April 22, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Imposition of Valid Sentence Ends Criminal Court’s Subject Matter Jurisdiction

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Chavez on Thursday, September 20, 2018.

Criminal Procedure—Post-Conviction Remedies—Search Warrant—Crim. P. 35—Return of Property—Sentencing—Jurisdiction.

In 2004, the police obtained a warrant to search Chavez’s house as part of an investigation and seized evidence they used to charge Chavez in five separate criminal cases, none of which underlie this appeal. In the case underlying this appeal, Chavez pleaded guilty to both sexual assault and kidnapping and was sentenced for those crimes. Three years later, Chavez moved the criminal court for the return of the items seized during the search of his house. The district court denied the motion on the merits.

On appeal, Chavez contended that the district court erred in denying his motion for return of property. The imposition of sentence ends a criminal court’s subject matter jurisdiction, with the sole exception of motions brought under Crim. P. 35. Because a motion for return of property is not authorized by Crim. P. 35, criminal courts do not have jurisdiction over such motions made after sentencing. Thus, the criminal court lacked jurisdiction to address the merits of Chavez’s motion.

The order denying Chavez’s motion was vacated for lack of jurisdiction.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.