Colorado District Court Attorney Defending Cases Throughout Colorado
Being charged in Colorado District Court is always a serious matter. This is because to be charged in district court, one necessarily is charged with at least one felony. A felony is a charge that has a possible sentence of over a year in custody. There are six classes of felonies, in which a Class 1 Felony is the most serious, and a Class 6 Felony is the least serious. To get more information on specific sentencing ranges for felonies, click here. It is also possible to be charged with misdemeanors and petty offenses in district court, but these charges will necessarily be accompanied by at least one felony charge.
Felonies are generally initiated through a warrant and arrest. Felonies can be initiated by the district attorney or a grand jury. In the beginning stages of a felony, an individual is advised of the charges and a bond is set. Subsequently, and individual will be scheduled for either a preliminary hearing or a mandatory dispositional conference. Preliminary hearings and mandatory dispositional conferences are generally the second or third court appearance a defendant has. These appearances are conducted in county court. However, after the preliminary hearing or mandatory dispositional conference is held, the case will be set — or “bound over” — to district court, where it will remain through its disposition. It is important to have an experienced attorney on your side during these early phases of the case case.
The preliminary hearing is the first chance that the defense has to challenge the state’s evidence. At a preliminary hearing, a judge will determine whether there is probable cause for the case to continue moving forward. This is a low bar that, essentially, boils down to how sure the judge believes the officers were. If the judge believes the officers were acting on a hunch, then the case could be thrown out. If the judge believes the officers had a firm and reasonable belief, the case will move forward. Although this is a low hurdle to keep the case moving forward, defeating the case in such an early phase provides a tremendous relief. Not only would the case finished without a mark on a person’s record, but also the financial toll would significantly diminished. It is important to note, however, that you are not entitled to a preliminary hearing in every case. A class 1 through class 3 felony is automatically eligible for a preliminary hearing, but a class 4 through class 6 felony is not eligible for a preliminary hearing unless the person is in custody. An experience Denver defense attorney will advise and guide you through the preliminary hearing process.
Once the case is in district court, there will be at least one arraignment appearance. Depending upon the jurisdiction, there may be at least one additional arraignment. However, most district court judges prefer to keep these cases moving forward, procedurally, and so some judges only allow one arraignment appearance. After the final arraignment, the defendant will be required to enter a plea. Generally, the plea entered is not guilty. Once a not guilty plea has been entered, the state has 180 days within which to try the defendant. This 180 day requirement is called the “speedy trial rule.” If the state fails to try the defendant within 180 days of the arraignment, the speedy trial rule requires that the case be dismissed. This occurs very rarely, because both courts and prosecutors are wary of any approaching deadlines with regard to speedy trial. Oftentimes at the arraignment, a trial date is set. A person charged with a felony is entitled to a jury trial by 12 of his peers. Many times, negotiations continue even after a case is set for trial. However, if a trial occurs, the defendant faces the possibility of a felony conviction upon a verdict of “guilty.” Nonetheless, it is always the state’s burden to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, every element of every offense charged. If the state does so, unanimously amongst all jurors, the state will prevail. If the state fails to do so, there will be either a not guilty verdict or a hung jury. If the case results in a hung jury, the state can and may decide to retry the case to a new jury at a later date. This decision rests solely within the discretion of the prosecution; however, the split of the jury may shed some light. In a case where 10 jurors wanted to acquit and only 2 wanted to convict, the state is less likely to retry the case than if the verdicts were reversed.
Due to the serious nature of district court cases, an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential. Mr. Martinez and his associates are Colorado criminal lawyers who have represented clients in all types of cases, including felonies. Mr. Martinez has achieved dismissals and deferred judgments in multiple felony matters through his career. Mr. Martinez takes cases throughout Colorado, including in:
- Denver County District Court
- Arapahoe County District Court
- Adams County District Court
- Douglas County District Court
- Boulder County District Court
- Weld County District Court
- Gilpin County District Court
- Jefferson County District Court
- Broomfield County District Court
- Summit County District Court
- Park County District Court
- Larimer County District Court
- and others.
If you are facing a felony charge in Colorado, contact a criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Jacob E. Martinez today to discuss your case.