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Colorado Springs Legal Issues Blog

Perceived threats could lead to a stalking charge

The idea of learning all about someone who is the object of a crush can seem harmless. In fact, television shows and movies portray this as romantic more often than not. Having someone find out personal details may feel unnerving or uncomfortable for some people, though, particularly if that person is a recent acquaintance. 

It is a good idea to understand exactly what behaviors the Colorado statute defines as stalking.

Legal groups challenging policies that jail poor over fines

Many cities in Colorado and other states rely on court fines and fees to balance their departmental budgets. Some defendants who are unable to pay their fines are jailed or placed on probation until they pay off the debt. This sometimes occurs even if the individual hasn't been convicted of a crime. In response, an increasing number of legal organizations are fighting to raise awareness about these practices and bring them to an end.

Back in 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to imprison people who lack the funds to pay court fines and fees. However, that hasn't stopped many cities and counties, underfunded due to their reluctance to raise taxes, from using their court systems as a revenue-generating arm. Further, when people can't pay, some counties pass the debts to for-profit debt collection companies, which add up to 30% in fees to the unpaid balance and threaten to have debtors arrested. Some of those who are jailed are forced to pay for their incarceration, creating a mountain of debt that is nearly impossible to pay off. It also causes many people to lose their jobs, lose custody of their children and get divorced.

Asset forfeiture laws may not help keep communities safer

Authorities in Colorado and throughout the country say that asset forfeiture laws are a necessary tool to help fight crime. However, those who study the issue say that it's little more than a way for local governments to raise revenue. A study released by the Institute for Justice says that for every 1% unemployment goes up in an area, asset forfeiture increases by 9%. Furthermore, other research has found that relatively minor amounts of money are seized in most cases.

One study conducted by the Texas Tribune looked at 560 asset forfeiture cases in the state. It found that in 50% of cases, less than $3,000 was taken from individuals. In South Carolina, a study revealed that less than $1,000 was taken in 55% of cases. This seems to undercut assertions made by law enforcement groups that they seize assets as a means of combating major drug rings.

The importance of the criminal discovery process

If you face criminal charges in Colorado, the last thing you and your attorney need are nasty surprises cropping up during trial. (S)he needs to know exactly what the prosecution has so that (s)he can develop a strategy to best defend you. This is where the criminal discovery process serves as his or her best ally and therefore yours as well.

Discovery is the pre-trial process during which each side must, by law, divulge certain information to the other side. For instance, the prosecution must provide your attorney with the following:

  • A transcript of any oral statement you gave to law enforcement officers and/or a copy of any written statement you gave them
  • A copy of any prior criminal record you have
  • A list of any other defendants who will be prosecuted with you and their contact information
  • A copy of any document the prosecutor plans to rely on during your trial
  • A copy of any test results the prosecutor plans to rely on during your trial
  • A list of the witnesses the prosecutor plans to call to the stand to help him or her prove his or her case against you

How to defend against drunk driving charges

People who are arrested and charged with driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be given the opportunity to defend themselves against the charge. There are many different ways in which an individual may do this. For instance, he or she may use an affirmative defense by claiming that he or she was forced to drive or that driving was a necessary evil. Other affirmative defenses include asserting that an individual was entrapped or became intoxicated without consent.

There are several common defenses that a person may use to cast doubt upon a drunk driving charge. For instance, an individual may claim that the traffic stop that led to the charge was not conducted properly. Furthermore, it may be possible to claim that a blood, breath or another type of test was not performed properly. It is not uncommon for defendants to challenge the results of a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test.

Understanding the meaning of menacing

Sometimes you hear of someone facing criminal charges and you do not understand why. Perhaps you have never heard of the alleged crime or the charges.

Menacing is a charge that you may not understand. Perhaps you have heard of it, but do not really know what exactly it entails. One of the best ways to avoid inadvertently committing a crime is having an idea of how you can face charges. Whether you have a basic knowledge of the crime or not, obtaining some further insight is not a bad idea.

Facts about domestic violence charges in Colorado

It is natural for people who live together as a couple to act out or allow tempers to flare occasionally, particularly when they are experiencing high levels of stress due to jobs, finances and other factors. Arguments that escalate may lead to a domestic disturbance call to the police. In fact, according to the most recent Colorado Springs Police Department Annual Statistical Report, officers responded to over 12,000 domestic disturbance calls.

When one party accuses the other of violence, the situation becomes critical for the one now facing charges.

Are drug courts effective?

When authorities in Colorado charge you with a drug-related crime, you may have concerns about potentially having to pay hefty fines and serve time behind bars, among other potential repercussions. While many of the state’s drug offenders do, in fact, wind up spending time in jail following convictions for drug-related crimes, some non-violent drug offenders are finding that they may be able to avoid jail time by instead enrolling in and completing a state drug court program.

Drug courts, though not yet available everywhere, give some drug offenders an opportunity to treat their addictions, which, in many cases, are the root cause of criminal behavior in the first place. According to the National Institute of Justice, drug courts can have substantial and positive effects on drug offenders who participate in them.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and felony?

When a person commits a crime, the classification of the charge depends on the severity of the crime and the individual's prior run-ins with the law. In general, two categories of charges exist, but within each is a range that helps determine an appropriate sentence.

In Colorado, your arrest may get you a misdemeanor or a felony charge. Knowing the difference between the two and the possible sentences should a judge find you guilty may help set expectations for moving forward through the legal process smoothly.

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