Whether you are facing criminal charges for the first time, or you have been through this process before, it is important that your criminal case be handled successfully. Whether you are trying to keep a spotless record clean, or trying to avoid a prison sentence, there is much at stake. Generally, the more serious the offense, the more likely that even a first conviction could result in jail or prison. This is especially true if the defendant has a prior criminal record. For more information about the possible penalties that could result from your charge, please visit our sentencing page.
Regardless of what charge you are facing, your criminal attorney must analyze the evidence against you, and develop any defense evidence you might have, in order to accurately tell you whether you will likely be convicted or not at trial. Routinely, people are falsely accused of crimes. Naturally in such a case, your attorney's goal will be to have your case dismissed, and in the alternative to win your case at trial. In other cases, the District Attorney's case will be unbeatable, and the evidence against you overwhelming, in which case you will probably need an effectively negotiated plea agreement. In still other cases, it will be "shades of grey," and the potential outcome at a trial of your case will be uncertain.
Thus, a crucial part of effective representation is to help the accused decide whether a jury trial or a plea agreement is the best route to the end of the case. The stronger your defense case, the stronger your negotiating position is with the District Attorney before trial. More importantly, in cases where the accused is at great risk of losing based on the evidence, effective representation can often "control the damage" by getting the DA to agree to a reasonable outcome.
When your Denver criminal attorney helps you to decide whether the District Attorney has a strong chance of proving you guilty, he must consider how the evidence in your case measures up against the legal "elements" of that offense - as they appear in the law books. Regardless of the charge you are facing in Colorado, the DA must prove each of several different elements. In all cases, the first elements are the same:
- That you (not someone else),
- In the County of Denver (for example), State of Colorado,
- On the date and place charged,
- The elements that follow these are the ones that are unique to the crime you have been charged with. For example, in a domestic violence / Harassment case, the other elements include:
- With the intent to annoy, harass, or alarm,
- Striked, shoved, or kicked (the victim),
If the District Attorney fails to prove any single element to the jury, then the jury must find the defendant not guilty. Your attorney may attack some or all of these elements during trial. In the example above, your defense may be that yes, you struck the person, but it was in self-defense, and therefore it was not your intent to "annoy, harass, or alarm" the person.
The approach is the same regardless of the criminal charge. Sometimes the elements are provable, and sometimes one or more are not. An experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer will be able to spot where the District Attorney's weak spots are, and develop the best possible attack to them. As mentioned above, forecasting what will happen in court ahead of time can prevent unwanted results. If your attorney sees a dead end for your defense case ahead, you may be able to avoid serious punishment. On the other hand, in cases where the District Attorney is making an unreasonable offer and / or you have a strong defense case, trial is likely going to be your best option.