Understanding Your Rights: A Guide to Criminal Defense in Colorado

Posted by Casey Alexander | Apr 12, 2024 | 0 Comments

One of the defining characteristics of our country is equality. Everyone is equal under the law – including those accused of the most heinous offenses. Whether you are accused of murder, shoplifting, or any other offense, you have important rights in Colorado. The first step in fighting for these rights is understanding them. Once you become aware of your rights as a criminal defendant, you can proceed with confidence. Your criminal defense lawyer in Colorado can fight for these rights on your behalf. 

Your Right to Due Process

Your right to due process is provided by the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. What exactly is “due process,” and why is it important? In criminal cases, courts must take very specific steps before they detain you and take away your property. Without this due process, governments could throw people in prison without valid reason or explanation. The 14th Amendment guarantees you a fair trial. 

The Presumption of Innocence

All criminal defendants are innocent until proven guilty in the United States. In other words, you have no responsibility to prove your innocence after facing criminal charges. Instead, prosecutors must prove your guilt. Without this presumption of innocence, society would devolve into a mess of baseless accusations and kangaroo courts. These situations have emerged in some of the worst dictatorships in human history – ones where civilians are encouraged to report each other's imagined crimes with no evidence whatsoever. 

The Fifth Amendment

The Fifth Amendment allows you to remain silent. If you are being questioned in the United States, you can always refuse to answer. This applies during your initial arrest and subsequent interviews with detectives. You are also under no obligation to testify in your own criminal defense trial, and many lawyers recommend against this. 

But that is not the most important aspect of the Fifth Amendment. Under this law, courts cannot interpret your silence as a sign of guilt. If prosecutors attempt to suggest that your silence makes you suspicious, they will face serious consequences and reprimands from sitting judges. 

The Sixth Amendment

The Sixth Amendment offers you many important rights. First, it gives you the right to a speedy trial. In other words, authorities cannot incarcerate you for extended periods of time without a trial. If you have been accused of a crime, courts must proceed with a trial in a timely manner. In some cases, courts have been forced to drop charges due to unreasonable delays. 

The Sixth Amendment also gives you the right to face your accuser. In other words, you cannot be convicted based on “anonymous tips.” If someone wants to accuse you of a crime, they must testify in court and identify themselves. 

In addition, the Sixth Amendment gives you the right to an impartial jury. As a criminal defendant, you and your attorney can play a role in selecting the jury. If someone seems biased against you, they should not serve on the jury. In addition, your entire trial may need to move to a different location if a specific town or jurisdiction is biased against you. This helps ensure an impartial jury.  

The Burden of Proof

Prosecutors must prove your guilt “beyond reasonable doubt.” If they fail in this regard, the court cannot convict you. This is the highest burden of proof of all legal cases in the United States, and it is higher than the “preponderance of evidence” required to prove guilt in civil cases. 

Understanding the concept of “beyond reasonable doubt” is easier when you consider percentages. Although the exact percentage is not set in stone, most judges agree that it represents a certainty of more than 90%. In other words, the jury must believe that there is a 90% likelihood you committed the crime. Some judges believe that this percentage is more like 95%, while some say it is 99%. Generally speaking, the jury should not convict you if they have even the slightest doubt of your guilt. 

This doubt may arise for several reasons. First, the lack of evidence laid against you may cause sufficient doubt – even if you fail to present any evidence of your own. Remember, it is the prosecution's job to prove your guilt. It is not your job to prove your innocence if the prosecution fails in this regard. 

Doubt may also arise due to the quality of the evidence laid against you. A qualified defense attorney can provide meaningful assistance. These legal professionals can call into question the reliability of the evidence laid against you. For example, an eyewitness might testify that they saw you breaking into a car. However, your lawyer might highlight the fact that this person is visually impaired. 

Prosecutors might use video footage to pursue a conviction. However, your lawyer might argue that this footage is far too pixelated and grainy to be reliable. They might also present footage of the same incident – but from a different angle.

These are just a few examples of how a criminal defense lawyer can help. 

Your Right to An Attorney

Your right to an attorney is one of your most important rights as a criminal defendant in Colorado. This right is so important that if you cannot afford a criminal defense lawyer, the court will provide one to you free of charge. These free lawyers are called “public defenders,” and they play an important role in the criminal justice system. While many public defenders are highly competent, they may not fight for your rights in the same way as a private defense attorney. Generally speaking, public defenders are more likely to pursue plea deals due to their close working relationships with prosecutors. 

In contrast, a private defense attorney may be more likely to fight for your rights, question the evidence brought against you, and pursue more creative defense strategies on your behalf. At the very least, it makes sense to consult with a private defense attorney in Colorado before simply accepting a public defender. Reach out to Casey James Alexander today to discuss your case. 

About the Author

Casey Alexander

  YOUR ATTORNEY CASEY ALEXANDER Founding Attorney Prior to becoming an attorney Casey served in the United States Navy.  Now he serves the people of Northern Colorado and advocates for their legal needs. Bar Admissions Colorado PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS 01 Larimer County Bar ...


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment