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Colorado Springs Legal Issues Blog

How a DUI impacts employment opportunities

Despite the best efforts from various organizations to spread awareness, numerous people around Colorado continue to drink and drive. Look no further than the last Halloween weekend where law enforcement arrested 228 drivers suspected of driving while under the influence. 

DUI conviction can tarnish your record for years to come. While you may worry about jail time and fines at the moment, the truth is that a DUI can follow you for much longer than whatever your jail sentence may be. Perhaps most importantly, it can affect what kind of work you can get going forward. 

Judicial bias may lead to bad decisions

For people facing criminal charges in Colorado, the idea that the judge presiding over the case might be biased can be frightening. Judges are simply people, though, and they bring their biases into the courtroom more than those in the legal profession would like to admit. Indeed, research has shown that a person's belief in his or her objectivity might actually increase the likelihood of a biased outcome. A criminal defense lawyer might be able to overcome judicial or institutional bias on behalf of a client and get a fair trial.

Advances in neuroscience have demonstrated that people are more influenced by the subconscious mind than they are aware. The subconscious often steps in and takes over to make people behave in ways that the conscious mind would not agreed with. There has been research performed in courtroom settings as well, and it indicates that judicial bias can impact the outcome of criminal cases.

Study shows unfairness in community service sentencing

When Colorado residents imagine community service sentencing, they may think of it as a beneficial program that helps people avoid jail time without paying costly fines that they cannot afford. However, one study indicates that community service can further entrench some of the very problems it is touted to alleviate. Most people who are sentenced to community service have low incomes, and they opt for community service because they cannot pay a fine and do not want to deal with extensive court debt that could spark later legal repercussions.

The report highlights the fact that community service sentencing often means that people must work for weeks at a time on a full-time basis without being paid for their labor. They studied 5,000 cases of people ordered to perform community service between 2013 and 2014. The report noted that 8 million hours of community service work were ordered in Los Angeles County during this time period, covering work that could have been done by 4,900 paid employees. It noted that government agencies received 3 million hours of free labor, the equivalent of work for 1,800 paid jobs. Therefore, community service may not only make the person sentenced less available for paid work, but it can also exacerbate unemployment in surrounding communities.

Are sobriety checkpoints legal in Colorado?

Whether hanging out with your buddies near Colorado College or planning a trip to Denver to see your favorite band at the Pepsi Center, you may want to mix some booze with the festivities. If you drive after your blood alcohol concentration climbs above Colorado’s 0.08% legal limit, though, you may find yourself in the middle of a DUI stop

Many law enforcement agencies across the United States use sobriety checkpoints to identify and subsequently jail intoxicated drivers. Given the Centennial State’s fast rate of growth, you may have moved from somewhere where these checkpoints are not legal. Are they legal in Colorado, though? The simple answer is yes. Still, any roadblock should follow some strict guidelines from the Colorado Department of Transportation. 

Arrest rates soar despite falling crime

Police departments in Colorado and around the country are arresting people in record numbers despite plummeting crime rates, according to a recent RAND Corporation study. The violent crime rate in the United States has fallen by almost 50% since 1993, but Americans today are far more likely to be taken into custody by the age of 26 than members of previous generations. Almost one in four Americans born between 1979 and 1988 have at least one arrest on their records. Only 6.4% of those born before 1949 have been taken into custody.

The RAND Corporation study also reveals that young people are often arrested for behavior that many people would not even consider criminal. Almost a third of the women arrested each year and 28% of the men are taken into custody for minor misdemeanor offenses. Arrests for underage drinking are especially common. Alcohol consumption by individuals under 21 accounts for 11% of the women and 16% of the men taken into custody each year.

Understanding theft versus embezzlement

People work hard to obtain their property, assets and funds. Therefore, when another party takes those things away, it is a serious offense.

Criminal charges for theft and embezzlement have some similarities, but they still stand as separate charges. For those facing such accusations, it is important to understand the differences. 

Halloween is not the night to drink and drive

Whether you love to trick-or-treat with your children or plan to attend a party with your friends, you are likely looking forward to October 31. After all, Halloween can be an unbelievable amount of fun for Coloradoans of any age. Still, if you plan to celebrate with beer, wine or cocktails, you should not drive. 

According to the Denver Post, Colorado officers arrested 375 drunk drivers on Halloween in 2017. While law enforcement agencies around the state have not yet announced their plans to step up DUI patrols on Halloween, there is a good chance state, county and local police officers will have a bigger presence on El Paso County roadways on October 31. 

States pass tougher laws on jailhouse informants

Colorado residents want to believe that the U.S. justice system is fair and just, but that isn't always the case. In recent years, new DNA testing technology has exonerated dozens of inmates who were incarcerated based on the false testimony of jailhouse informants. As a result, a number of states are tightening the regulations prosecutors must follow to use informant testimony in court.

Jailhouse informants have always been controversial because they receive a lighter sentence in exchange for their testimony, calling their motives into question. Statistics show this skepticism is warranted. According to the Innocence Project, almost 20% of the 365 inmates exonerated by DNA evidence across the U.S. were convicted in part on the testimony of untruthful informants. To cut down on this sort of behavior, several states have passed laws restricting the use of informants. For instance, in July, Connecticut passed legislation that will keep track of any benefits offered to jailhouse informants for their testimony. The law will also allow the defense to request pretrial hearings on whether an informant's testimony is reliable and admissible. In recent years, Illinois, Nebraska and Texas have also passed tougher laws on the use of informants.

FBI terrorist watchlist ruled unconstitutional by federal judge

Lawyers in Colorado and around the country have been paying close attention to a lawsuit brought by a group of Muslim-Americans against the federal government. The plaintiffs say that they have faced difficulties when traveling and have even been placed in handcuffs because their names have been added to the government's terrorist watch list, and a federal judge ruled on Sept. 4 that they had been denied rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

The ruling provides summary judgement to about two dozen plaintiffs who are backed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The judge will study legal briefs before determining what remedies are appropriate. The case was argued in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The ruling is likely to lead to greater scrutiny of how the Federal Bureau of Investigation curates and maintains the Terrorist Screening Database.

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