By Staff Attorney
By The Gasper Law Group
If police recently arrested you for marijuana DUI, or your daughter called from a jail cell after being stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you’re likely feeling overwhelmed and scared. At the same time, you might also be curious about how Colorado’s recent legalization of cannabis has affected DUI rates and police enforcement attitudes.
The discussion below explores an overview of the changes.
Fewer Pot Arrests
Ever since Colorado’s landmark legislation allowed adults to possess, cultivate and privately use marijuana, unsurprisingly, there have been fewer cannabis-related arrests. Colorado state data show a dramatic decline in possession charges from 30,000 in 2010 to below 2,500 in 2014. In addition, an analysis of National Incident Based Reporting System data found a 41 percent reduction in all drug arrests during the past two years.
Police Shift Stance on Cannabis
A Police One poll reveals evolving attitudes among law enforcement officials as well. In 2009, 64 percent of police opposed legislation legalizing pot. A recent poll shows that stance softening somewhat; today only 56 percent of law enforcement in the state think the law was a bad idea. Police do remain divided on the issue, but more and more officers now view cannabis in a nuanced light. Continue reading →
By Caryn J. Adams
Partner and Attorney
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC
I often tell those who come to see me that a good criminal defense attorney plays two principal roles. On the one hand, a defense attorney does in court everything that you would expect a defense attorney to do: negotiate with the district attorney, argue your case to the jury, present you in the best light possible to the judge, file applicable legal motions (to suppress evidence, to preserve evidence, to reconsider a judicial ruling, etc). This is usually how people think of attorneys, and it’s often how attorneys think of themselves. When attorneys get together, the conversation often turns to the last trial won or last motion successfully argued in court. However, the courtroom is only half the job.
A good defense attorney plays a different role in the privacy of the conference room or the office when talking with her client. Outside of the court room, a good defense attorney is responsible for providing all of the information to a client required for a client to make a good decision about his own family and life. Criminal defense attorneys know that each person comes to the table with different priorities. A younger person accused with a crime might be more worried about keeping his record as clean as possible, so as not to lose out on any employment or educational opportunities down the road. A retiree accused with a crime might be more focused on mitigating the punishment, worried about how his health will affect his ability to perform community service or how his lack of employment might limit the jail alternatives available to him. Some folks need the ability to move or work out of state as soon as possible. Others are worried about being asked to leave their military careers, college campuses, or places of employment. In any case, it’s the attorney’s job to listen to and understand those needs and talk about the criminal case in the context of how the client’s goals can be met (or not). Continue reading →
Several times in the past few months, I’ve talked with people, both clients and other acquaintances, with some odd misconceptions of what it’s like to serve a short jail sentence. And here, I’m talking about nothing more severe than a month or two in the county jail. Prison, of course, is a complete different creature. Some of the questions about jail were born of fear. Some were born of idle curiosity.
Now, a little disclaimer: For all that I’ve been inside the local jails in El Paso, Teller, Douglas, and Pueblo Counties many, many times, I’ve never actually served a jail sentence. Sure, I’ve been visiting when an emergency within the jail has kept me locked up an hour or two more than I expected, but I never had any doubt that the deputies would release me, eventually. I’ve never spent a night in a jail bunk, rather than my own bed.
In writing this blog, I called the jail and asked if someone could direct me to a FAQ sheet. Apparently, there wasn’t one of the kind I was seeking. However, Sgt. Gregory White, a Public Information Officer with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office was kind enough to answer some basic questions about the Criminal Justice Center, our local jail. His answers to the following questions I can confirm through my own second-hand experience: Continue reading →
Drug Cases: Different Rules for Sealing
To every rule, there is an exception. To the rule that no conviction may be sealed, the exception is criminal conviction records for some offenses involving controlled substances. Pursuant to C.R.S. 24-72-308.5, as of July 1, 2008, a person may petition the court to seal the conviction records for drug offenses at the petty, misdemeanor, or class 5 or 6 felony level. There are, as you might expect, several conditions to be met:
1) The petition has to be filed no sooner than ten years after the final disposition or end of probation, whichever is later; and
2) The petitioner cannot have been charged or convicted for any criminal offense in the intervening ten years; and
3) For convictions entered before July 1, 2008, the district attorney must consent to the sealing of the records. Continue reading →
“You are under arrest for assault … you have the right to remain silent … “
So what exactly are they saying you did? I mean, all you really did was defend your honor in the bar when someone else said something to your girl, right?
Well, assault in Colorado comes in different degrees, but always represents some form of threats of physical harm, attempts to cause physical harm, and offenses actually causing bodily harm. If you use a “deadly weapon” during the assault, you’ll be facing felony-level charges, even if that deadly weapon is a bottle, or a piece of wood, or your own hands.
The penalties can be quite harsh.
Third Degree Assault is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, and it is also considered an “Extraordinary Risk Crime”; a defendant can face incarceration of up to two (2) years. If the victim of the misdemeanor assault is pregnant at the time of the assault, and if you know she’s pregnant, then you’re facing a mandatory six (6) month jail sentence. Continue reading →
“You are under arrest for Domestic Violence … you have the right to remain silent … “
By The Gasper Law Group, PLLC, Criminal Division Staff
“Domestic violence” in Colorado is defined as “an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship”. ‘Domestic violence’ also includes any other crime against a person, or against property, including an animal … when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.”
It’s true … you may not even have struck your spouse or girlfriend. All you did was put a hole in your own wall while busting up your hand in the process. Domestic Violence! Oh, and these crimes carry with them some pretty severe punishments. If you are convicted, your conviction may be posted on public databases for the rest of your life. No problem, you can just have your record sealed, right? Ah, not so fast. Currently, Colorado law prohibits the sealing of any domestic violence convictions. That means EVER. Continue reading →
By Brandon A. Prenger*
Hey welcome back. If you’re reading this you have decided that option number 1 is not going to work out. That leaves you with option 2. Let’s keep in mind, all the standard restrictions apply to option 2 just as option 1, so you still can’t contact the Protected Person in any way. This way is the long way for a reason; statutorily you have to wait 2 years from the issuance of the protection order to petition the court to dismiss it. This has recently changed from a 4 year waiting period to a 2 year waiting period, which highlights the ever changing laws and the need for an attorney to guide you through the process.
Once the 2 year waiting period has passed, the first step is to get fingerprinted. You need to get fingerprinted in order to conduct a fingerprint based background check. This can be done at your local police/sheriff’s office. You’ll need 2 separate fingerprint cards, one for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and one for the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The FBI requires you to provide a few extra documents, but your attorney can help you with those. Once your cards are submitted to the CBI and the FBI, it’s a waiting game. It often takes several weeks to get these results back.
You’re probably wondering what this Protection order thing means. A Protection Order prohibits you from contacting, harassing, injuring, intimidating, molesting, threatening, touching, stalking, sexually assaulting or abusing any Protected Person, or from entering or remaining on premises, or from coming within a specified distance of a Protected Person or premises, or from taking, transferring, concealing, harming, disposing of, or threatening harm to an animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by a Protected Person, or any other provision to protect the Protected Person from imminent danger to life or health. Additionally, being the subject of a Protection Order may prevent you from owning or possessing firearms and ammunition.
Now you’re probably thinking “this is no good” or more likely “what do I do now”. First and foremost, follow the above paragraph. Failing to strictly abide by a Protection Order will result in you being arrested and charged with a criminal offense. Even indirect contact such as text messages or having someone else contact the Protected Person is considered a violation of your Protection Order. So again, just leave them alone completely until the Protection Order matter is resolved.