July 23, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Erred in Ruling Defendant Knew of Bond Condition Prohibiting Travel

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Donald on Thursday, July 26, 2018.

Criminal Law—Bond Conditions—Failure to Appear—Mens Rea.

Defendant was arrested and charged with a felony. During his court appearance, the judge set bond and announced his court date. Defendant subsequently posted bond and was released from jail. The bond paperwork provided that, as a condition of his release, defendant was prohibited from leaving Colorado without court approval. Defendant failed to appear in court, and he was arrested in Mississippi five weeks later. A jury convicted defendant of knowingly violating a condition of bond by leaving Colorado and knowingly failing to appear for trial or other proceedings.

On appeal, defendant contended that the prosecution failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew of his court date and knowingly failed to appear. However, defendant was present when the court announced the court date, and there was sufficient evidence to permit the jury to reasonably infer that defendant was aware of the court date and that he knowingly failed to appear.

Defendant also contended that the prosecution failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew of the bond condition that prohibited him from leaving Colorado. Here, there was no evidence that the bond condition was announced or discussed in open court; it was set forth only in the bond paperwork. The prosecution failed to present any evidence showing that defendant had personally signed the bond paperwork or that he was otherwise aware of the bond condition that prohibited out-of-state travel. Therefore, the evidence was insufficient to establish defendant’s knowledge of the specific bond condition therein beyond a reasonable doubt.

The judgment and sentence were affirmed in part and vacated in part.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.