CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
If you or a loved one are charged, or under investigation, please contact us immediately. The best defense is almost always a preemptive defense. You need to protect your rights and interests.
Elizabeth Drake has experience with over 100 criminal jury trials at all levels of offenses from DUI to Murder in the First Degree and can help you with the criminal case, as well as other consequences of a criminal case such as penalties affecting your driver’s license, the pitfalls of restraining orders, effects on professional licensing and motions to seal records.
Elizabeth Drake was a prosecutor for over 10 years and has extensive experience in guiding individuals through the criminal justice system. There is an advantage in knowing how the prosecutor will view the case to determine strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the matter, and to be able to advise you on any offers given and possible outcomes of a jury trial.
In every criminal case, there will be a mandatory protection order issued and, if there was an arrest, an order stating conditions of the bond. It is imperative that you understand what these orders mean. All too often, the defendant does not understand what is expected and ends up in the unfortunate circumstances of having a second case against them for violating these orders.
Colorado sentencing is one of the most complicated and convoluted areas of law. There are standard sentencing ranges, most with possibilities of fines or imprisonment, or both, or alternative sentences such as deferment and probation. These ranges can be raised or lowered depending on aggravators and mitigators. Some crimes have special sentencing or sentence enhancers that change the range and some have mandatory sentences that are not always easy to determine. It is important to fully understand what the potential outcome could be so that you can weigh your choices and make informed decisions about your case and your future.
WHAT TO BRING TO YOUR APPOINTMENT
Please bring with you all the court documents you have received, especially the charging document which could be a ticket, or a formal document written and signed by the District Attorney’s Office.
Bring with you any reports that you may have, but know that once we enter an appearing in your case, it is typically easier for us to get copies of any discovery that has been filed. Discovery is information that the District Attorney is required to provide defense and can include in-car/body-worn cameras, officer reports, interviews, pictures, criminal and driving histories, and any other evidence they plan on using in the case.
Bring with you copies of all bonds and protection orders you have.
Bring with you anything you think will help us understand your case.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT COURT
There is no single path all cases take through the court system. In general, misdemeanor and traffic cases take a lot less time than felonies. Initially there may be a bond hearing where terms of the bond and its amount are set by a judge. When a case is first in front of a judge, they will issue mandatory restraining orders, orders to relinquish firearms, and orders for fingerprinting. You will also be informed of the charges and of your rights. If there was an arrest, the District Attorney will have a limited time to file the charges and can request additional time to do so.
Any time the case is on a “docket day” the court calls case after case to get another date to appear in court. In some counties, the District Attorney will make an offer at this point, while other courts set cases for a pretrial conference. The purpose of a pretrial conference is for attorneys to meet and discuss the case and any potential offers. This may even take place via phone conversations and email before the court date.
If it is a felony, the case is possibly eligible for a preliminary hearing. Not all cases are eligible. Factors of eligibility include the level of felony, if the person is in or out of custody, and if there is any mandatory incarceration. At a preliminary hearing the District Attorney must show that it is more likely than not that the defendant committed the crime. Testimony at preliminary hearings is primarily from officers.
A plea agreement may be reached at any time, sometimes even in the middle of a trial. However, if a case does not have an agreement, a motions hearing will be scheduled. This is when attorneys argue over the legal aspects of a case. The most common motions are motions to suppress statements and/or evidence, and motions to exclude certain evidence.
Ultimately, if a case is not resolved, there is a trial to a jury. The jury consists of 6 people for misdemeanors and DUIs and 12 people for felonies, plus any alternates that may be added in case something happens and a jury member is unable to finish a trial.
If a plea is reached, you will be waiving certain rights. There are sets of advisements that the court must go through with you and paperwork that must be completed. This is another critical moment that could have long lasting effects in your life, so you must fully understand the consequences when signing those documents.
Juvenile law has its own unique nuances. Cases move through the system at a much faster pace and the sentencing structure is completely different than that of adults. Typically, juvenile court involves more authorities such as truancy officers, SB-94 officer (monitors kids before convictions or trials), probation officers, treatment providers, GAL (guardian ad litem – a person who is appointed when there is a conflict between the child and their parent(s)), District Attorneys, and attorneys representing the child. It quickly can become overwhelming.
Juvenile law has the goal to look out for the best interest of the juvenile. Finding out what that means can be a difficult task. Elizabeth Drake has worked in the juvenile system and has been a part of cases of many different types of cases. She has worked on cases where juveniles were charged as adults, cases involving pretrial release services, and alternative sentences. She has also advocated for kids with disabilities, ranging from mild to very severe disabilities.