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June 2009 Archives

I, like many of you, frequently read the Denver Post

Lately, I have been seeing a lot of articles on Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges. I'm sure you have noticed them as well. However, without being the criminal justice system day in and day out, like a criminal defense attorney, one may not understand the far reaching implications of these articles. These articles are both harsh and unfair. The harshly characterize people charges with DUI as career criminals with little to no regard for human life. They are unfair because they lump everyone that gets a DUI or even multiple DUI's into the same category. Anyone who spends anytime with a large number of people charged with DUI's quickly learns that they cannot all simply be placed into any category. People charged with DUI come from all walks of life and have a myriad of issues that have brought them to be charged. In some cases, people are charged with a DUI unjustly.

Protection orders can have a profound effect on more than the restrained party

Criminal protection orders are issued automatically in criminal cases pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-1-1001. This protection order prevents a criminal defendant from harassing, molesting, intimidating, retaliating against, or tampering with any witness to or victim of the acts charged. A violation of this protection order is a new class 1 misdemeanor. District attorney's offices charge this quite often as it is oftentimes an easier charge to prove than the offense with which a criminal defendant was originally charged. In domestic violence cases, it is also standard practice to put a strict no contact order in place with the victim, whether that is a girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife. If a defendant's children were present for any of the alleged acts, quite often the protection order will prevent contact with the defendant's children as well. This protection order prevents contact from a criminal defendant even from the jail. If you call the victim from the jail, this is a new misdemeanor charge that can be filed against you. Until the Court allows a modification of this condition of bond, there must be NO CONTACT whatsoever-by phone, in person, by mail, by email, by text, or through third parties.

You were just pulled over and given a speeding ticket in Colorado

You were just pulled over and given a speeding ticket in Colorado. You are frustrated and want to know what your options are in trying to decide whether to fight the ticket. As in so many instances "the devil is in the details" and every case and courthouse is completely different as to how they handle traffic matters. A consideration that most people do not understand is that in Colorado speeding tickets are generally divided into two distinct categories. The first category is a "Traffic Infraction" which is considered civil in nature. This category is generally reserved for those speeding tickets which are do not exceed 24 miles per hour over the speed limit. These infractions are different in that the State of Colorado has specifically created rules that only apply to "infractions" because of their noncriminal nature. As I mentioned before, the devil is in the details. These rules can often determine what sort of outcome can be negotiated and also provide for a much different process if you decide to fight your ticket at a hearing (a.k.a. trial). The way these infractions are treated at court also depend upon the courthouse. For example, a four point traffic infraction issued in the Denver Courts may be treated differently than a four point traffic infraction issued in the Gunnison County Court. The second category that speeding tickets fall into is a "Traffic Offense." As far as speeding tickets are concerned these are for those tickets which are given for speeds greater than 25 miles per hour. Traffic offenses are considered "criminal" in nature and are subject to different rules and procedures compared to "traffic infractions." The possible penalties are also different than "traffic infractions."Whether you have a "traffic infraction" or a "traffic offense" the process can be very confusing. Bottom line, if you find yourself charged with speeding an attorney is a quick call away. Be fully advised as to your options and be ready to defend your license.

Ward Churchill v. The University of Colorado

Recently in the news there has been a lot of coverage on the case of Ward Churchill v. The University of Colorado. As an alumnus of the University of Boulder, I, like many, have been glued to the television, and internet to gain as much information about the case as possible. As an attorney, I also have a strong view of the case. I attended the CU during the time period that Ward Churchill was a professor, wrote his controversial essay on 9/11, and graduated prior to the final decision to terminate his employment. I remember strong sentiment for and against Mr. Churchill on campus during my time there. What strikes me now is how I am able to separate myself from the emotion of the moment and look at the case purely from a legal standpoint. This case was not about Mr. Churchill's views or writings, but more about whether as Americans we have the right to have such views and write such things. The jury ultimately decided that, yes, we do have the right to say such things, especially in public organizations such as State Universities.