Colorado Front Range Chapter of
Parents of Murdered Children
For the families and friends of those who have died by violence



Judges have a great deal of discretion as to how they run their courtrooms. There are certain things, though, that remain constant.

The Filing/Advisal

This is the first court procedure. At this time, the defendant is given a copy of the charges against him and his rights are explained to him (This often takes a GREAT DEAL of time, and the judge may stop over and over to ask the defendamt if he understands his rights. Don't let this upset you. the judge is just trying to close the doors to any future reason for appeal such as the defendant didn't know he had certain rights) The bond is often set at the advisal as well.

The Preliminary Hearing

At the preliminary hearing, the county court will decide if there is "probable cause" to "bind the case over" to the district court. Evidence is presented, and there is more discretion among the lawyers in what they present. Some evidence, such as hearsay, given in preliminary hearings will not be allowed later in the trial. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to show it is likely a crime has been committed. Here, also, plea bargains may be struck.

The Arraignment

The defendent is required to appear at the arraignment. The judge may advise the defendent of his rights and the charges again or he may seek a waiver of that advisal. Usually, the defense attorney will waive the further reading of the charges and enter a "Not Guilty" plea. Then, he may ask for a continuance of the arraignment ( so much for the right to a speedy trial) so that he has time to work out a plea.

Motions Hearings & Pre-trial Hearings

Every time a lawyer wants to change something in the procedure, or enter new evidence, there must be a hearing. This does not automatically mean the judge will grant whatever is being asked. It just means that he has to hear the proposal.

The Trial

Often takes place a year or more after the crime. Consult your advocate for guidelines about how to behave in court--what to say or not say--and what to expect from the defense attorney. Often it is good to make a CD or tape of your loved one to present to the court. They are required to look at everything submitted. Each day in court, the judge will see a tearful and evidentally remorseful--or a young and vulnerable--defendant. At least the defense attorney will attempt to paint him that way. BUT YOUR LOVED ONE HAS NO FACE. He is referred to as "the victim." Our DA protested to something the defense did that --as the DA said, was against our son's rights. The defense stood and told the judge that our son had no rights--he was dead. MAKE THE JUDGE AWARE THAT THE VICTIM IS A PERSON.

The Sentencing

If the defendant is found guilty, the sentencing takes place approximately 8 weeks after the end of the trial. BE AWARE: There is an automatic appeal of the sentence. IT DOES NOT MEAN IT WILL BE GRANTED. In Colorado, the defendant will be granted "time served." If he stayed in jail for a year waiting for trial, that amount of time will be credited toward serving his sentence. Also, in Colorado, felons are sent to a diagnostic center before being sent to a prison. There, tests are administered to him to determine which prison he will go to and which classes ( anger management, AA, etc.) he should attend . His first parole hearing date is set at that time. Do not be shocked...the first date will be at approximately the halfway mark of his sentence. Then, when he gets to prison, he can earn "good time." This amounts to 10 days a month off his sentence, and is given for working, going to classes and being easy to deal with. HOWEVER, it is unusual for a defendant not to earm his good time. So, be aware that dates for parole hearings and release will chjange as the good time adds up. In addition, Defendants have the right, 18 months before they come up for parole, to request placement in Communityt Corrections ( a halfway house.) YOU WILL BE ADVISED EACH TIME HE APPLIES, AND HAVE THE RIGHT TO WRITE A LETTER OF PROTEST WHICH WILL BE SENT TO ALL COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS FACILITIES TO WHICH HE HAS APPLIED.