Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)
In Colorado, a driver is guilty of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) when his ability to mentally or physically (or both) exercise clear judgment and sufficient physical control in the safe operation of his vehicle is severely impacted by his use of drugs. The punishment for a DUID in Colorado is the same as that for DUI or DWAI. The drugs involved in a DUID do not have to be solely illegal ones. Use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs can also affect a driver’s ability to safely operate his vehicle.
When you’re arrested for a DUID in Colorado, you are required to submit a blood or urine test. Even if a blood or urine test revealed the presence of drugs in your system, it does not automatically prove you committed a DUID. Some drugs can remain in your system days or weeks before you got behind the wheel, and unless drugs were found in your vehicle at the time of arrest, proving your guilt will be difficult for the prosecuting attorney.
The arresting officer also makes a written statement about your demeanor at the time of arrest, mistakes observed while you were driving, roadside test performance, any incriminating statements you made and any other relevant information. If you are ever arrested for a DUID, you need a Colorado criminal defense attorney with experience and a proven track record handling DUID cases. This is especially important because there’s a chance that the arresting officer in your case may not be a trained drug recognition expert or drug recognition evaluator (DRE). DREs are police officers who are specially trained to recognize impairment in a driver that is caused by drugs other than alcohol. A Colorado criminal defense attorney can use an officer’s lack of DRE knowledge to discredit his statement or prevent that officer from testifying on matters requiring expertise in drug recognition.
Some Facts About Medical Marijuana
Roughly 10,000 marijuana-related arrest occur annually in the state of Colorado despite having some of the most progressive marijuana laws in the nation. The state passed Amendment 20 in 2000, which legalized using marijuana for medical purposes without the risk of a fine or jail term.
Coloradans suffering from ailments such as HIV, AID, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or any other medical condition characterized by seizures, muscle spasms or nausea can be prescribed medical marijuana to treat their conditions. Patients must register with Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Registry and apply for a medical marijuana registry ID card. Patients must also provide a statement from their physician that states how the use of medical marijuana would benefit the patient. Registered patients, or their caregivers, may possess up to two ounces of medical marijuana and can cultivate no more than 6 marijuana plants for medical purposes.
The registry received approximately 99,559 applications since it began operating in June 2001. seventy-one percent of the applicants were male, and the average applicant age is 40. More than a thousand doctors signed for patients under the registry, and 66 percent of registered patients have a caregiver. Severe pain is the most reported condition, with muscle spasms being the second most reported condition.
Non-medical use and possession of marijuana is against the law in Colorado. Penalties are contingent with the severity of the offense. Fines can range from $100 to $100,000 for possession and $100 to $1,000,000 for cultivation, sale and distribution. Jail terms can range from six months to three years for possession and 2 to 24 years for cultivation, sale and distribution.
Being a first-time offender can be a scary experience, but an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney can make the experience less stressful. Your attorney can advise you of your rights under the law and make sure you are treated fairly. Under Colorado law, first-time offenders may be eligible for diversion programs and/or an alternative sentences that could result in probation and expunging of the charge off of your record once the sentence is completed.
The legal definition of embezzlement is the theft of money and/or property by a person entrusted by another person to handle the money and/or property. It is classified as a white collar crime, and it typically occurs in corporate settings. It is also a crime that is not always as clear cut. A wrongful accusation of embezzlement can occur due to an accounting oversight or error. If you are facing embezzlement charges, a Colorado criminal defense attorney with experience with such cases can advise you of your legal options and help plan the best defense strategy for you.
Being accused of embezzlement can be extremely embarrassing for you and your loved ones. It can also cost you your job and ruin your character and reputation. The penalties for an embezzlement conviction include parole, probation, court-ordered restitution to victims, heavy fines, court-ordered counseling, loss of bonding privileges and jail time. Sentencing for embezzlement may take into consideration mitigating circumstances, community sentiment toward such crimes, degree of media attention and prior convictions if any.
In cases like these, the prosecuting attorney has the burden of proving that you abused your position in order to convert assets belonging to another person into your own. He must also prove that these assets were acquired via your employment with the firm or entity involved; that you manipulated or misappropriated these assets in a fraudulent manner; that you were entrusted by the alleging entity to handle these assets; and you acted with intent to deprive the entity or owner of these assets. Your Colorado defense attorney has the burden of creating reasonable doubt, which could result in reduced charges or acquittal.
Domestic Abuse Charges: The Consequences
The state of Colorado deals harshly with persons who commit domestic violence offenses. If you stand accused, a Colorado criminal defense attorney can explain the domestic violence laws in the state and make sure your rights are protected under those laws. While the criminal consequences of a domestic violence conviction can be severe, there are various civil consequences that can have a serious impact on your life whether you are convicted or not. Some of these consequences include:
- Loss of custody. Many states do not award physical custody to anyone convicted of domestic violence offenses.
- You don’t have the option of mediation. Mediation is not required in most states for family disputes where the presumption of domestic abuse exists.
- Loss of contact. Once a restraining order is issued, you are prohibited from all contact with the alleged victim directly, indirectly or via a third party. You are prohibited from all contact through phone calls, letters, emails, texts or other means of communication, even if the victim initiates the contact. Violation could land you in jail.
- Being separated from your family. A domestic violence charge can result in an order barring you from your home as well as that of any property within your home regardless of whether the property is jointly owned or solely owned by you. Sometimes it can be arranged for you to go to your residence under police supervision to get some of your personal belongings.
- Loss of time with your children. A restraining order can cost you precious time with your children if you are charged with domestic violence offense. Depending on the severity of the charges, you could be prohibited from seeing your children at all or allowed supervised visitation.
- Loss of civil liberties. Domestic violence charges costs you your right to carry or possess a firearm in the state of Colorado.
- Court-ordered anger management treatment. The courts may order you to undergo anger management treatment or drug/alcohol dependency treatment. You may also be required to undergo any other therapy as a condition of maintaining or having more contact with your children.
False Domestic Violence Charges Are a Serious Matter
The state of Colorado has deals harshly with people accused or suspected of domestic violence. Usually an arrest is made at the scene where the alleged domestic violence took place, and the question of whether the charges are true or false are left up to law enforcement and each party’s legal counsel to decide. Time is of the essence when you’re accused of committing domestic violence, even if you are innocent. The longer you delay in getting Colorado attorney representation, the more of an impact false domestic violence charges will have on your life.
When you’re arrested for suspicion of or committing domestic violence in Colorado, you spend a night–or a weekend if the arrest occurs on a Friday–in jail. You or no one else, not even your spouse or significant other, can post bail until you go before a magistrate judge. You will be required to sign a mandatory restraining order to be released. Furthermore, once you’re arrested for domestic violence in Colorado, you get listed for life on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and FBI National Instant Check system. Even if you are found innocent and cleared of all charges, it will take extraordinary steps to have your name removed from this list.
There are many reasons why a person would make false domestic violence accusations knowing fully the potentially damaging ramifications. Such reasons include:
- Retaliation for a wrong
- Mental illness or drug/alcohol intoxication that impairs their recollection of actual events that took place
- To gain leverage in a divorce
- A means to extort money by threatening a legal action
- Out of anger, or to win an argument in a dramatic and public manner
- To get sympathy from others
- To protect herself or himself when police arrive and they make a false accusation out of fear of prosecution
A criminal defense attorney experienced in domestic violence cases will review all information pertaining to your case, particularly checking for any inconsistent statements or actions of your accuser. If your attorney can establish a lack of credibility on the accuser’s side, it can get your charges reduced or even dismissed. Your attorney can also review the events surrounding your arrest to ensure the police actually had probable cause to make the arrest under Colorado’s domestic violence laws.
Why a Case Transfer to Adult Criminal Court May Be Better for a Juvenile Defender
Depending on the events and circumstances surrounding a case involving a juvenile accused or charged with a crime, trying the case in an adult criminal court rather than a Colorado juvenile court could increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome. Only a seasoned Colorado criminal defense attorney with a proven track record with juvenile court cases can best decide which would be the better option for his minor defendant.
A juvenile tried in adult court has the right to a jury, a right he would not have in juvenile court (in most states). Juries in adult court tend to be more sympathetic to a minor defendant. Juvenile cases may be disposed of more quickly and the sentences imposed may be lighter in adult court, especially in jurisdictions where jails and dockets are crowded. Trying a juvenile in adult criminal court, however, is not without serious potential downsides.
A juvenile defendant in adult court is subject to harsher sentences, including life imprisonment. Juvenile court offers a wider range of treatment and punishment options, such as counseling or imposition of a curfew, for juvenile offenders than adult court does. Being convicted as an adult carries more social stigma than being convicted in Colorado juvenile court. It is easier to have a juvenile court record sealed or expunged than it is for adult criminal records. In the state of Colorado, the record of a juvenile charged or convicted as a adult cannot be sealed or expunged.
A Colorado criminal defense attorney will present both the pros and cons of having a juvenile tried in adult criminal court instead of juvenile court, as well as potential outcomes of either scenario. He will advise of the best option for the youth offender while ensuring that his rights are protected through the legal process.
Colorado Juvenile Court: Waivers
A waiver is a process through which a juvenile case is transferred to adult criminal court and the protections provided by Colorado juvenile court is waived. Typically cases that are eligible for waiver are those involving serious crimes or repeat juvenile offenders. While an adult court provides more constitutional protections, it also carries more severe sentences and the possibility of life imprisonment.
In most states a youth must be at least 16 to be eligible for waiver to adult criminal court, in a number of states a minor as young as 13 could be subject to a waiver and a few states allow a youth of any age to tried as an adult for certain serious crimes such as murder. A court may grant a waiver petition and transfer a juvenile case to adult court if:
- the juvenile was charged with a serious crime;
- the juvenile has a long record;
- the juvenile is older; or
- past attempts to rehabilitate the youth have failed.
In Colorado, adult charges can be filed directly against a juvenile in certain situations even if he is younger than 18, or charges can be filed in juvenile court then transferred to the district court where the juvenile is treated as an adult. Charges filed directly can result in a juvenile sentence, a sentence to the Youth Offender System (YOS) or an adult sentence, depending on the nature and severity of the crime. A criminal defense attorney can explain Colorado’s laws regarding juvenile offenders, as well as a youth’s rights under the laws and his legal options.
A waiver petition is usually filed by the prosecuting attorney, however, a juvenile court judge may also initiate transfer proceedings. The youth offender is entitled to a hearing known as a waiver hearing (also called a certification or fitness hearing) as well as legal representation. The prosecuting attorney must be able to show probable cause that the defendant committed the alleged crime. Once probable cause is established, the judge then determines whether the youth defendant could be rehabilitated as a juvenile, taking into consideration the youth’s background, his Colorado juvenile court record and his willingness to undergo treatment in the juvenile system. If the case is transferred to adult court, it is in adult court where the case begins with the formal arraignment of the juvenile.
Colorado Juvenile Justice: What Happens in Juvenile Court
Being charged with a crime as a minor is a scary experience for both the offender and his parents. Not knowing what expect, as well as having very little knowledge of the law as it pertains to juvenile offenders, further adds to the stress. A criminal defense attorney who is experienced with juvenile cases can alleviate a lot of the stress and address many concerns. He can explain the law and make sure the defendant’s rights are protected through the entire legal process.
Minors usually end up in juvenile court when they commit an act that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult; they commit an act that is not a crime unless you are a minor, such as truancy or disobeying a parent, and; they suffer abuse or neglect by a parent(s). A juvenile case usually begins someone deciding what to do with a minor charged with a crime. This someone is usually a juvenile intake officer–usually a probation officer or a prosecutor. The intake officer decides whether to dismiss the matter and release the minor back into the custody of his parents; informally handle the matter; or file formal charges.
If the intake officer decides to handle the matter informally, the minor ends up appearing before a judge or probation officer. He may receive a stern lecture and/or be required to undergo counseling or attend after-school classes. He may also be ordered to make restitution for any damages, pay a fine, perform community service or go on probation.
If the intake officer decides to file formal charges, a petition is filed with juvenile court and the case is placed on the court’s calendar. The minor is formally charged before a juvenile court, whom may take jurisdiction or transfer the case to adult criminal court. If the case stays in juvenile court, the minor enters a plea agreement or faces trial. If the judge concludes that the youth is guilty of the charges, he then imposes a sentence. If the case transfer to adult court, the minor will be required to attend a fitness hearing to determine whether he should be tried as a juvenile instead.
Some potential sentences include:
- court-imposed curfew
- wearing an ankle monitor for a specified length of time
- undergoing psychological evaluation
- serving a specified number of days in juvenile detention
- being ordered to stay away from certain friends or not associate with gangs or other individuals on probation or who are charged with criminal misconduct
- court-ordered counseling or drug/alcohol treatment program
- being ordered to live in a foster or group home, or at a locked facility for specified period of time
Expunging a Colorado Juvenile Record
Expunging a record involves sealing the entire case file, including paper and electronic files. A person will need a court order to access the file. The state of Colorado allows expunging of juvenile records in certain cases, depending on the how much time has lapsed since the final deposition and whether the juvenile committed any further offenses within that time.
A juvenile may be eligible for expungement under the following conditions:
- he was found not guilty of the alleged violation;
- one year has passed since has was ticketed or arrested and no further action was taken;
- four years have passed he was unconditionally released from probation or custody; and
- ten years after being sentenced as a juvenile repeat or mandatory offender.
A juvenile is ineligible for expungement if:
- he was adjudicated as an aggravated or violent offender
- he was sentenced as an adult
- he was adjudicated for certain unlawful sexual behavior
The laws are less strict for juveniles, who can often request expungement sooner than adult offenders. You should consult with a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the expungement process as it pertains to juveniles and who can advise you of the legal options available to you. Your attorney can file a petition with the court. The court will then set a hearing date, during which time a judge will ask questions, hear objections to your request and decide whether or not to grant your request. You should seek expungement of a juvenile record as soon as possible. The sooner a youth’s record is sealed and/or expunged, the less of an impact it will have on his future endeavors such as college, employment and even joining the military and the easier it will for him to put his past mistakes behind him.
Sealing a Colorado Juvenile Record
Sealing a juvenile record prevents it from being seen by anyone outside of the criminal justice system. Law enforcement and the courts can see it, but for anyone else it becomes nonexistent. In the state of Colorado, a youth’s record can be sealed if:
The petitioner was not convicted of a misdemeanor or felony or was not adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent since his release from parole supervision or since the court jurisdiction terminated;
- No criminal charges or proceedings against the petition are pending;
- The petitioner was rehabilitated to the court’s satisfaction; and
- Sealing the record determined to be in the best interest of the petitioner and the community.
A juvenile record cannot be sealed if:
- The petitioner was adjudicated as a violent or aggravated juvenile offender;
- The petitioner was adjudicated for committing an act that constitutes a violent crime had the petitioner been an adult when the crime was committed;
- The petitioner was charged as adult for an offense committed as a juvenile; and
- The petition was adjudicated for unlawful sexual behavior
A defendant is advised of his right to request the court to seal his juvenile record, and the court may initiate such proceedings. The petition for sealing the record must be done at the court where the record is kept. A hearing date is scheduled, and the court notifies the prosecuting attorney and any other parties who have information relevant to the record’s sealing. After the hearing the court orders the records sealed.
A petition to seal a juvenile record can be done once per year and only: 1) if a juvenile was not found guilty of the alleged offense; 2) a year after he completes a diversion program or a year after the date of his contact with police if he was not referred to another agency; 3) four years after court jurisdiction over the youth has terminated, or his release from his commitment to the Colorado’s Human Services Department, or his unconditional release from parole; or 4) ten years after court jurisdiction over the youth terminates or the youth is released from parole, whichever occurs later, if the youth was adjudicated as a repeat or mandatory juvenile offender and committed no further crimes.
Life After Committing a Juvenile Crime in Colorado
Mistakes made by a teen can have a lasting impact on his life as an adult, long after he has learned his lessons. When a teen commits a crime, he may find he will have to explain his actions later in life when he applies for college or employment. A juvenile record is not automatically sealed or expunged once a teen turns 18. Employers, the military and colleges can, and often do, view a youth’s juvenile record.
A youth with military aspirations may find his dreams detoured by a juvenile record. The military can apply its own rules and regulations, which may differ from state law. The military can see a youth’s juvenile record even if it was expunged, and the military requires that a soldier be morally fit to serve in the armed forces. Therefore, the military could refuse to enlist a youth with certain juvenile adjudications on his record.
A youth who has been refused enlistment in the military should immediately request a waiver. A waiver is basically a request for the military to take into consideration the youth’s strengths, improvements and progress he has made since his time in juvenile court, as well as his desire to join the military. The youth requesting the waiver should get recommendations from friends and/or relatives who can attest to his character.
A college can also find out if a youth has a juvenile record. College or trade school applications can contain a question asking if an applicant has been convicted of a crime or was adjudicated delinquent. A youth who was found delinquent by a juvenile court, but not convicted of a crime, can answer no to this question. A youth who was adjudicated delinquent and his record was not expunged must answer yes to the question of whether he was adjudicated delinquent. A adjudicated delinquent youth with an expunged juvenile record can answer no this question.
Unlike the military, a juvenile record may not necessarily hinder a youth’s eligibility for college or other post-secondary program. However, the sooner a youth’s record is expunged, the easier it will be for him to put his past transgressions behind him. An attorney experienced in juvenile crimes can advise you of the steps you can take to have a juvenile record expunged.
Juvenile Curfew Laws
Juvenile curfew laws are laws enacted at the city or county government level that prohibit anyone under 18 from being in public or in a business during certain hours. The hours are typically between 11 PM and 6 AM. The objectives of such laws is to prevent juvenile crime and maintain the general peace.
Almost all curfew jaws identify exemptions or exempted activities under which a juvenile may lawfully be out past the stated curfew. The exceptions vary by jurisdiction, but usually include emergencies; a minor is accompanied by a parent/guardian; a minor is going to and from work; a minor running an errand for an adult or parent/guardian; and a minor attending school or religious event. Violating a curfew is usually punishable with either a fine, detention in juvenile hall or jail, community service or required enrollment in an after-school program. In addition, a parent who knowingly allows their child to violate the curfew may also face fine or other punishment.
The state of Colorado does not has statewide juvenile curfew laws in place, but local city or town curfews are permitted. In Boulder, minors under 16 are not allowed to be out anytime between 11 PM and 5 AM. Exceptions include minors accompanied by a parent or guardian; a half-hour before or after employment hours; going to work; going on an errand for a parent or other adult; returning home from a sporting event, movie or theater; or exercising their First Amendment rights.
In Denver, minors under 18 are prohibited from being out between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM on Sundays through Thursdays and between 12 midnight and 5 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. Violators during the winter months receive a ticket; violators in the summer months are transported to a SafeNite Curfew Program center and held until their parent or guardian picks them up.