Douglas County Sex Crimes Defense Wins Small Victory in Teacher Case
A former teacher and wrestling coach at Mountain Vista High School is facing allegations of sexual assault against a child by a person in a position of power, stemming from a reportedly consensual relationship he had with a 17-year-old female student, and two others who were 18.
Our Castle Rock defense lawyers know that if convicted, the defendant faces up to 12 years in prison. It’s a harsh price to pay, given the facts of the case.
It’s our understanding that the defense in this case did win a small victory in a recent series of motions, when the judge agreed to exclude evidence indicating that the alleged victim purchased the morning-after pill with the teacher’s credit card.
Here’s what we know of the case, as reported by The Castle Rock News Press:
The 33-year-old was taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies last summer, after a five-month investigation reportedly uncovered evidence that he had sex with a 17-year-old female student three years ago.
When the details of that case became public, two other females came forward as well. The teacher reportedly admitted to engaging in sexual relationships with all three of the teens – after they turned 18. Under normal circumstances, that wouldn’t be considered a crime. However, because he was their teacher, he could still face criminal charges. However, he claims the encounters happened after the teens graduated from high school, which would make the actions legal.
Defense attorneys have sought to exclude evidence regarding the two previous relationships, as he was not formally accused of any crime against them, but it could unduly prejudice the jury. The prosecutors, however, won out, arguing that it showed a pattern of abuse of his position.
With regard to the “morning-after” pill being purchased by the alleged 17-year-old victim, the defense attorney argued successfully that, in the first place, the former teacher was known to offer his credit card to many students without question. Secondly, the alleged victim reportedly told him the pill was for her sister and she was accompanied by her then-boyfriend when she got it.
The judge agreed it was prejudicial and tossed it.
The defendant is still slated for trial at the end of July.
Colorado Drug and Gun Crime Convictions Carry Stiff Penalties
Castle Rock drug defense lawyers know that when it comes to these cases, absent solid evidence of innocence, it’s often best to aggressively negotiate a favorable plea deal that will include a focus on treatment, rather than prison.
Not only does this aid the defendant in Castle Rock drug crime cases, society as a whole benefits when people battling the demons of addiction are given the opportunity to change their lives for the better. They are less likely to continue to commit crimes or wind up back in court if they can get clean.
However, prosecutors often view these crimes – particularly sale - through a harsh lens, so arguing this point requires a lawyer with extensive experience in these cases.
In some situations, federal prosecutors will take on the case when they feel they can get a higher sentence than would otherwise be attainable in federal court. That was the case with a 39-year-old out of Colorado Springs, who was found guilty of drug crimes following a four-day jury trial in the U.S. District Court in Denver.
He has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
The case started with a sheriff’s deputy who was patrolling a local hotel parking lot. In the course of this, he discovered that one of the vehicles had license plate tags that were expired. Using the information he obtained with this, the deputy sought information from the hotel clerk, who provided him the motorist’s room number.
The defendant reportedly opened the knock at the door. As soon as he did so, the deputy immediately was struck with the smell of marijuana. The defendant reportedly spoke with deputies for a short time before attempting to run away.
Law enforcement caught up with him a short time later, hiding under a vehicle. On his person, he was carrying more than $1,200 in cash and a knife, which was strapped to his wrist.
A number of females had been in the room with the defendant also. It was determined that they had been reportedly using drugs with the defendant. Also inside the room, deputies reportedly found a digital scale, drugs, paraphernalia another $1,300 in cash and a gun.
He was ultimately convicted of one count each of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and unlawful possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
Allegations of Crimes Against Elderly in Castle Rock Require Strong Defense
Our Castle Rock criminal defense lawyers know that according to Colorado Criminal code 18-6.5:01 and 18-6.503, crimes against the elderly (known formally under the law as an “at-risk adult”), the penalties are increased.
For example, if you commit a theft under $500, that’s generally going to be considered a Class 2 misdemeanor. That means it’s punishable by between three to six months in jail, and a fine somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 to $1,000.
Now, let’s say you commit that same theft against a person who is elderly, or an “at-risk adult.” The crime then becomes a Class 5 felony, which means it is then punishable by between 1 to 3 years in prison, followed by two years of parole and a maximum fine of $100,000.
And our criminal defense attorneys expect we’ll be seeing a significant spike in these kind of cases, given that the older population is rapidly expanding in our area and that a number of police agencies are dedicating special units to addressing these crimes.
According to Douglas County Sheriff’s spokesman Bill Sparman, Douglas county has, over the last decade, become the second fastest-growing place in the country for residents who are over the age of 65, percentage wise.
Why is this?
Partly because people who move here stay here, and also because many residents are moving here to retire. Also, due to the economy, many older residents are moving in with their children to save money.
Throughout the country, there are nearly 80 million baby boomers, and all are approaching older age. What’s more, these individuals typically had fewer children, on average, than Americans did a generation before them. That means that there is a smaller support system available, which means a greater opportunity to perpetuate certain crimes, as less people are watching.
However, the hope from a law enforcement standpoint is that the harsher penalties will reduce the temptation.
That means if you’re accused of a crime against an older or at-risk adult, you’re going to need a criminal defense lawyer who is ready to fight aggressively to have the charges reduced or dropped.
Castle Rock Theft Charges Stem From Foreclosure Case
However, our Castle Rock criminal defense lawyers expect we may seeing more of these types of cases, as the implosion of the housing market has left many people underwater and foreclosed upon.
This was a case in which an individual who once owned a home in the Bell Mountain Ranch subdivision was not only forced out, but was also arrested on charges of theft, burglary, criminal trespass and violation of bond.
It all started back in November of last year. The man had lived in the home with his family for some time prior to that. The residence, which is 4,000-square feet and was at one time listed for a sale price approaching $2 million, was reportedly foreclosed upon by the bank.
The bank had been trying to get him out of the home for some time, while the homeowners’ association wanted him to remove a large trailer that was parked out front. The bank also sent notice to the homeowners’ association, saying it was having difficulty forcing the man to leave.
When police first made contact with the man, he told them it was the bank who should be facing criminal charges. He refused to leave. He further claimed that he was taking possession of the home through a civil process called adverse possession. He produced these documents to the deputy who had responded to investigate. These records showed that the man was claiming ownership of the home, through a business he had established back in August.
The problem was, this title actually had no legitimate, legal standing.
Ultimately, an eviction notice was filed back in March, ordering him and his family to leave the four-bedroom, five-bathroom house. However, when he still wouldn’t leave, deputies removed him by force and charged him criminally.
The home is now back on the market for about $700,000.
Although this is not the standard white-collar crime, that’s what it’s going to amount to in court, as his criminal defense is going to rely a great deal on real estate and foreclosure law.
Castle Rock Law Enforcement More Knowledgeable About Identity Theft
Castle Rock criminal defense lawyers want you to be aware that local law enforcement has boosted its training with regard to identity theft.
It’s likely that there are going to be more arrests in the coming months and years for incidents of fraud, forgery, mail fraud, identity theft and other similar felony offenses .
In fact, more than 50 law enforcement officers from more than 21 local, state and federal investigatory agencies were invited to a free, eight-hour class that was hosted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and LifeLock late last month.
In the Denver metro area, the Federal Trade Commission reported more than 2,400 complaints of identity theft last year. In actuality, the incidents are probably much higher, as that figure reflects only those cases that have been reported.
The seminar was hosted as an effort to school law enforcement officers on new methods of identity theft, how to recognize it and how to track down suspects.
One example of state law that covers identity theft is Colorado Revised Code 13-21-109. This statute allows for criminal penalties, as well as civil remedies, up to $10,000.
And of course, if you are convicted of an actual theft, you are looking at penalties associated with the value of what you took. So for example, if the property or cash value you allegedly stole is less than $500, it’s considered a Class 2 misdemeanor. That is punishable by up to a year in jail. But let’s say the value is more than $500, but still less than $1,000. That is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, and it’s punishable by up to 18 months behind bars. If it’s between $1,000 and $20,000, it’s a Class 4 felony, and you’ll be looking at a prison sentence of between two and six years. Anything above $20,000 is going to garner a prison sentence of between 4 and 12 years.
When it comes to cases of identity theft, we can expect that the punishment is going to be on the heavier end of the spectrum because the money can be so easy to make.
Substance Abuse Leads to Felony Charges in Damage of $30M Painting
There are just some cases that Castle Rock felony defense lawyers have no doubt involves some issue of mental illness, substance abuse – or both.
While mental illness is not accepted in our society the same way as say, cancer, we are slowly coming around and our judicial system is beginning to reflect that.
Such was the case for a woman accused of felony criminal mischief after damaging a $30 million painting at a brand new museum in Denver.
The painting, a zig-zagging of red, black, white and yellow lines created by expressionist artist Clyfford Still, was reportedly damaged when a 37-year-old woman reportedly scratched, punched, leaned on and then slid her bare buttocks down the painting. She also reportedly urinated on herself, but the urine did not end up on the painting itself, police say.
That incident reportedly happened just weeks after officials dropped pending charges of armed robbery that had been filed against her. She did have a 2008 conviction for DUI.
The museum, dedicated solely to Still’s work, had been open less than two months when the incident occurred. The artist, whose work has often been compared to Jackson Pollock, passed away in 1980. Four of his works were sold for almost $115 million last year.
So this act, had it been inflicted on almost anything else, might have been considered minor vandalism. In this case, however, she reportedly caused an estimated $10,000 in damage to the oil-on-canvas piece.
That was why the woman was charged with a felony.
Though she could have served time behind bars for her offense, the judge instead opted to require that she serve two years of probation, during which time she is mandated to receive treatment for mental illness and alcohol dependency. She may also be required to pay some form of restitution.
The judge obviously felt her actions were egregious enough to warrant some form of punishment. But he was right in ordering leniency, coupled with treatment.
Numerous studies have shown that simply tossing people behind bars without any attempt to actually treat the underlying causes is likely to result in them simply returning in handcuffs – often for even worse offenses.
Having an experienced attorney by your side to help argue for treatment can be an important key to starting your road to recovery.
Castle Rock Drug Crime Defense: Keeping it in the Family
Castle Rock drug crimes have been known in some cases to involve family members.
Felony defense attorneys assume the idea is that you need people around you that you can trust. But when it falls apart, entire families can be destroyed.
That appears to be the case by two large drug trafficking rings that were recently brought down by federal agents in Denver. One was run by a brother, the other by his sister, and prosecutors say the operations were responsible for transporting money and methamphetamine to Colorado from California.
So far, nearly two dozen people have been indicted by a grand jury. Of those, 20 were arrested in a single day in Colorado, Iowa, Utah and California.
Agents indicate that in addition to the arrests, they reportedly recovered more than $700,000 in cash, as well as an excess of six pounds of methamphetamine.
The investigation, dubbed “Dark Angel,” involved agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, The Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
These are not cases that you can rely on a government-appointed defender. Drug trafficking on this scale can result in decades behind bars in federal detention facilities – not to mention deportation.
The drugs were reportedly being taken across state lines in organic milk jugs. In one instance, it is reported that traffickers used a child to strap money to his body, in the hopes that he would go undetected.
The two siblings who headed the separate operations were reportedly using a California-based trucking company as a cover. Some of the drivers, however, were innocent, according to agents, and had no idea they were moving large quantities of drugs and money.
Agents suspect that although the drugs were transported from California, they were actually made in Mexico. The brother-and-sister duo were arrested in California.
It was actually a lead from the Denver Police Department that got the case kick-started, according to The Denver Post. The newspaper doesn’t indicate exactly what that lead was, but it is common in organized crime circles for police to squeeze lower-tiered offenders, in the hopes they will give up names and information about those higher up in the operation.
In these cases, even when two family members are involved, it’s important to have two separate attorneys to represent them, to ensure there are no conflicting interests.
Bath Salts Behind Growing Number of Castle Rock Crimes
Castle Rock criminal defense attorneys have noticed a marked increase in the number of cases involving so-called “bath salts.”
Contrary to the moniker, it’s not the fizzy stuff you toss in the tub. We’re talking about a group of synthetic compounds create symptoms similar to cocaine, PCP and LSD, but with higher-than-usual levels of paranoia and violence.
Following a federal emergency ban issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration last year and passage of a statewide bill earlier this year, possession of bath salts is a misdemeanor, while the sale is going to result in a the need for a felony defense.
The drugs are known to cause an elevated heart rate and blood pressure. They also routinely cause agitation, though in cases that are more severe, there have been reports of hallucinations and bizarre violence.
For example, in Miami, the man who allegedly was shot by police who found him literally biting the flesh off another man’s face – he was reportedly on bath salts, though the final word is awaiting autopsy results. That prompted the Centers for Disease Control to issue a warning, indicating that there was, in fact, no zombie apocalypse that officials there were aware of.
Most recently, the drug snatched headlines after the death of 19-year-old from Grand Junction. He had reportedly been acting violently. He was strangled by a friend who tried to subdue him. Investigators are working to determine whether there was a crime committed or whether the homicide was committed in self-defense. No arrests have been made at this point.
Officials at the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center have reported nearly a dozen poisonings this year from bath salts. In 2011, there were a total of 44 cases reported.
The state’s Department of Public Health and Environment said they haven’t been able to tabulate whether other deaths or violent acts are attributable to the bath salts drugs because they are so new.
Particularly given the violent nature of some of the incidents connected to these drugs, it’s likely that both federal and state authorities could push for extended bans and harsher sanctions for both possession and sale.