Sentencing in a Colorado Criminal Case
Sentencing Alternatives: Are there other sentencing alternatives for me besides jail?
I hate jail. My personal goal for all of my clients is to eliminate jail completely, or minimize the amount of time my clients must spend in jail or in prison.
Many lawyers promise you that they will explore other sentencing alternatives besides jail. That's an easy promise to make, because many options are available under the law to anyone who qualifies under specific guidelines set forth by the court, the Colorado Legislature, the probation department, or the jails.
When I work with a client, it's important that we outline specific goals for the client, considering he or she is faced with a life-changing, usually horrible set of choices. Let's face it, who wants to have to go to court to defend a criminal case? Given that we're not dealing with the best of all possible circumstances, it's very important for my clients to help me understand where their priorities are, so I can put my efforts into accomplishing what's valuable to them.
For instance, some people are most concerning with not having a conviction on their record. Other people don't mind a conviction, if they can make sure it's cleared or sealed (sometimes erroneously called "expunged") in a couple of years when they'll be making a job change. Other people need to know that they won't miss too much work because of court, or that they'll be able to keep their job even if they have some sort of sentence to serve. Still others have childcare, education or licensing issues that are most important for them to protect. Others have a priority to see that they (finally) get their driver's license back, so they can stop getting little tickets that pile up and up and up....
Many of my clients find that they have drug and alcohol addiction or psychological issues to address. Others need professional help in controlling temper, range and anger. I can assist you in identifying these issues, and help guide you (if you want) to and work with professionals in the psychological, psychiatric, or recovery areas. Successful work by you on these personal issues may 1) enable the court to show you leniency where leniency may not have been easy to get otherwise, and 2) allow you to deal with the source of a recurring, debilitating problem in your life which you've never before had motivation to control.
Whatever your personal issues are, I can work with you to make sure you've identified them clearly, and then structure our work on the case around your own priorities. What's right for one person is absolutely the wrong approach for another. All sentencing alternatives that are right for you, will be discussed, explored, and fought for in court and out of court.
What You Can Be Doing
At the outset of your defense case, I will want to talk with you about things that you can be doing to minimize any sentence that you will face in the event you must take a conviction. In cases where alcohol or drugs were involved, this may mean getting enrolled in a treatment program, and possibly even monitored sobriety. In some cases, monitored sobriety will be ordered as part of your pretrial supervision. However, in cases where that is not a court-ordered requirement, you can gain respect from the judge in your case by being able to demonstrate both that you have been sober – and also that you took the initiative to do such monitoring on your own.
You should also be developing “mitigation,” which means any information that shows that you are a good member of the community. This may include volunteer work, or other community involvement, such as with the church, youth sports, or even your own child’s education. Please gather written evidence of these things when possible. You may also want to include academic achievements, professional achievements, and any other facts that paint you in a good light. Letters of recommendation, or supporting your character generally, can be helpful as well.