and doubt of being charged with a crime. There are quite a few stages of the criminal justice process in Colorado. Below, I have outlined some steps that most people charged with a crime encounter.
1. The Filing of Charges: The accused has to appear at court in order to officially receive charges. The judge counsels the accused about their rights, sets a bond (bail), and sets next court appearance date. At this appearance, we can negotiate a reduction in bond on your behalf, amend protection orders and remove or amend other conditions of your bond.
2. The Preliminary Hearing (Felony matters): At this hearing, the prosecutor will be required to present sufficient evidence to prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant committed the crimes he or she is charged with committing. The prosecutor is not required to put on all of their evidence or even the testimony of the victim. The Court will allow statements of witnesses to come into evidence through a detective or other police officer. The defendant will not testify. With few exceptions, only persons charged with a class 1, 2, or 3 felony, or who are in jail on a class 4, 5, or 6 felony, are entitled to this hearing. Any person may waive the right to a preliminary hearing. Waiving the hearing is not unusual and is done to keep open a plea bargain. By waiving a preliminary hearing, the defendant does not waive any other of his or her rights. After the hearing, if the Judge decides sufficient evidence exists, the case will be bound over to District Court for arraignment.
3. Arraignment: At this hearing, the accused must plead not guilty in order to have a trial. Pleading “not guilty” will suddenly start the clock running on specific deadlines based on nature of the charges. Normally, deadlines apply to motions filing and the acceptance of a plea bargain. Municipal courts in the state compel the accused to pay a $25 jury fee within 21 days from the day they enter a “not guilty” plea. If the fee is not paid in the given time, the court will deny the accused a jury trial and will set the case for a bench (judge only) trial.
4. The Disposition Hearing: This may be your Denver criminal defense attorney’s first chance to talk to the District Attorney regarding your case and a probable plea agreement. It could be risky for the accused to speak directly with the District Attorney. It is best to have a qualified lawyer speak to the prosecutor to reduce the risk of something being said that can create a problem for you later.
5. Pretrial or Motions Hearings: As your case progresses, some issues may appear that must be resolved by the judge. Your attorney may want to suppress some or all of the evidence against you by filing motions. For instance, motions may be filed to disregard physical evidence or statements to the police. Also, motions can force the prosecutor to provide additional evidence or information that necessary for your defense.
6. Trial: If no satisfactory plea agreement can be reached, then your case moves ahead for a trial. Everyone accused has the right to a “speedy trial”. This means the court must hear your trial within a definite time period. Municipal courts usually work under a 90 day speedy trial rule; County and District Courts work under a 180 day speedy trial rule. During the trial, it is important to have a Denver criminal defense lawyer. The prosecuting attorney is an expert in the law and trial strategy. Pro Se or self representing individuals are at an extreme disadvantage if they decide to face a professional trial attorney alone. You need an experienced trial attorney on your side, call Denver Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Pisani today.
7. Sentencing: If the accused is found guilty, the court will impose a sentence. In between the conviction and sentencing, the probation department in your county might be asked to write a pre-sentence investigation report that is abbreviated as a “PSI”. Our firm can petition the judge to approve consequences other than jail or incarceration, such as: Probation, in-home detention, intensive supervised probation, work release & community corrections. Check out our Colorado Criminal Sentencing Guidelines page for detailed information.
8. Appeal: An appeal is not a retrial of the case, but it serves as an inspection of the trial record to confirm that the proceedings happened impartially and within the bounds of the law. There are some strict deadlines that must be followed for appeal filing. Contact a Denver criminal defense lawyer today for more info.
We provide personal representation at every stage of the process
Choosing the right criminal attorney is very important, but ultimately it is your personal decision. Denver Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Pisani is committed to offering clients with the best legal support during their tough times. When you choose the Pisani Law firm, you get frequent correspondence, personal attention, and professional wisdom at every step in your case. We will stand by your side at every court appearance and will advocate for your legal rights. My firm develops strong and convincing case defenses, and makes all possible efforts to protect your rights and reduce your punishments. Call today to find out why we are one of the top rated criminal defense law firms in Denver.