Do I need a lawyer? Can’t I just speak to the District Attorney myself?
The criminal justice system is complicated and often times confusing. Having an experienced attorney to guide you through the process can ease some of these concerns. Speaking to a prosecutor on your own could end up hurting you more than helping you. For example, a District Attorney is not going to point out the weaknesses in their case. Prosecutors know the law. In fact, they are law enforcement officers. If you choose to speak to a prosecutor, you may inadvertently make a statement that you think will help your case, only to find out that they are going to use it against you. Having an attorney on your side levels the playing field. We are able to use our knowledge of the law to do what is in your best interest. If you needed surgery, you wouldn’t operate on yourself. You would go to a doctor. Similarly, if you are charged with a crime, you should hire a lawyer.
I am being investigated for a crime and the police want to talk to me to get my side of the story. Do have to speak to them? Is it a good idea to do so?
Our experience has taught us that it is always in your best interest to request and consult with an attorney prior to makingany statements to law enforcement. You have a right under both the United States and Colorado Constitutions to refuse to speak with law enforcement. Also, if you are suspected of breaking the law, it is never a good idea to try to explain yourself to an officer. Law enforcement is specifically trained to do anything they can to attain a statement from a “suspect”, because a person’s own statements are often the most damaging evidence against them in court. Unfortunately, the law has evolved to allow police officers to intentionally deceive an individual during a person’s “interview” with law enforcement. A completely innocent person can say something under these circumstances that causes a jury to find them guilty of a crime they did not commit.
Are there consequences to being convicted of domestic violence beyond a possible jail sentence, required classes, costs and fines?
Domestic violence convictions can have the greatest potential impact on a person’s life beyond the courtroom. According to federal law, if a person is convicted of an act that is classified as “domestic violence”, you lose your 2nd Amendment right to possess a gun forever. This applies to infractions as minor as phone harassment or property damage. If you are in a career that requires you to carry a gun, such as law enforcement or the military, you will most likely lose that job. Participation in family hunting trips will be only a memory. In addition, a domestic violence conviction can be used against you if you are in a divorce proceeding and are seeking an expansion of your parenting time.
Does a person ever get sentenced to jail or prison for a 1st offense?
The answer depends on the circumstances and the charges against a person. There are certain felonies that require a mandatory prison sentence if convicted. The most common example of this is a charge of felony 2nd degree assault. Often people involved in a bar fight are charged with this crime if someone breaks a bone or someone gets hit with a beer bottle. If convicted of 2nd degree assault, a court has no option but to sentence a person to at least five years in prison despite a person having no prior criminal record. Even the lowest level misdemeanor in Colorado carries the potential of up to 6 months in the county jail. A competent attorney can help you reduce your exposure to incarceration time and advocate for alternate sentences such as probation, house arrest, or work release.
Why should I request a jury trial?
The primary difference between a court trial and a jury trial is who decides the issues of fact. At a court trial, a single judge will make the final decision regarding whether you are found guilty or not guilty. At a jury trial, a group of people who live in the jurisdiction where you are charged will make this determination. The jury selection process happens right before the beginning of the trial, and your attorney has an opportunity to ask questions of the potential jurors to see if they can be fair to you. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, there will be six people on the jury. If the charges include a felony, there will be twelve people on the jury. We have represented clients in numerous jury trials and have the necessary experience when it comes to jury selection.