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July 2009 Archives

It is important to keep up to date on changes in the law.

For example, it's been the law in Colorado that if you have a felony drug conviction, including a felony deferred sentence to a drug charge that is reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles, then your driver's license is suspended. This, of course, makes it very difficult to keep working to pay for treatment and court costs while serving a probationary sentence. As of August 5, 2009, that law is changing. H.B. 09-1266 has removed provisions of Colorado law that allowed for the revocation of driver's licenses for criminal mischief offenses, felony drug offenses, and defacing property. The law was signed by the Governor on June 1, 2009. As losing a driver's license will make successfully completing a probationary sentence much harder, this is a great change in the law. On a less positive note for Criminal Defendants, the governor also signed into law on June 1, 2009 H.B. 09-1132. This bill expands conduct that is covered under certain sex offense statutes. The main thrust of the new law is to add text messaging, instant messaging, and communications over telephone networks to the Internet Luring of Children, Internet Sexual Exploitation of Children, and Harassment crimes. Now, any text message that describes explicit sexual contact that is sent to someone the defendant believes to be under 15 together with a statement persuading or inviting the person to meet the defendant for any purpose becomes Internet Luring if the defendant is 4 years or older than the age the defendant believes the person to be. This reflects the expanding sexual offense laws in light of the changing technology. It's not just the internet stings which criminal defendants face for possible prosecution, it can be just a text message to constitute Internet Luring or Internet Sexual Exploitation. This new revision to the law went into place on July 1, 2009 and applies to all offenses committed after that date.

The Seat Belt Law did not pass - A huge win for criminal defense attorneys across the state!

On May 4, the Colorado House Committee on Appropriations voted to indefinitely postpone Senate Bill 09-296, which would have made seatbelt violations in the state a "primary offense". What is a primary offense? A primary offense as it applies to our everyday lives is an offense that police can use to justify stopping your car. The House's actions effectively kill the bill and this curbs Colorado's opportunity to receive between $12 and $14 million dollars in additional federal funding. However, given the federal interest in states passing tougher seatbelt legislation, it is unlikely this is the last time this bill rears its ugly head.

Recently the Colorado Legislature has passed HB 09-1094

This bill changed the law in Colorado for cell phone use while driving. Previously C.R.S. § 42-4-239 only prohibits drivers operating under a driver's permit from using cell phones while driving unless they are contacting a public safety entity, are parked, or during an emergency. Additionally C.R.S. §42-4-239 is classified as a SECONDARY offense and cannot be used as pretext to stop a driver and contact them. The new law (HB 09-1094) goes into effect December 1, 2009 and drastically changed that law.