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What’s On Laurie’s Mind: Answering ‘How Do You Defend Someone You Know is Guilty?’

Aug. 31st 2016
Criminal Defense Is about What Can be Proven, Explains Denver Criminal Defense Lawyer Laurie Schmidt

Criminal Defense Is about What Can be Proven, Explains Denver Attorney Laurie Schmidt

One question I get asked a lot is: How do you defend a person if you know that he/she is guilty?

It’s my humble opinion that this is asking the wrong question. Criminal law is different than any other area of the law because it has the focus always on the prosecutor or government. This dates back to the formation of our country. Back in the time of the tea party days, the British Government would accuse a person of a crime, right or wrong, this person then had the enormous task of proving himself/herself innocent. This led to abuse in prosecuting people to serve the crown and/or political interests. To avoid this, our founding fathers set our criminal law system up to require the government to prove a person’s guilt.

A criminal defense attorney’s job is to ensure that this standard is protected and that the government is not allowed to prosecute without checks and balances. A criminal defense attorney is the check on the government, to make sure the evidence is sufficient for a conviction, to ensure fairness in our system, and to ensure our rights are respected. So, to me, the question is not did he/she do it, but can it be proven.

If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, let’s talk about your defense options. Call me at (303) 747-4686 or email me – Denver Criminal Defense Lawyer Laurie Schmidt – for effective, aggressive defense representation.

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in arrest, DUI Post, Felony, Theft, traffic ticket; | Comments Off on What’s On Laurie’s Mind: Answering ‘How Do You Defend Someone You Know is Guilty?’

5 Must Know Steps After Being Arrested In Colorado

Oct. 20th 2014

Being arrested in Colorado for a crime is a shocking event. Being arrested for a crime can leave bewildered, frustrated, and unsure. Many people have questions such as: What just happened?  What do I do now?  You may even be asking yourself, what did I do?  First thing first, you have been arrested for a criminal offense and there are certain steps that you should take and critical information that you need to know. This post is meant to provide information on the steps to take after contact with law enforcement or an arrest and release by either a citation or posting a bond.

Critical information after being arrested in Colorado for any criminal offense.

1. Consult and retain an attorney
This is not the time to guess and wonder what could potential happen to you.  Take the time to consult with a local criminal defense attorney about the recent arrest. Criminal defense attorneys are familiar with the typical sentence for a variety of crimes, potential defenses that might be available to you, and will be able to explain what you can expect from the court process.

Retaining a criminal defense attorney early gives the attorney a jump start into the allegations and may reveal information that was missed by the police that could be critical in your case.

2. Do not simply plea guilty at the first court appearance
An arrest for a crime is NOT the same thing as guilty of the offense. There are a lot of factors that could contribute to a better plea agreement with the prosecutor or the establishment of a lack of proof in the case that could lead to a dismissal of all of the charges.

There are consequences to pleading guilty to criminal offense that may follow you for longer than the inconvenience of going to court. You must understand potential consequences to the plea, what you are giving up, what you will be required to complete, what the effect is on your future, and the impact of a permanent criminal record prior to entering into any plea agreement.

3. Do not assume the police report contains all relevant or sufficient information
A police report is a summary of how the government will try and prove its case. That is not the sole area of evidence and is only generated once the officer makes an arrest. Often times it is necessary to conduct an investigation as to witnesses NOT interviewed by the police or NOT included in the report that may have the most information that could impact that outcome of the case.

4. Do not assume that you will be found guilty
It is impossible to determine if the government can prove its case against you based on an arrest only and without accessing all of the evidence. A skilled criminal defense attorney will be able to conduct a complete investigation of your case. During this investigation, the government’s evidence will be tested, holes developed, and innocent evidence uncovered.

After the investigation a determination of a likelihood of winning the case can be determined and if necessary plea arrangements can be discussed.

5. Do not pretend that this may go away or will simply be dropped
After and arrest and charges are filed against you, a prosecutor will not drop the case based on your explanation or even the non-participation of the victim in the case. Your case may very well have great mitigation or reasons as to why you are not guilty; this must be presented in the proper time and fashion.

If you or a loved one are arrested or face being arrested in Colorado for criminal charges, contact us today at (303) 747-4686 for a free initial consultation.

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in arrest | Comments Off on 5 Must Know Steps After Being Arrested In Colorado

If You Are Stopped By Police – The Law Student Knows Series

Aug. 29th 2014

If you are stopped by police, you need to know you rights and what you can and cannot do. Try to remain calm during the entire contact with officers. The calmer that you are the more reasonable you actions will be. Be polite to the officers. If you are cussing or screaming at officers you will get arrested. The officers conduct may not be reasonable in the end, but you will have to go through the process of proving the officer acted illegally. Finally KNOW and STATE your rights. Officers are trained to get you to give up information without you even realizing it. Here are four main types of contacts with officers:

Stopped While Walking in Public

If you are stopped while walking or in a public area. You do not have to answer any of the officers questions, nor do you have to consent to a search of your property. You may need to provide an identification to the officers, depending on the reason that the officer contacted you

Stopped While Driving

If you are stopped in your car. If the stop was for any traffic violation you must provide your insurance, registration, and driver’s license. You do not need to provide any additional information, you do not need to answer any questions, or allow the officer to search your car. If the officer threats to go get a warrant, let them. The officer may not have probable cause necessary to get a warrant and is just trying to scare you into allowing the officer to search the car.

Officer Goes to Your Home

If you are contacted at your home. Here, you have a higher degree of privacy. You can tell the officers that they may not enter your home. You can tell the officers that you do not want to talk to the officer. If the officer threats to “go get a warrant,” let them. If there is probable cause to enter your home, it needs to be reviewed by a judge.

Knock and Talk

If an officer leaves a card or calls you to come in for an interview. You are under no obligation to contact the officer. It would be best in this situation to consult with a local Denver criminal defense attorney. You want to ensure that you have an attorney with you prior to contacting the officer. Most times the officer has identified you in a criminal activity and is looking to make the case stronger against you, not try to clear up any misunderstandings.

If you or a loved one have been contacted by law enforcement or are currently being charged with a crime, contact us today at (303) 747-4686.

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in arrest | Comments Off on If You Are Stopped By Police – The Law Student Knows Series

Law enforcement contacts

Aug. 27th 2014

This is part two of the three part series “The Law Student Knows – Now You Know Too.” Law enforcements ability to stop you is limited. An officer can only act within the protections of the Fourth Amendment. It protects you from unreasonable governmental contact, not all contact. To better understand your rights and how to act in certain situations, this post explains the different types of contacts with officers.

There are three basic levels of contact with officers: consensual encounters, detentions, and arrests.

CONSENSUAL ENCOUNTERS

Anytime an officer asks you to do something and you do it that will be considered a consensual encounter. You are agreeing to talk with the officer, let him search you, a backpack, or your car. There are no Fourth Amendment issues with this type of contact because you are agreeing to the contact.

To know if this would be a consensual encounter, listen to what the officer is saying. If he is saying things like “could you please”, “may I have”, or “would you mind” these are all questions. If you say yes then it is consensual. There is an almost programmed response that we must say yes and answer the officers questions. This is not the case. You have a right to say no or not answer the officers questions. If you say no and the officer makes you stay then the contact is elevated to a detention.

DETENTIONS

Detentions are limited in time and scope, meaning that the contact with an officer does not last very long. The officer needs a reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime, have committed a crime, or are about to commit a crime. It has to be something more than a hunch or a gut feeling.

Traffic stops are considered detentions. During a traffic stop for a violation of a traffic law, you must provide proof of insurance, registration and your identification to the officer. That is ALL you have to do. You do not have to tell the officer anything else.

If the officer does have reasonable suspicion to detain you, you more than likely would have to provide identification, if asked. There is no set time for a detention, but generally if it last too long or you are removed from the area, it could turn the contact into an arrest.

ARRESTS

Arrests must be supported by probable cause, this is higher than the standard for a detention. If an officer arrests you and there is no probable cause it is an illegal arrest. Probable cause means that there are facts to support a belief that you committed the crime. This does not mean that you are guilty of the crime, it only means that the police have enough facts or statements (not all facts or statements) to believe that a crime may have been committed.

If you, a friend, or family member need additional information or believe that you have been the victim of illegal police contact or are being accused of a crime, contact us at (303) 747-4686 or click FREE CONSULATION.

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in arrest | Comments Off on Law enforcement contacts

The Law Student Knows – Now You Know Too

Aug. 25th 2014

Recently, there was a video posted about a law student that refused to talk with officers, refused to give him an ID, and refused to allow them to search his person. The law student did one thing correctly – he asserted his right to be free from unreasonable police conduct. This blog will be a three-part series about how the law student was correct. This first series will focus on what the law student did right. The next post will address the different types of contacts that you may have with law enforcement and finally what to do if you are stopped by an officer.

Law Student Disobeyed the Officer. He would not give the officer his name or identification and this was legal for the law student to do. An officer has the right to come up to you and ask you questions, including your name. This is the same as any other person walking down the street. If a stranger came up to you and asked you for identification, would you feel that you needed to give it to them? The same is true in this situation. You do not have to talk with the officers.

Law Student asked if he was suspected of criminal activity. An officer may stop you if he or she believes that you have, are, or had committed a crime. This belief has to be based on a reasonable suspicion. This means the officer must have some facts, other than “I don’t know you” to support a reason for stopping you. In the video, the officer admitted that under the laws of that state, it was not illegal for the law student to possess the gun and the officer could not provide any facts that would support a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Basically, a law enforcement officer cannot just walk up to you because you are doing something that you are legally entitled to do and demand you to show proof that you are legally able as in this case possess a gun.

Another example would be, if you are drinking a beer at a bar, an officer cannot walk up to you and demand to know if you are on probation that would prohibit you from drinking alcohol, such is the case for many DUI convictions. There would be no bases for that question and this conduct by law enforcement is unreasonable and illegal.

Finally, towards the beginning of the video the officer conducted what is commonly called a “Terry Pat Down”. This is quick search of a person to ensure that he or she does not have any weapons on him or her. The courts allow this conduct to protect officers. The search is to be limited to the outer portions, no squeezing areas and only for weapons. The law student correctly told the officers that he would not consent to this search. If the officer has no reasonable belief that the person is a danger and there was nothing that the law student did to support the belief, this is an illegal search.

The officers was trying to get the law student to consent to the search and answering his questions. If you talk to the officer or allow the search the courts will find that the conduct was consensual. If you tell the officer that you do NOT consent to the search or DO NOT want to talk with him, this more than likely is an illegal detention. The next post in this series will talk about the different types of law enforcement contact that you could face.

Video link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAlRDGUx-B8
Next, Part Two of The Law Student Knows – Now You Know Too.

If you need additional information or believe that you have been the victim of illegal police contact or are being accused of a crime, contact us at (303) 747-4686 or click FREE CONSULATION.

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in arrest | Comments Off on The Law Student Knows – Now You Know Too

DUI REFUSAL Should You Take the Test

Jul. 30th 2014

Should you Refuse a Blood or Breath Test and Be Considered a DUI Refusal?

Arguably the most important piece of information in a Colorado DUI case for the prosecution is the blood alcohol content (BAC) or the drug levels. If you are arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs you have three options:

Option 1:       You can consent to test of your blood for alcohol content

Option 2:       You can consent to a test of your breath for alcohol content

**If drug DUI you an consent to the test of the officers choice

Option 3:       You can refuse all tests (this will be called a DUI refusal)

 ** Unlike with alcohol, if you are suspected of DUI of drugs the officer will ask you to take a test of your blood, urine, or saliva. You do not get to choose the test, the officer does.

EFFECT OF A DUI REFUSAL ON DMV

 The Colorado DMV revokes licenses for one year, if the DMV finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the officer had probable cause to request the test and that you refused such a test (often times this is called a DUI refusal). The preponderance of the evidence standard is considerable less that beyond a reasonable doubt. It means more likely or at least 51%.

The DMV has the ability to revoke your licenses because it is an administrative action, not a criminal court action. This means that the DMV action is separate and apart from any potential court case that you may have from a DUI refusal of a blood or breath test.

EFFECT OF A DUI REFUSAL ON YOUR COURT CASE

 A DUI charge is more difficult for the government to prosecute without a BAC or drug level. This is not to say that the case would not go forward with prosecution, it is just a harder case.   According to our laws, if you refused a test then the jury can consider the fact that you refused the test as evidence that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Typically, in these cases the manner of driving and reason for the stop become very important.

I AGREED TO TAKE THE TEST, WHY AM I STILL A DUI REFUSAL

Colorado’s Express Consent Law makes you do two things, if you agree to take the test. First, submit to the test and second corporate in the administration of the test. The following situations can result in the officer accusing you of a DUI refusal:

  1. For alcohol DUI only, you have a right to choose either a blood or breath test. You may not change the test that you selected. If you choose blood you may not switch to a breath test and vice versa.
  2. You must cooperate in the performance of the test.
  3. You do not have a right to talk to an attorney before deciding what, if any, test to take.
  4. For a blood test, you must agree to release of blood to the police officer, if it is drawn at a hospital.

If you, a friend, or family member is accused of DUI or a DUI refusal contact us today for a free case evaluation at (303) 747-4686 or by clicking here.  Don’t assume that you have no defense, don’t pled guilty or listen to the prosecution before you call us.  We will take the time to explain the process an any potential defenses that you may have.

 

 

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in arrest, DUI arrest, DUI laws, DUI Post | Comments Off on DUI REFUSAL Should You Take the Test

Domestic Violence Arrest and Charges in Colorado

Dec. 2nd 2013

Some common defense to domestic violence charges in Colorado

You may think that just because the cops came out and eventually arrested you for a domestic violence related charge that you may not have any defenses available.  After all, the cops came out, took statements, arrested you , and took you to jail.   The cops could not have gotten it wrong, correct?  NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.  As a domestic violence defense attorney – there are many outside factors and investigative issues that will affect who is arrested and potential defenses that may be available.  This post is meant to be an informational guide to domestic violence arrests.  For more information or to review your specific case, please contact us directly at (303) 747-4686.

Not a fair and impartial investigation

Once a person calls 911, the information stated in that call is automatically transmitted to the officer BEFORE they arrive on scene.  So, if someone calls and says that a person assaulted them, the officer hears this information and is already thinking that the other party is at fault, even before they arrive. This means that when the officers say, “I’m just trying to see what happened” or get the full story, it is not true.  The officer is simply trying to build a case against the person he or she thinks is at fault – based on the first information they get.  This is before they talk to any witnesses or parties involved.

Officers often do not understand their role or mistaken belief of the law

Many officers will say that any time, regardless of the facts, if the officer responds to a domestic violence call it requires them to arrest someone. This is completely false and just shows that the officer does not understand the law and/or his or her duty in law enforcement.  Often times, the cops will actually apologize for arresting a person – but try to hide behind a statute and police policy that is not understood.  It does not mean that the prosecution will not file criminal charges against you, it means that you will be arrested, spend time in jail, and have to defend the charges.

Reporting party untruthfulness

A person who called the cops could have made up what happened or minimized his/her involvement in the fight – in order to get the other party in trouble and/or arrested. There could be many different motives for this type of behavior ranging from anger, revenge, to gaining an advantage in a custody hearing.  This is not a reason for the government to drop the case against you- even if the other person does not want to press charges.

Self-Defense

Sometimes a defense to the charges is that you acted in defense of yourself, your property, or another person.  This can be a strong defense to the charges and should not be overlooked by your attorney.  This defense can be used if your conduct was to restrain a party from harming themselves or others.

Report party or victim not desirous of prosecution

Often times, when tempers subside, the alleged victim and/or reporting party may not want criminal charges to be filed against the other person.  Even if this wish or want is communicated to the cops and/or prosecuting attorney- charges would most likely go forward.  Many government attorneys feel that any time a person is arrested for domestic violence, he/she must receive a punishment.

Any arrest or charge of domestic violence can be devastating for you and your family.  This is not the time to try and navigate the criminal justice system.  Your future and reputation can be called into question and may be at risk.  Contact a domestic violence attorney to represent you and fight for your vindication.

Thank you for visiting our post on Domestic Violence Defenses – contact us directly for more information at (303) 747-4686 or by clicking here.

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in arrest, Assault, Domestic violence | Comments Off on Domestic Violence Arrest and Charges in Colorado

Arrested for Denver domestic Violence – vital information you must know

Aug. 22nd 2013

Denver domestic violence- before you do anything; read this!

Here are a list of FOUR IMPORTANT POINTS that you must know after being arrested for Denver domestic violence crime.  After an arrest for Denver Domestic Violence charge, you are probably in shock, scared, and worried.  What will happen to you and your family, will you have to go back to jail?  This post talks about important thing to do after a Denver domestic violence arrest.  See our other blogs for more information on what is domestic violence.  If you have any questions, please contact us directly at (303) 747-4686 or click FREE CASE EVALUATION.

1.  THE OFFICER WAS NOT REQUIRED TO ARREST YOU FOR DENVER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The officers that arrested you probably told you that he/she had to make an arrest according to the law.  Although this is not an untrue statement, it is not a complete statement.  Police officers are siting C.R.S. 18-6-803.6, but that does not sate an arrest must be made if they are called out; it says that an arrest must be made if there is probable cause to believe a crime for Denver domestic violence had occurred.  This may seem like a small difference but it has a big impact.  If an officer has to arrest you –even if the other party does not want to press charges means that you could be arrested without any evidence against you.  Probable cause is a standard that must be followed – there must be enough evidence for the officer to believe a Denver domestic violence crime had occurred.

2.  DO NOT VIOLATE THE TERMS OF THE PROTECTIVE ORDER

The Criminal Protective Order (CPO) in a Denver domestic violence case is a one-way street.  You as the accused are prohibited from contacting the other party.  It is no defense that the other party contacted you fist or that the contact was peaceful.  You are being accused of Denver domestic violence crimes; you must obey the court’s order.  You may return to a shared residence to get clothing and other necessities only.  If you need to do this, you must ask the permission of the court.

If you violate the terms of the Criminal Protective Order during the pending Denver domestic violence case, you could face additional charges, including jail time.

3.  DO NOT OWN/POSSESS ANY FIREARMS

You are required to surrender all firearms and ammunition upon being charged with Denver domestic violence.  Any guns and ammunition do not have to be surrendered to law enforcement; they can be transferred to a third party under very specific conditions.  This must be done within 24 hours of your release on bond and failure to do so could result in class 2 misdemeanor and revocation of the bond, landing you back in jail for the Denver domestic violence crime.

4.  DO CONTACT A DENVER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ATTORNEY

You are being accused of a crime, this is not the time to “go it alone,” hire a Denver domestic violence attorney to represent, fight, and protect your interests.  You will be up against a professional attorney- who wants nothing more that to convict you for a Denver domestic violence crime.

Thank you for visiting our post on what you must know if you are accused of a Denver Domestic Violence crime.  For more information about our firm or free consultation– contact us today (303) 747- 4686.

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in arrest, Domestic violence | Comments Off on Arrested for Denver domestic Violence – vital information you must know

Accused of a Felony in Colorado- important information you must know

Aug. 1st 2013

Felony in Colorado

What happens when you are accused of a felony in Colorado?  Dealing with the criminal justice system can and probably will seem unfair, confusing, frustrating, and overwhelming.  There are various stages and hearings that occur before you even get to trial.  This post maps out the ways a felony in Colorado case proceeds through the system.  Some of the stressful parts of being accused of a felony crime are the unknowns and uncertainties, will I go to jail, can a felony prevent me from getting/keeping a job, what about my family.  Talk with an experienced Colorado criminal attorney today (303) 747-4686.

Felony Charges

The cops catch you doing something or another person makes an accusation against you- accusing you of a crime. The initial bases for the charges of a felony in Colorado are usually found in the police report.  The police officers will work with the DA’s to determine what type of charge should be filed against you. Before charges are filed, the police may try to contact you, to get “your side.”  See more at our post MIRANDA as to why you should not talk with the cops.

Felony Arrest

If you have a felony arrest, you may be taken to jail.   It is possible to have a felony arrest and not spend a day in jail.  Your felony attorney will be able to assist you through this process.  If you are put in jail, you must be brought in front of a judge the next court day.  The purpose of this is to allow a judge to make a cursory look at the charges and set a bail amount.  If you can post the bond, you will be released pending the outcome of the charges, if not, you will remain in custody until the case is resolved.  Here’s some more information on bonds.

Advisements / Arraignment

These are sometimes held at the same time.  If you are accused of a felony in Colorado, you have certain rights that must be explained to you, this is called the Advisement.  At the Arraignment in a felony in Colorado, you are formally read the charges against you and you may enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.  If you enter a not guilty plea, than other future dates are set.

Depending on the class of felony charges that you are accused of or if you are in custody, you may be entitled to a preliminary hearing.  This is a hearing in front of a judge where the government must show that they have enough evidence to continue the case against you. Usually this type of hearing is more informal and the rules of evidence are relaxed, not all felony charges in Colorado qualify for a preliminary hearing.

Pre-Trial Matters

After the preliminary hearing or pleas are entered the case is transferred to District Court for a felony in Colorado.  Prior to the trial, there could be any number of pre-trial motions filed and argued.  For example, if your Miranda Rights were violated there may be a motion to exclude your statements, or if the police illegal searched you or your property, you may need to file a motion to exclude the results of the illegal search.

Trial

Depending on the facts of the case, a felony  in Colorado case can take a day, several weeks, or even months to complete.  During a felony trial, various people will testify and that is how the people present their evidence.  After all of the witnesses are done, the jury then decides the facts of the case.  This is the time where the jury says guilty or not guilty.

For more information on Felony attorneys in Colorado or to talk about you or a loved ones specific case, call us today (303) 747-4686 or click here for a case evaluation.

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in arrest, Felony | Comments Off on Accused of a Felony in Colorado- important information you must know

AS OF JULY 1, 2013, there are new laws to seal records of arrest and conviction

Jul. 23rd 2013

As of July 1, 2013, municipal code convictions and petty offense convictions now qualify for expungement in Colorado. This post looks at the new seal records laws recently passed in Colorado.  For additional information on Expungement and Seal Records or contact us directly at (303) 747-4686.

This means that if you are convicted of a petty offense or municipal code violation, after completing all required programs, payment of all fines, fees, and restitution and no new law violations or arrests within three years after the case is dismissed you now qualify to seal records of arrest and convictions.

Why seal records of municipal or petty offenses

Employment is the overwhelming reason most people want to seal records of arrest and criminal convictions.  Sealing the record means that if you apply for private employment, you could indicate that you had not been convicted of a crime.  The process is a bit different than expungement, which is only available to juvenile adjudication in Colorado.

The stigma of a criminal arrest and conviction is another big reason that people want to seal records of criminal arrests and convictions.  Even if you are arrested or charged with misdemeanor or felony – you may still be eligible to seal records of arrest and court documents. Note DUI convictions can never be sealed.

How to Seal Records of Conviction

You must file a petition in District Court in Colorado to request that the court seal records of arrest and conviction for violations of municipal or petty offense.  Once the court receives all necessary information, the court will take a minimum of thirty- (30) days and usually more to set the hearing.  This gives the district attorney time to review your request and either agree or object.

If the court grants the request to seal records of arrest and conviction – than the record will be sealed.  However, it will always be available to law enforcement and the district attorneys office.

Contact us today to determine if you qualify to seal records of arrest and/or convictions or for additional information on expungement at (303) 747-4686 or by request additional information.

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in arrest, expungement | Comments Off on AS OF JULY 1, 2013, there are new laws to seal records of arrest and conviction