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Colorado Criminal Cases

Overview of A Colorado Criminal Case

The case will begin with an alleged violation of a criminal law.  Law enforcement will conduct an investigation which will lead to a summons or arrest for that crime.  If you have reason to believe that you are being investigated for a crime you should seek legal counsel to protect your rights. 


If you are NOT Arrested:

A police officer serves someone with a misdemeanor “Summons and Complaint” listing the criminal charges, which the officer files directly with the Court.  The first appearance of the defendant will be Arraignment and the court date to appear is listed on the Summons and Complaint. 

If you are Arrested:

Arrest is the taking into custody of a person in order to detain him or her to answer for a criminal charge.  A police officer may arrest a person if the officer has an arrest warrant, or if the person committed a crime in the officer's presence, or the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed a crime.  A police officer does not need a warrant to arrest someone he believes committed a crime. 

Classification of Case

Felony Cases

In felony cases, the police can arrest a person on an “investigatory hold” and write a report summarizing the events leading up to the arrest, and send their report and investigation to the District Attorney's Office for consideration of filing of charges. The District Attorney's Office then decides whether to file criminal charges, and what those charges should be.  Sometimes charges are filed before the defendant has been arrested.  In these cases, the defendant is said to be “At Large” until he or she is arrested. 

Misdemeanor Cases

In misdemeanor cases, a police officer arrests the person and serves them with a “Summons and Complaint” listing the criminal charges. 

Bond Setting 

Bond (or bail) is the amount of money, in cash or secured by property or surety (a third-party guarantor of the amount) required by the court to ensure that a person released from custody after arrest will appear at all future court dates 

What is a Bond?


"1st Advisement” is the first time an arrested person is brought to court and takes place very soon after an arrest.  The District Attorney's Office has typically not yet filed charges.  This is a short hearing in which the judge advises a suspect of the charges for which the suspect is being investigated, and their rights, including the right to a public defender, if eligible.  The judge sets bond at this time. 

“2nd Advisement” occurs after the District Attorney's Office files charges.  During this hearing, the judge advises the defendant of the formal charges filed against them.  The judge may also hear arguments to change the bond and therefore this hearing is sometimes referred to as a “bond hearing,” although a bond hearing can also be subsequently held.  A date is set for the next court appearance. 

If there is no arrest and a person receives a misdemeanor Summons and Complaint, the defendant appears in court for the first time for Arraignment.  This is not to be confused with Arraignment in felony cases.

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