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Courts: The Hidden Costs of the Victims' Bill of Rights

court-cost.jpgThe citizens of Colorado have voted in a constitutional provision which has huge unintended costs on Colorado courts. Special interest groups lobbied the public with this bad law which costs millions of dollars to implement each year. As criminal defense lawyers, we see dozens of cases a year where innocent men and women can't get out of jail for days or weeks (at great cost to house them), because District Attorneys have not consulted with victims about the long list below.

In thousands of cases a year, the dockets of courts swell in numbers due to continuances of court hearings required due to the failure of the DA to consult with the victim of a crime. Well intended, the criminal justice system is drowning in the costly delays caused by this law. Here are just a few of its many provisions:

Article II, Section 16a, of the Colorado Constitution, provides:

Any person who is a victim of a criminal act . . . shall have the right to be heard when relevant, informed, and present at all critical stages of the criminal justice process.

C.R.S. 24-4.1-302 (2) "Critical stages" means the following stages of the criminal justice process (some have been shortened for brevity sake):

(a) The filing of charges against a person accused of a crime;

(a.5) The decision not to file charges...;

(a.7) The decision to enter into a diversion agreement...;

(b) The preliminary hearing;

(c) (I) Any court action involving a bond reduction or modification at which the following occurs:

(A) A bond is set lower than the scheduled or customary amount for the specific charge...

(B) A change in the type of bond;

(C) A modification to a condition of the bond;

(D) A defendant is permitted to appear without posting a bond;

(E) In a case involving a capital offense, the court grants the defendant's motion for admission to bail...; or

(F) For jurisdictions that do not have a bond schedule or customary amount for bond, a bond is modified to a lower amount than that set at the initial bond hearing...

(d) The arraignment of a person accused of a crime;

(e) Any hearing on motions concerning evidentiary matters or pre-plea or post-plea relief;

(e.5) Any subpoena for records concerning the victim's medical history, mental health, education, or victim's compensation;

(f) Any disposition of the complaint or charges against the person accused;

(g) The trial;

(h) Any sentencing hearing;

(i) Any appellate review or appellate decision;

(j) Any subsequent modification of the sentence;

(k) Any probation revocation hearing;

(k.3) The filing of any complaint, summons, or warrant by the probation department for failure to report to probation or because the location of a person convicted of a crime is unknown;

(k.5) The change of venue or transfer of probation supervision from one jurisdiction to another;

(k.7) The request for any release from probation supervision prior to the expiration of the defendant's sentence;

(l) An attack on a judgment or conviction for which a court hearing is set;

(m) Any parole application hearing;

(n) The parole, release, or discharge from imprisonment of a person convicted of a crime;

(o) Any parole revocation hearing;

(p) The transfer to or placement of a person convicted of a crime in a nonsecured facility;

(q) The transfer, release, or escape of a person charged with or convicted of a crime from any state hospital;

(r) Any petition by a sex offender to terminate sex offender registration;

(r.3) Any hearing concerning a petition for expungement as described in section 19-1-306(5)(a), C.R.S.;

(s) The execution of an offender in a capital case;

(t) A hearing held pursuant to section 18-1-414(2)(b), C.R.S.; and

(u) The decision, whether by court order, stipulation of the parties, or otherwise, to conduct postconviction DNA testing to establish the actual innocence of the person convicted of a crime against the victim...;

The judicial system is frequently brought to a sudden stop in order to comply with this overly broad law. When you or a family member is burdened by these provisions, call our experienced criminal defense lawyers at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.

Image courtesy of Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

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