Colorado Municipal Courts and County Courts are Different
In Colorado, Municipal Courts handle criminal charges which involve violations of city law, also known as the city code. Cities like Lakewood, Littleton, Denver, Arvada, Edgewater, Castle Rock, Aurora and Westminster all have their own courthouses where they have court. Municipal judges hear cases brought by the city attorney’s offices. County courts are divided by counties, such as Adams, Jefferson and Arapahoe, and charges are filed by the District Attorney. Here, judges work on alleged violations of state law. Procedures used by the two courts are different as well. Our criminal defense lawyers regularly practice in both courts.
Aurora Municipal Court Charges are Better Than Arapahoe County Court Charges
Typically, it is much better to be charged in a Municipal Court rather than County Court. There are several reasons for this, which include sealing of records, possible jail sentence length and availability of criminal records. In places like the Aurora and Lakewood Municipal Court, if you are convicted, you can generally get your record sealed after a couple of years following completion of your jail or probation sentence. In County Court, many criminal records can never be sealed. Jail sentences in the Douglas County Court normally can be for up to 2 years. City courts normally cannot sentence someone to greater than one year in jail. We have seen that criminal records are not reported as faithfully in Municipal Court, as they are in County Court. Read more on Sealing of Municipal Criminal Records.
Jury Trials in Lakewood Municipal Court vs. Jefferson County Court
Having a jury trial for your charges is generally the best route. Judges are much more quick to convict than are members of an impartial jury. When your life is on the line, never trust a city or county paid judge to decide your case. An important fact to remember is that there are two requirements to getting a Municipal Jury trial compared to a County Court jury trial. In city courts, you must 1) request a jury of 6, IN WRITING, within the deadline (never accept a jury less than six jurors). A deadline is typically 10-20 days following your first court appearance. 2) You must pay a $25 jury fee within the deadline. If either of these requirements are not fulfilled, you will not get a jury in Municipal Court. In County Court, you get a jury automatically. In either case, always remember that the bigger the jury, the better. Since the most you can get in either court is six – that is the magic number.
In Denver, Who Decides Whether to Charge Municipal or County Court?
The police typically decide where to file charges, based in city policy. They are told by city officials which cases should go through what court. Of course, there are some laws which limit their choices. DUI charges, DWAI charges, most sex offenses, and all felony charges will go through County and District Court. We frequently see domestic violence charges, harassment, minor assaults, minor thefts and disorderly conduct charges in the Denver Municipal Court. All municipal code violations for crimes like a noisy dog, weeds, abandoned cars, littering, loud stereo noise violations and shoplifting are filed in Municipal Court. The larger percentage of juvenile crimes are also filed in City Court. Cities prefer to file as many charges locally as possible, so they can obtain revenue to support their court infrastructure.
Do you Need a Lawyer in a Municipal Court Case?
Whether your case is filed in Lone Tree Municipal Court, Sheridan Municipal Court or Thornton Municipal Court, you need an attorney at your side. Convictions can have lifelong consequences on your record – even if eventually sealed. Always consult a top criminal defense lawyer from our office to ensure your rights are protected and your criminal record remains spotless. Never plead guilty “just to get it over with”. Pleading guilty early can often result in the case and your record never going away.
Never give a statement to police about your potential charges. Instead, set up a meeting with the best Municipal Court attorneys in Colorado by calling 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.
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