What To Do When You Are On Trial For a Crime in Colorado | CourtRecords.org
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What To Do If You Are On Trial For A Crime In Colorado?

In Colorado, the state criminal code categorizes crimes into misdemeanors and felonies. The incidence of a crime often precedes the arrest and charging of the alleged offender. Usually, investigations and grounds of probable cause result in an arrest warrant being issued. Most misdemeanors have charges filed by the arresting officer or presiding judge. Felony offenders are often giving a verbal notice of the charges at the point of arrest. However, it is not official. The official notification of filed charges happens in the presence of a jury. It entails advisement and arraignment. When the prosecutor charges a person for a crime, the prosecuting counsel offers him or her the option to make a plea bargain. If the defendant pleads guilty, the process skips the trial stage on to the sentencing hearing, usually the outcome of negotiations for leniency. It is important to note that the sentence may or may not differ from the prosecutor’s proposal. If a defendant pleads otherwise, the case proceeds to the pretrial stage, and the judge sets a date for the next court appearance.

What Percentage Of Criminal Cases Go To Trial In Colorado?

The Colorado judicial branch does not provide statistics on how many criminal cases go to trial in the state. However, 22% of the caseload across state courts are criminal cases, according to the 2018 update. There is an opportunity for pretrial negotiations in the criminal justice process of Colorado. Here the defendant can offer a plea bargain to negotiate a murder sentence. Also, evidence of wrong arrests and or improper charges becomes plain enough to warrant the dismissal of the charges against the arrested individual. For this reason, many cases do not proceed to a full trial in the state.

When Does A Criminal Defendant Have The Right To A Trial?

According to federal laws, all criminal defendants may request a public trial to promote fairness in hearing and transparency of legal processes to the public. Colorado state laws are subject to federal statutes. Be it a bench or a jury trial, it must proceed six months from the date the defendant gets a notification of charges. It applies to County and District Courts. Municipal Courts in Colorado adopt a three months pretrial window period. Unless there is good cause for extension or the defendant files a plea for more time, a violation of this status can lead to a prejudiced dismissal of charges.

What Are The Stages Of A Criminal Trial In Colorado?

Below is a stepwise process of a criminal trial in a Colorado State Court:

  • Pretrial motions
  • Jury selection
  • Presentation of the case by the District Attorney (D. A.)
  • Response by the defense attorney
  • Submission of evidence by the D. A.
  • Calling of witnesses and crime experts
  • Determination of guilt
  • Sentencing

The judge schedules a separate hearing for sentencing if the defendant is guilty.

How Long Does It Take For A Case To Go To Trial In Colorado?

The Colorado speedy trial statute imposes a maximum of six months from the date the state charges the defendant. More severe cases requiring more detailed investigation may take longer on the grounds of a good cause. The rule also applies to circumstances with multiple adjacent issues, such as interstate involvement or a syndicate.

What Happens When A Court Case Goes To Trial In Colorado?

In Colorado, an arrest starts the process of a criminal case in the legal system. Other events occur in a stepwise manner:

  • Booking: the arresting officer takes the arrestee into custody and books them on criminal charges. Here, collecting personally identifying information, full-body search, fingerprinting, and mugshots make up the booking process.
  • The posting of bail, if granted: all arrested persons should go into custody by default. However, the option of bail depends on several factors such as the severity of the crime, the safety of the community, the financial capacity of the arrestee, employment status, and how many ties to the community the individual has.
  • An indictment: Here, the D. A. prepares a written document that states the arrestee as having committed a crime by the relevant laws
  • An advisement/arraignment: a court hearing that officially notifies the defendant of the charges
  • Preliminary hearing: this hearing tests the credibility of the state’s case against the defendant
  • Pretrial conference: a court appearance that hears pretrial motions and manages negotiations of plea bargains
  • Motions: may submit a motion to suppress evidence or dismiss charges
  • Disposition hearings: apply to plea bargains. The court decides whether to accept it or proceed to a full trial.
  • Jury trial: the case goes through a full-fledged public trial where the judge gets to settle with the jurors’ help if the defendant is guilty of the charges. The goal of the D. A. is to get a conviction.
  • Sentencing: whatever the jury trial verdict is, the judge schedules a hearing to issue the sentence. To this, post-trial motions, such as appeals, can proceed.

Can You Be Put On Trial Twice For The Same Crime In Colorado?

No. The 5th amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not permit an individual’s trial twice for the same crime. Another name for it is the “double jeopardy clause,” which most states, including Colorado, have adopted.

How Do I Look Up A Criminal Court Case In Colorado?

Members of the public can assess criminal court cases only at the courthouse with current jurisdiction on the case. County, Municipal, and District courts are trial courts with jurisdiction over criminal court cases. There is no central database on the Colorado Judicial Branch from which inquirers can access records. Instead, the judicial site redirects all requests to the local courthouse that filed the case. Note that the court record custodian may not disclose ongoing criminal cases to every member of the public. One reason is that the legal system’s commitment to a fair hearing takes precedence over public knowledge at any point in time. However, case information may be available upon request. Also, note that court case information regarding victims or juveniles will not be available for public access. Only persons eligible will access this information. Eligible persons include the involved parties, their representing attorneys on the case, and all allowed court or state executive staff. Anyone else will require a court or executive order to get criminal record information.

How To Access Electronic Court Records In Colorado?

Remotely accessible court records are not available either at the Colorado court system’s central judicial branch or at the individual court premises. There are third-party websites that allow interested individuals to search for a real-time register of actions by providing online access through court records in the state. To get copies, visit the local courthouse of current jurisdiction on the case to request them.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile.
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I Remove Public Court Records In Colorado?

In Colorado, records can become invisible to the public by sealing or expunging them. The implications for sealing or expunction are essentially the same, except that the process is different. While sealing renders a record invisible to the public, it remains accessible to law enforcement agencies and court authorities. The expunction of a record represents the destruction of the records from the legal system. Juvenile cases and underage driving offenses often qualify for an expunction. Lower-grade felonies and misdemeanors also qualify for sealing, provided the court closed the case. Closure here means that the sentence is complete, and the convict has fulfilled all the requirements by law. It also means that the individual does not have any pending case or is a suspect in an investigation.

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