By Chris Ponce
Posted on 1-20-2021
You’re out with friends having a great time, having some drinks, watching a game. Or, maybe you’re grieving the loss of a loved one and you’re out at the local bar trying to make sense of a fresh, grievous void in your life, Perhaps your spouse or partner just told you they wanted a divorce, and now you have to worry about how to sever two lives that were once so intricately fused together. Maybe any or all of these people are you. You enjoy your drinks, you mourn, you count your losses, the time ticks and the drinks keep coming. Now, it’s time to leave, it’s time to go home. You think, “Should I be driving?”
Maybe you truly are okay to drive; maybe not.
You get behind the wheel. You’re exhausted, from happiness or from sorrow, or a little of both. Your engine roars to life. You can’t wait to get where you’re going. It all seems to happen so suddenly, so rapidly: those alarming red and blue lights begin flickering behind you, lighting up your dashboard with the stark reality that you’re about to be contacted by a cop. You pull over.
At this moment in time, maybe you’re totally convinced you’re sober to drive; or, maybe those red and blues suddenly make you painfully aware of just how hazy and inebriated you feel. A hundred anxieties flash through your mind in a second: What will my wife think? Will my husband get the kids now? Will my partner leave me after this? Will I be fired? Will I lose my license? Will? Will? What will be?
The officer comes to the window. In seconds you can tell he smells the alcohol or the weed, or both. You’re nervous. Does he think I’m drunk because I’m nervous. You’re agitated. Is this making me look drunk (drunker than I am). You fumble through your paperwork. Oh no. He’s asking you to step out of the car. Is he talking? I’m not answering. You get out of the car.
The cop says, “Would you be willing to perform some voluntary roadside maneuvers for me to determine whether you’re safe to drive.”
Here come the tests. Yes, those tests you’ve seen people bombing on Youtube videos. Those tests—you’ve driven by it yourself, even laughing at the poor sap on the side of the road trying to desperately stand on one leg, walk a line, stare at a stern finger and watch it trace the horizon. Now you’re the sap. Who’s driving by? Who’s going to see me out here? Is it my colleagues, my boss, or my spouse?
Then, the cop shatters your world: “I am placing you under arrest for DUI.” He or she offers you a blood or breath test. Do you take it? Do you not? You’re not sure. You feel okay, maybe you don’t. How will it look if you do? How will it look if you don’t? It’s all happening so fast. The handcuff clasp together, and this is so unfamiliar to you. This isn’t you. You’re a good person, not a criminal. Now you feel utterly ashamed and you just want this to all go away.
Regardless of the circumstances, you now have a DUI and you want to know how best to defend yourself. There’s a lot at stake: Your license, your career, your reputation, your insurance premiums. How will you get by without a license? You have so many responsibilities.
If you’re facing a DUI and you’re looking for a lawyer, then you need to find someone who knows the law, has experience, and is good in the courtroom. This is the trifecta of good, effective legal counsel. And that’s what you need right now at a time when the outcome of your case can have drastic effects on your life.
Does your attorney know the law? Thorough report writing, honest police work, evidence, and proper procedures are essential to the State’s case of DUI against you. Unlike other general criminal cases, DUI investigations unfold in stages, and at each stage the proper procedure must be performed.
When the officer contacted you, was it a consensual encounter? Was it a stop based on reasonable suspicion? Or was it a stop based on probable cause for some traffic violation? Does the attorney know the difference between the three, and can the attorney make the legal or factual arguments for you based on that understanding? Does the attorney know the case law distinguishing the nuances of how the court analyzes these questions? All of this knowledge can drastically affect the outcome of your case.
When the officer was in contact with you, did he or she make you any promises for cooperation or threats for not cooperating? Once you were stopped, did the officer have reasonable suspicion to continue to detain you for longer than the original reason provided? When the officer asked you to do roadsides, did they clearly state that they were voluntary? This analysis can drastically affect the outcome of your case.
When the officer asked you to take a blood or breath test, did they have probable cause to believe you were DUI or DWAI? When they read you Colorado’s express consent law to you, did they read it in accordance with the law, or did they read it to you in a confusing way such that your refusal should not be held against you? If you chose a breath test, was the machine suitable and did it conform to all standards set for by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment? If you chose a blood test, were the blood vials properly documented and kept in an approved location and stored at the appropriate temperature? Was a blood vial preserved for a retest? Was chain of custody established, and were all protocols properly followed?
There are many concerns and questions of law that only an attorney that knows the law and has experience can answer and properly litigate for you. Pick an attorney that knows the law.
Finally, talk with the attorney in person or via some audio/video connection. Get a good look at the attorney you’re considering. Does this person look like they would be impressive in the courtroom? If they seem to be a buffoon, stumble over their words, aren’t dressed properly, have coffee stains on their shirt, smell like cigarettes, or smell like booze, how well do you think they will come off to a jury in a DUI case? If the attorney doesn’t seem to have compassion for your situation, but does seem eager to take your money, how hard do you think they’ll work on your case?
Make sure you get the trifecta of legal representation for your DUI case. Here is a little about me.
The best defense is a strong offense. Because I prosecuted DUI cases, I am confident that I can provide the best DUI defense you can get in Colorado. There are no other attorneys with credentials like mine."
By Hampton & Pigott
Posted on 1-18-2021
Everyone has the Constitutional right to an attorney when charged with a criminal offense. The Sixth Amendment provides this protection to any defendant in danger of potential imprisonment. Individuals charged with a crime typically hire an attorney at their own expense. However, those unable to afford legal counsel are entitled to have a court-appointed attorney at no cost. These attorneys for indigent or low-income defendants are known as public defenders.
The rules in the particular jurisdiction will determine the eligibility for a public defender. Generally, the following factors are considered in the appointment of free legal representation: whether an individual is employed, the amount of assets available to individuals, and the relative cost of retaining an attorney in the jurisdiction.
In sum, courts will look at the totality of circumstances to determine the level of hardship a defendant will incur if required to hire private legal counsel. Individuals may submit to the court itemization of personal debt, financial liabilities, including rent, mortgage, child support, and business overhead. Additionally, the gravity of the criminal charges, as well as the probability of the matter going to trial, may factor into the court’s determination of eligibility for the appointment of a public defender.
Sixth Amendment rights are triggered when an individual is confronted with criminal charges which may result in any length of imprisonment. A defendant’s right to a lawyer is based on the possibility of being imprisoned, regardless of the likelihood of the charge being reduced to a fine and probation. Therefore, being cited for a traffic violation or sued in civil court would generally not warrant Sixth Amendment protection. The exception to this rule may be a contempt case where the individual could be punished by the court with time in jail.
Hampton & Pigott are criminal defense attorneys in Colorado and represent defendants in a wide array of cases, including misdemeanors and serious felonies. If you find yourself in a position where you need to seek legal assistance, do not hesitate to give us a call.
By Hampton & Pigott
Posted on 1-7-2021
While the world during COVID-19 might seem confusing and scary, your estate planning shouldn’t be. One of the differences in estate planning, during COVID-19, is the use of remote notarization. Starting December 31, 2020, notaries public will be able to notarize estate planning documents remotely, due to the passage of SB20-96. Typically, attorney’s preparing your estate planning documents will have taken training to be able to notarize documents remotely, with the help of video services, such as Zoom. You shouldn’t be afraid to do your estate planning during these unprecedented times, and being able to do them remotely should make it just a little bit easier.
We have included some key tips to help you if you encounter a situation where you need remote notarization.
Hopefully this makes the process of estate planning a little bit easier amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19.