Colorado Springs Criminal Defense FAQs
Have you been arrested or do you have an Emergency?
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I HAVE A LOW INCOME AND VERY LITTLE IN SAVINGS. AM I ALLOWED TO REPRESENT MYSELF AGAINST CRIMINAL CHARGES?
A. The short answer is yes, there is nothing legally keeping you from representing yourself. A more realistic answer is that it is rarely in your best interest to represent yourself. Prosecutors know the law and know the tactics that are most often successful in obtaining a conviction. You are not playing on a level field, and you are taking a huge risk with your future if you fail to obtain the best possible representation from an experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney. You need an advocate who understands the law, your constitutional rights, and the rules of evidence, and who has the ability to prepare a case and present a persuasive defense to a jury.
Q. MY INCOME WILL QUALIFY ME FOR A PUBLIC DEFENDER. IS THIS A GOOD IDEA?
A. Some public defenders are new lawyers fresh out of law school, while others have more experience. Many are dedicated attorneys who do their best for their clients. Unfortunately, public defenders are usually so overloaded with cases they simply do not have much time to devote any one defendant. In a criminal case, because you have so much at stake, it is in your best interest to seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you. Ask for a payment plan.
Q. HOW ARE CRIMES CLASSIFIED IN COLORADO?
A. Criminal offenses are classified, from least to most serious, as petty offenses, misdemeanors, and felonies. Each of these categories is divided into subclasses, depending on the severity of the crime. As the severity of the offense goes up, the class number goes down, so a Class 1 felony is the most serious type of crime. Jail time for a petty offense is generally only six months or less, while serious misdemeanors can result in up to 18 months, and felonies can result in sentences of up to life in prison.
Q. WHEN DO I ENTER MY PLEA?
A. In District Court, the first appearance is a preliminary one in which you will be advised of your rights. After that, an arraignment will be set. At the arraignment, the charges against you will be read and you will enter your plea. In the lower courts-county and municipal courts—you usually enter your plea at the first hearing.
Q. I PLAN TO PLEAD "NOT GUILTY," WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?
A. Your attorney will have time to conduct an investigation of the charges and review the evidence on which the prosecutor is basing the case against you. Your attorney will file pre-trial motions and then will prepare for trial or, when it is in your best interest, enter into negotiations for a plea agreement or deferred sentence. An experienced defense attorney will often be able to successfully resolve your case without the necessity of a trial.
Otherwise, the case will move to a pre-trial hearing in which both sides will inform the judge of the case's status. The judge will rule on any remaining pretrial motions and will determine whether both sides are ready to proceed to trial.
Q. WHAT IS A PLEA AGREEMENT?
A. A plea agreement is a means of resolving a case without a trial. Typically, the prosecutor will allow the defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge or to accept a reduced or deferred sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. If the prosecution has a strong enough case that a full acquittal seems unlikely, a plea bargain may be in your best interest. Your attorney can advise you after reviewing the evidence and conducting his or her own investigation. This is an area where a skilled defense attorney can often negotiate a fair resolution that will work to your advantage.
Q. WHAT IS MEANT BY A DEFERRED SENTENCE?
A. This is a type of plea agreement in which you enter a guilty plea and waive your right to trial, but accept certain conditions, for example completing a domestic violence or substance abuse program and not committing additional offenses. If you've complied with the all the conditions for the entire deferment period, the charges will then be dismissed.
Q. DO I HAVE TO SUBMIT TO A CHEMICAL TEST FOR BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT IF A POLICE OFFICER ORDERS IT?
A. No, because you have the constitutional right not to incriminate yourself. However, having a driver's license implies consent to be tested if there is cause to believe you were driving under the influence, so if you refuse, your license can be suspended.
Q. WHAT HAPPENS IF I REFUSE A BREATHALYZER OR BLOOD TEST TO DETERMINE BY BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT?
For the remainder of 2013, you can potentially lose your license for one year with no chance of a probationary license. However, beginning on January of 2014, a new law will allow you to get a probationary license with an interlock device for one year, after you complete an initial period of 60 days without driving.
Q. I HAD A HEARING AT THE DMV AND THEY TOOK AWAY MY LICENSE AFTER I WAS CHARGED WITH A DUI. DOES THIS MEAN I'LL AUTOMATICALLY BE CONVICTED IN COURT ON THE DUI CHARGE?
Q. WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGE COMPARED TO THE SAME CHARGE OUTSIDE OF A DOMESTIC RELATIONSHIP?
First, police have little discretion when called out on a domestic violence complaint. They are required to make an arrest if there is any evidence at all of domestic violence having occurred. Even if the person who made the call decides to back away from it, an arrest is mandatory. If the complaining party doesn't want to press charges, the state may still decide to prosecute. The alleged victim also has additional rights in a domestic violence case, including the right to speak at sentencing and to be told when the defendant is going to be released. Participation in a domestic violence treatment program is mandatory with a conviction, and you will lose your right to own a gun. If you're in the military, a criminal conviction on any domestic violence charge, including a misdemeanor, can end your military career. A domestic violence conviction can have many other repercussions, including limiting your employment prospects and deportation if you are not a U.S. citizen.
Contact criminal defense attorney Steven Rodemer if you are facing domestic violence charges in the Colorado Springs area. Steve has extensive experience defending clients, both civilian and military, against DV allegations.
Q. I HAD SEVERAL CHARGES WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER AND SPENT TWENTY DAYS IN A JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITY. I AM OLDER AND WISER NOW AND HAVE PUT THAT BRIEF PERIOD OF REBELLION FAR BEHIND ME, BUT WHENEVER I APPLY FOR A JOB WHERE THEY DO A BACKGROUND CHECK, MY HISTORY COMES BACK TO BITE ME. CAN I HAVE MY JUVENILE RECORD SEALED?
A. In most cases, you can petition the court to have your juvenile record expunged. It will not be done automatically, so find a good criminal defense lawyer who handles record expungements to assist you. In Colorado Springs, Steven Rodemer has plenty of experience having records expunged for his clients.
Q. WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER?
A. Experience is extremely important. Look for a lawyer who limits his or her practice exclusively to criminal law. Practicing the same kind of law day in and day out allows an attorney to develop a level of expertise that could be elusive in a lawyer who does criminal work only occasionally. Your lawyer should have an intimate knowledge of the court system and should have the respect of judges and prosecutors. A defense lawyer who has also been a prosecutor is usually a good choice in that regard. Check the lawyer's AVVO rating to get an unbiased opinion. And finally, make sure that your lawyer is someone you trust and feel comfortable with.
Criminal defense attorney Steven Rodemer is a passionate advocate for the rights of the accused. As a former prosecutor, he knows the ins and outs of Colorado's criminal justice system, understands the tactics prosecutors use, and has earned the respect of judges, legal colleagues, and grateful clients. His work ethic and unwavering commitment to every client has made him a rising star in the Colorado Springs legal community. AVVO rates Steve with a perfect score of 10 (superb), the highest rating possible.
For an advocate who will fight for the best resolution for now and for the future, call the Law Offices of Steven T. Rodemer immediately if you have been questioned or arrested for any crime, or accused of drunk driving. The initial consultation is free.