May 20, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: DUI, Fourth Offense, is Class 4 Felony Therefore Defendant Entitled to Preliminary Hearing

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re People v. Tafoya on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.

Sentencing and Punishment—Criminal Law—Preliminary Hearings

In this original proceeding pursuant to C.A.R. 21, the supreme court reviewed the district court’s ruling denying petitioner a preliminary hearing when she was charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI)—fourth or subsequent offense, a class 4 felony under C.R.S. § 42-4-1301(1)(a), and was being held in custody on that charge.

The court issued a rule to show cause and now makes the rule absolute. C.R.S. § 16-5-301(1)(b)(II) provides that a defendant who is accused of a class 4, 5, or 6 felony and is in custody for that offense “may demand and shall receive a preliminary hearing.” The legislature amended the DUI statute to provide that DUI is a class 4 felony if the violation occurred after three or more prior convictions arising out of separate and distinct criminal episodes. Here, the complaint and information accused petitioner of committing a class 4 felony and she was being held in custody on that charge. Accordingly, under the plain language of the statute, petitioner was entitled to a preliminary hearing, and the district court erred in denying her request for such a hearing.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Properly Reviewed Count Regardless of Whether Defendants Would Have Been Entitled to Probable Cause Review

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Soto-Campos on Thursday, August 8, 2018.

Criminal Law—Grand Jury Indictment—Probable Cause Review—C.R.S. § 16-5-204(4)(k)—Sentence Enhancer.

The prosecution filed a grand jury indictment against several defendants, including Soto-Campos and Flores-Rosales, for their alleged involvement in a heroin distribution enterprise. Defendants’ attorneys filed motions requesting that the district court conduct a probable cause review under C.R.S. § 16-5-204(4)(k) for count sixty-one, Special Offender—Within 1000 Feet of a School. After review, the court dismissed that count. The prosecution then asked the court to reconsider, arguing that defendants were not entitled to probable cause review of the sixty-first count because it was a sentence enhancer, not a substantive offense. The district court denied the motions.

On appeal, the People contended that the district court erred in conducting the probable cause review because, considering legal principles governing preliminary hearings, the sixty-first count is a “stand-alone” sentence enhancer, and thus not subject to review under C.R.S. § 16-5-204(4)(k). C.R.S. § 16-5-204(4)(k) is not limited to substantive offenses, but instead broadly requires a district court to dismiss “any indictment” based on a probable cause finding that lacks record support. Therefore, the district court properly reviewed the sixty-first count under C.R.S. § 16-5-204(4)(k) and did not abuse its discretion in dismissing this count for lack of record support.

The orders were affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Charge by Information of Class 4 Felony with Crime of Violence Statutorily Entitles Defendant to Preliminary Hearing

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re People v. Austin on Monday, June 4, 2018.

Preliminary Hearings.

Austin petitioned for relief pursuant to C.A.R. 21 from a district court order denying his motion for a preliminary hearing. The supreme court issued its rule to show cause why the order should not be disapproved, and the People responded. The court now makes the rule absolute and orders that Austin be given a preliminary hearing because he was charged by information with a class 4 felony committed as a “crime of violence” as defined in C.R.S. § 18-1.3-406(2)(a)(I)(B) and (II)(C), which statutorily entitles him to a preliminary hearing, whether or not he would actually be subject to mandatory sentencing for a crime of violence.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.