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Common Misconceptions in Colorado Criminal Cases

The criminal defense attorneys at Burnham Law have represented individuals ranging from minor infractions to serious felonies.  Within the decades of experience our attorneys have repeatedly answered the following misconceptions about Colorado criminal cases.

Misconception #1:  Police must have proof to arrest me

We all have heard that those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is necessary to be convicted of a crime.  But to be arrested, all the police need is probable cause.  Probable cause is simply the reasonable belief that an offense has been or is being committed by the person arrested.

While the information used by the arresting officer must be more than rumor or suspicion; Colorado law states that the information need not be of the quality necessary to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt nor does the information need to be admissible as evidence in Court.  This means that an officer can arrest you even if all they have is reasonably trustworthy hearsay.  Nor does the arresting officer have to be certain that a particular crime has been committed, just that some crime has been committed.

If you are being investigated for a crime, it is crucial that you retain an attorney.  Probable cause is all that is necessary for you to end up arrested,, and an experienced attorney can help to level the playing field.

Misconception #2:  The alleged victim decides if “charges are pressed”

After arrest, the case is turned over to a prosecutor (usually the local district attorney’s office).  At this stage, it is completely up to the district attorney on whether to prosecute or dismiss the case.  Despite what you may see on television, it is not up to the alleged victim to “press charges” nor is it up to the alleged victim “not to press charges.”  In many cases, the alleged victim will tell the prosecutor that they do not want the case to continue and for the charges to be dismissed.   Despite the alleged victim not wanting to pursue charges, the prosecutor may still pursue the case.  Depending on what evidence is available to the prosecutor, the prosecutor may go to trial and you could still be convicted even if the alleged victim does not participate at all.

This misconception happens frequently.

Misconception #3:  No one can be convicted on “hearsay”

Yes, you can be convicted by hearsay.  This is because what most people believe is “hearsay” can either be (1) not hearsay under the rules of evidence or (2) an exception under the rules of evidence. The rules of evidence surrounding hearsay are complex.  There are hearsay exceptions and exclusions that permit certain types of hearsay into Court.  Some examples are

  1. spontaneous present sense impressions,
  2. excited utterances,
  3. then existing mental, emotional, or physical condition,
  4. statements for medical diagnosis,
  5. recorded recollection,
  6. records of regularly conducted activities,
  7. public records
  8. statements against interest.

Our attorneys at Burnham Law have the experience and legal expertise to evaluate admissibility of hearsay statements before you walk into court.

Misconception #4:  My lawyer will get me off

Having an experienced attorney is important.  But an attorney can never guarantee a specific result.  In fact, the ultimate decision to dismiss a case is never decided by the defense attorney.  Dismissals can only be decided by:

  1. The prosecutor decides to dismiss the charges.
  2. The judge dismisses the case based upon a legal challenge.
  3. The jury finds the accused not guilty.

Therefore, the only people who can ultimately decide if a case is dismissed is the prosecutor, the judge, or a jury (not the defense attorney).

Ultimately, the above three avenues are the only ways to have your cases dismissed.  From the start of representation, Burnham Law will develop strategies for each avenue of dismissal.

The criminal defense attorneys at Burnham Law have the experience to employ the most effective strategy to convince the prosecutor to dismiss your case.   This strategy changes immensely from case to case.  Burnham Law has convinced the prosecutor to dismiss charges and cases against our clients.

The criminal defense attorneys at Burnham Law will intently review the decisions and actions by law enforcement in your case.  Police are restricted to what they can and cannot do during investigations and arrests.  If the police act outside their boundaries, our attorneys are Burnham Law are prepared to fight for your rights and give you the best chance of having your case dismissed by the judge. Burnham Law has successfully convinced judges to dismiss cases based upon our legal challenges.

If your case ends in trial, Burnham Law is ready to head into battle.  From the beginning of our representation, we will develop a trial strategy such if your case is not dismissed before trial, you will have the best odds for a jury to find you not guilty.  We are experienced in hiring our own investigators and experts to counter the prosecutor’s evidence.   Many attorneys have experience in criminal defense, but not all criminal defense attorneys have deep experience with criminal jury trials.

The criminal defense attorneys at Burnham Law have years of experience.  This lengthy experience, while not allowing us to guarantee a result, gives us a much better understanding and insight into the likelihood of specific outcomes.  Yes, we can (and will!) advise you on the likely outcomes of your case, but we can never guarantee a specific outcome (nor can any attorney).


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Partner - Domestic Relations & Criminal Defense

Colorado Springs

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