If you have been charged with a crime in Colorado, getting the charges dropped before your court date is often the best possible outcome. An experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney can review the details of your case and work to get your charges dismissed prior to a trial if the circumstances allow it.
While there is no guarantee that charges will be dropped, in many cases, charges are dismissed or resolved prior to a trial through negotiation with the prosecution. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common strategies a skilled Colorado criminal defense lawyer may use to get your charges dropped or dismissed before your day in court.
Working with the Prosecutor to Get Charges Dropped
The prosecutor, often called the District Attorney (DA) in Colorado, has significant discretion in deciding how to handle your criminal charges. While the police make the arrest, it is up to the DA’s office whether to file formal charges, reduce charges to a lesser offense, or drop charges altogether.
An experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney will communicate and negotiate directly with the prosecutor assigned to your case. Your attorney can point out any weaknesses in the case or extenuating circumstances that may compel the DA to dismiss or reduce the charges.
Some factors that may lead a prosecutor to drop charges include:
- Insufficient Evidence – If the evidence against you is weak, circumstantial, or relies solely on unreliable witness testimony, the prosecutor may decide the case is too difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and drop the charges.
- Faulty Police Work – If there were errors in the arrest procedure, problems with how evidence was gathered and handled, or any other procedural violations by law enforcement, the prosecutor may dismiss the case rather than risk the evidence being thrown out.
- Mitigating Factors – Unique circumstances about you, the alleged crime, or the victim may sway the prosecutor to drop the charges. Examples include self-defense claims, showing the incident was accidental, or demonstrating that filing charges is not in the public interest.
- The unlikelihood of Conviction – Prosecutors have performance metrics like conviction rates that they aim to maintain. If your criminal defense attorney can demonstrate that taking your case to trial is unlikely to end in a conviction, it incentivizes the DA to dismiss the weaker cases.
So, while you do not have direct control over dropping charges, your skilled attorney can negotiate effectively with the prosecutor on your behalf to get your charges dismissed and avoid a trial altogether.
Getting Charges Dropped at the Arraignment
The arraignment is typically your first court appearance after being arrested and charged with a crime in Colorado. At the arraignment hearing, you are formally notified of the charges against you and asked to enter a plea (either guilty, not guilty, or no contest).
This hearing represents one of the earliest opportunities for your criminal defense lawyer to argue for the dismissal of your criminal charges.
Possible strategies include:
- Insufficient Complaint – The document formally charging you with a crime is legally required to contain certain elements. If the complaint is missing crucial information, your attorney can file a motion asserting that the charges are deficient and should be dropped.
- Unlawful Arrest – If the arrest itself was unlawful, such as the police lacking probable cause, your lawyer can petition the court to dismiss the case due to an invalid arrest.
- Speedy Trial Violations – Both the U.S. and Colorado Constitutions guarantee the right to a speedy trial. If too much time has lapsed between arrest and arraignment, your attorney can argue that your speedy trial rights were infringed upon. This can result in a dismissal.
- Immunity Issues – Certain people, like diplomats and police informants, have immunity from criminal prosecution. If you qualify for immunity, your charges can be dismissed at the arraignment stage.
While getting charges dismissed at an arraignment in Colorado can be challenging, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will know exactly how to approach your arraignment hearing strategically with the best chance of success.
Getting Charges Dropped Before the Statute of Limitations Expires
Each crime in Colorado has a statute of limitations – a time limit placed on how long charges can be filed after an alleged offense. If the prosecutor fails to formally file charges against you within this window, you can request the court dismiss the case entirely since the statute of limitations has now expired.
Common statute of limitations periods in Colorado include:
- Misdemeanors – 18 months
- Low-grade felonies – 3 years
- High-grade felonies – No statute of limitations
Your criminal defense lawyer can review your alleged offense and determine if the window to file charges has already closed. If so, they will file a motion asserting your charges should be dismissed as untimely according to Colorado law.
Pushing for Dismissal Due to Miranda Rights Violations
When you are arrested in Colorado, the police are required to read you your Miranda rights before any questioning. This includes your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. If the police fail to issue proper Miranda warnings, your attorney can file a motion to suppress any statements you made while in custody.
Taking this a step further, if improper Miranda procedure resulted in key evidence, the prosecution plans to use against you. Your lawyer may be able to successfully argue for the entire case to be dismissed due to the Miranda rights violation.
Negotiating Dropped Charges in Exchange for a Plea
Rather than taking every case to trial, prosecutors regularly negotiate plea bargains with defendants. This involves pleading guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for charges being dismissed or dropped down to a lower offense.
Your criminal defense lawyer can negotiate with the DA to trade a guilty plea for reduced charges or dropped charges. While obviously not as ideal as a full dismissal, this can be an effective strategy to avoid the most serious convictions against you.
Establishing an Affirmative Defense
Affirmative defenses like self-defense, insanity defenses, or duress defenses provide legal justification for actions that would otherwise be criminal. If your attorney can demonstrate you acted within the boundaries of one of these accepted defenses, they may succeed in a full dismissal of charges prior to trial.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney on Dropping Charges
The Colorado criminal attorneys at Right Law Group have extensive experience negotiating with prosecutors and fighting in court to get charges against their clients dismissed.
If you are facing criminal charges, they can carefully review your case and begin building a strategy focused on dropping or dismissing your charges prior to trial.
Don’t leave your future up to chance. The legal team at Right Law Group will aggressively pursue the dismissal of your criminal charges.