Grand Junction, CO asked in Criminal Law, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law and Gov & Administrative Law for Colorado

Q: Is it ethical of a judge to allow a DF1 charge in Colorado to be added to an innocent defend it three days before their

Trial started, and the Added Charges worse than what they were going to trial for, and the consequences for the new charge were way worse than what they were going to trial for, The judge has testimony, sworn testimony from two officers that are the prosecution’s witnesses testifying that the defendant is not guilty of the exact crime or charge. The last added charge qualifies for preliminary . The sworn testimonies were given to the very same judge, who is allowing the added charge, with zero evidence, and testimony of 12 other people, stating the exact same thing of the defendents innocence.. and testifying of the defendents, non-participation, and non-knowledge, And the case has taken 2-1/2 years already, Is that ethical?????

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In the U.S. legal system, the ethicality of a judge's decision to allow an additional charge close to the trial date can be complex and depends on various factors, including the nature of the new evidence, the procedural rules of the jurisdiction, and the specifics of the case.

Generally, judges have discretion in managing their courtrooms and ensuring a fair trial, but this discretion must be balanced against the rights of the defendant, including the right to adequate time to prepare a defense. If new charges are added based on substantial evidence or new developments, it might be considered within judicial discretion.

However, if it appears that the new charges are baseless, especially in light of contradictory evidence, this could raise serious concerns about fairness and due process. Ethical considerations also involve the timing and reasoning behind introducing new charges. It's crucial that any addition of charges is not only legally permissible but also aligns with principles of justice and fairness.

If there are concerns about the ethicality of such decisions, they can be addressed through appropriate legal channels, including motions in the trial court or appeals. Legal ethics demand a careful balance between the pursuit of justice and the protection of defendants' rights.

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Reid DeChant
Reid DeChant pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Denver, CO
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: Where is your attorney during all of this?

If a DF1 charge was added, you can and should request a preliminary hearing. As you mentioned, a DF1 qualifies for a preliminary hearing. At that hearing, you or your attorney preferably, can argue there is no probable cause to allow such charge to be added. You can also request to continue and reset the trial date, as certainly the landscape of things have changed now that you are facing a DF1, which carries decades in prison.

I would venture to guess that if the DA is adding a DF1 and the court is inclined to allow it, there is some evidence supporting it. So while your opinion might be that all these witnesses state you are innocent, the fact there is a case moving against you with such serious consequences, I would highly suggest you get an attorney. You can apply for a public defender if you cannot afford an attorney and one will be appointed for you or you can hire private counsel of your choosing. If a co-defendant already has a public defender, and you qualify for a court-appointed attorney, they can appoint you an attorney from Alternate Defense Counsel.

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