1 Frequently Asked Questions for Colorado Springs’ Best Criminal Defense Attorney
Every person accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty, which means the burden is on the prosecutor and the state to prove your guilt. Accordingly, you never have to prove your innocence–you are not required to testify or call witnesses at a trial. If you are charged with a criminal offense, you have the right to: a trial by jury or to the court, a public trial, an attorney or court-appointed attorney if you cannot afford one, remain silent, cross-examine prosecution witnesses, testify (if you so choose), compel witnesses to testify at trial, appeal any conviction to a higher court.
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. If you decide to answer questions, you may change your mind and stop answering them at any time. You have the right to consult with an attorney before answering questions and to have an attorney present when answering questions. If you decide to answer questions or make any statements, the information you provide should be accurate and truthful. You also have the right to reasonable bail, the right to a fair and public trial, the right to be informed of the charges against you, the right to be confronted with the witnesses against you and to gather witnesses of your own, and a number of other rights. Those are your rights, but I advise that you exercise your right to consult an attorney before answering any questions.
The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony depends on the severity of the crime. A misdemeanor is generally a crime where the maximum penalty is up to two years in jail. Conviction of a felony can result in jail or prison time for more than one year and can also result in other serious legal repercussions.
Never enter into a plea bargain until you discuss your case with an attorney. A plea bargain is an admission of guilt to some or all of the charges. While this may allow you to avoid a lengthy trial, the long-term consequences of a conviction on your record may be worse than fighting the charges. Moreover, a plea bargain does not always guarantee a lighter penalty.
In many cases, people have a defense to the crimes they are charged with, which means trial can sometimes result in a better outcome than a plea bargain.
A person may be charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) depending on the results of a blood or breath test at the time of arrest. DUI is a criminal misdemeanor that is charged when a person’s blood alcohol level is at least 0.08. DWAI is also a traffic misdemeanor, but is issued to people with a blood alcohol level between a 0.05 and a 0.08.
A first DUI is punishable by up to one year in jail, a mandatory minimum fine of $600 up to $1,000, a minimum of 48 hours of community service, and alcohol classes. 12 points will also be assessed against your driver’s license by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), resulting in a year –long suspension. The criminal penalties for a first DWAI are less severe but still serious, up to 180 days in jail, a minimum fine of $200 up to $500 in fines, a minimum of 24 hours of useful public service, and alcohol classes. 8 points will be assessed against your license by the DMV.
If you are charged with DUI based on a blood alcohol content (BAC) test of 0.08 or higher, the DMV will start a suspension process against your license. Your license can be suspended from a minimum of 9 months and for as long as 5 years, the length of suspension will usually be dictated by the number of prior DUI arrests.
A suspension can be challenged if you request a DMV hearing within seven days of receiving a notice of suspension. I represent clients in DMV hearings as well as criminal proceedings.
Remember: The criminal proceeding and DMV proceeding are two separate actions against you. A win at one does not necessarily mean you will win at the other.
The length of time it can take to complete your divorce will vary from case to case. Some factors are outside your control, such as the court’s calendar and how quickly hearings can be scheduled and heard. However if both parties agree on all issues, a divorce can be finalized in 91 days from the date of filing for divorce or service on the other party. One of the major factors is how many contested issues are there. The fewer the issues that both parties disagree over, the quicker the divorce can be finalized.
A “no fault” divorce scheme has been adopted by the State of Colorado. This means that it is not necessary (nor, in fact, generally relevant) to prove cruelty, adultery, etc., in order to obtain a divorce. The only ground for a divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
You still have to get a divorce. Common law marriage is recognized in Colorado if you have ever “held yourselves out as husband and wife,” whether on employment forms, tax returns, loan applications, title to property, insurance or in some other way, and you may be considered just as married as if you stood up in front of a judge or clergy person. The divorce process is exactly the same. Colorado recognizes common law marriage, but many states do not.