New 2016 Colorado Law Insures Criminal Lawyers If Accused In Municipal Court – Many calls to my firm are from individuals who have panicked and have pled guilty while in custody for a municipal criminal case. A new law compels city courts such as Westminister and Aurora Colorado to immediately appoint public defenders to make certain that does not happen without carefully weighing out the options available – such as posting bond and retaining private counsel.
A new law, Colorado House Bill 16-1309 requires the presence of a public defender at each session of what are called first advisements. These advisements require Colorado Municipal Court Judges to appoint counsel for Defendants being held on municipal charges. Even though this is has been the law for decades under the U.S. Constitution and the Colorado Constitutions, there was a loophole that permitted unrepresented Defendants to make un-counseled decisions to plead WITHOUT having first spoken to a lawyer.
The Municipalities Objected To This New Law
Typically Colorado’s Municipal criminal cases are quickly resolved – usually at the first appearance. The system is set up for quick decisions because Judges do not want “unnecessary delays” in the process. An unnecessary delay for the appointment of a lawyer who would then obtain the City Prosecutors’s file and to then investigate the case before the decision is made to “take a plea,” would be unacceptable in a system that relies on the ignorance and fear of a person who has been incarcerated and who believes they could not withstand another night in jail.
This new law – changes everything and protects the rights of those accused in the Colorado Municipal criminal courts.
Summary Of The New Law
What follows is the Colorado State Legislatures description of the new charge:
At the time of first appearance on a municipal charge, if the defendant is in custody and the charged offense includes a possible sentence of incarceration, the court shall appoint counsel to represent the defendant for purposes of the initial appearance unless, after a full advisement, the defendant makes a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of his or her right to counsel.
If the defendant remains in custody, the appointment of counsel continues until the defendant is released from custody.
If the defendant is released from custody, he or she may apply for court-appointed counsel, and the court shall appoint counsel if the court determines that the defendant is indigent and the charged offense includes a possible sentence of incarceration.
What follows is the actual language of the new law:
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado:
SECTION 1. Legislative declaration. The general assembly hereby finds and declares that the both the United States and Colorado constitutions provide that an accused person has the right to be represented by counsel in criminal prosecutions. This constitutional right has been interpreted to mean that counsel will be provided at government expense for indigent persons in all cases in which incarceration is a possible penalty, unless there is a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary
waiver of the right to counsel.
SECTION 2. In Colorado Revised Statutes, add 13-10-114.5 as follows:
13-10-114.5. Representation by counsel.
(1) AT THE TIME OF FIRST APPEARANCE ON A MUNICIPAL CHARGE, IF THE DEFENDANT IS IN CUSTODY AND THE CHARGED OFFENSE INCLUDES A POSSIBLE SENTENCE OF INCARCERATION, THE COURT SHALL APPOINT COUNSEL TO REPRESENT THE DEFENDANT FOR PURPOSES OF THE INITIAL APPEARANCE UNLESS, AFTER A FULL ADVISEMENT PURSUANT TO C.M.C.R. 210 AND SECTION 16-7-207, C.R.S., THE DEFENDANT MAKES A KNOWING, INTELLIGENT, AND VOLUNTARY WAIVER OF HIS OR HER RIGHT TO COUNSEL.
(2) IF THE DEFENDANT REMAINS IN CUSTODY, THE APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL CONTINUES UNTIL THE DEFENDANT IS RELEASED FROM CUSTODY. IF THE DEFENDANT IS RELEASED FROM CUSTODY, HE OR SHE MAY APPLY FOR COURT-1 APPOINTED COUNSEL, AND THE COURT SHALL APPOINT COUNSEL IF THE COURT DETERMINES THAT THE DEFENDANT IS INDIGENT AND THE CHARGED OFFENSE INCLUDES A POSSIBLE SENTENCE OF INCARCERATION.
SECTION 3. In Colorado Revised Statutes, 16-7-207, add (3) as follows:
16-7-207. Court’s duty to inform on first appearance in court and on pleas of guilty. (3) THIS SECTION APPLIES TO PROSECUTIONS FOR VIOLATIONS OF MUNICIPAL CHARTERS AND PROSECUTIONS FOR VIOLATIONS OF MUNICIPAL ORDINANCES.
SECTION 4. Act subject to petition – effective date. This act takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on the day following the expiration of the ninety-day period after final adjournment of the general assembly (August10, 2016, if adjournment sine die is on May 11, 2016); except that, if a referendum petition is filed pursuant to section 1 (3) of article V of the state constitution against this act or an item, section, or part of this act within such period, then the act, item, section, or part will not take effect unless approved by the people at the general election to be held in November 2016 and, in such case, will take effect on the date of the official declaration of the vote thereon by the governor.
New 2016 Colorado Law Insures Criminal Lawyers If Accused In Municipal Court
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The reader of this article needs to know that Colorado criminal law, like criminal law in every state and at the Federal level, changes constantly. The article appearing above was accurate at the time it was drafted but it cannot account for changes occurring after it was uploaded.
If, after reading this article, you have questions about your case and would like to consider retaining our law firm, we invite you to contact us at the Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm – 303-627-7777.
Never stop fighting – never stop believing in yourself and your right to due process of law. You will not be alone in court, H. Michael at your side every step of the way – advocating for justice and the best possible result in your case.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author at firstname.lastname@example.org – A Denver Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-220-2277. Attorney H. Michael Steinberg is passionate about criminal defense. His extensive knowledge and experience of Colorado Criminal Law gives him the edge you need to properly handle your case.
“A good criminal defense lawyer is someone who devotes themselves to their client’s case from beginning to end, always realizing that this case is the most important thing in that client’s life.”
You should be careful to make a responsible choice in selecting a Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – and we encourage you to “vet” our firm. Over the last 30 plus years – by focusing ONLY on Colorado criminal law – H. Michael has had the necessary time to commit to the task of constantly updating himself on nearly every area of criminal law, to include Colorado criminal law and procedure and trial and courtroom practice. H. Michael works hard to get his clients the best possible results in and out of the courtroom. He has written, and continues to write, extensively on Colorado criminal law and he hopes this article helps you in some small way – New 2016 Colorado Law Insures Criminal Lawyers If Accused In Municipal Court.