September 28, 2023
If you’ve ever faced confusion when it comes to Colorado courts, you’re not alone – the system can be fairly complex. There are many layers and divisions and many don’t have a clear understanding of exactly how they work.
For example, if you are told that you are going to have to go to municipal court, you might have questions. Is your case less serious than those that go to other types of courts? What are the rules?… Do you still need an attorney? (Sometimes, the answer to that one is yes.)
In this blog post, we focus on municipal courts, the types of cases municipal judges hear, and when it’s wise to have an attorney navigating you through the process.
What Is a Colorado Municipal Court?
Municipal courts (or city courts) typically deal with violations of city laws. Because of this, these courts usually handle misdemeanors and petty offenses. Some of the crimes dealt with by these courts include shoplifting, traffic offenses, and other minor offenses (think noise ordinances and dog-leash violations).
Municipal courts in Denver function differently than other municipal courts in Colorado. This is because Denver is both a city and a county. As a result, Denver courts manage both municipal and county matters in the same place.
County courts oversee minor criminal offenses as well as some civil disputes. Trial by jury is permitted in a county court. The big issue with the municipal court system is that there is little to no state oversight or accountability.
Is There Corruption within the Municipal Court System?
A multi-year study conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) asked a similar question and came to some disturbing conclusions.
Specifically, research has found that the Alamosa Municipal Court has routinely and consistently infringed upon offenders’ rights.
Individuals accused of minor offenses often face jail time or the threat of jail time. Additionally, there are numerous documented cases of individuals being unlawfully denied appointed council and being forced into pleading guilty without having a chance to seek legal device.
The impoverished are the most at-risk group, with the investigation stating that this population faces patronizing and disrespectful behavior by the judge of the court. This lack of justice in our court system overall sets a terrifying precedent for everyone.
It’s also the primary reason you should consider having an attorney on your side.
What Kinds of CO Municipal Cases Benefit from an Attorney?
Whenever you are accused of a crime, it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer to represent you. Although cases that are tried in municipal courts are less severe, they can carry steep penalties, ranging from fines to jail time.
The matters most commonly (and positively) affected by having experienced legal counsel present include:
- Class A and Class B traffic offenses
- Class 1 and Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses
- Class 1 and Class 2 petty offenses
- Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 misdemeanors
If you’re unsure about whether a Colorado defense attorney would be appropriate for your municipal court case, reach out. We can review your case, and provide insight into your best course of action.
Ultimately, when you’re facing any kind of charges, it’s imperative you are aware that you always have a right to legal counsel, and your best bet is to seek the aid of a knowledgeable municipal court attorney.
A lawyered skill in the municipal court process can stand up for your rights and prevent any abuse from the court system.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.