Child Abuse Charges in Colorado for second and subsequent offenses

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When you are facing subsequent charges for child abuse, you may be wondering whether the previous conviction will be used against you to hurt you in the new case. Typically this type of information will not come in unless it can be shown that there is another reason for presenting the evidence other than to attack your character. For example, the evidence of the prior may come in to show a motive or a common plan or occurrence.

Recently, in the courts, an issue has arisen as to whether the prior is an element that the prosecutor must prove in order to show that this is your second or subsequent offense.

It turns out that the courts do not consider the proof of a second or subsequent offense to be a material element of the crime. Rather, the courts see it merely as a sentence enhancer. This is important because it keeps proof of your prior away from the jury until after they decide whether you are guilty or not guilty of the offense that you are being charged with. Then, if the jury finds you guilty, only then can the jury be allowed to know of your prior offense.

Because the court of appeals in Colorado has made it clear that priors cannot are not part of the new crime itself, you should expect prosecutors to try harder to bring in the evidence as proof of a motive or common plan. The prosecutors will do this, even when they do not believe it is part of a similar motive, because they are trying to smear your character in front of the jury. They know that if this evidence comes in, it is much more likely that the jury will find you guilty of the new offense. This type of character smearing happens all the time in Colorado courts and, as such, it is important that you talk about your priors with your Denver Criminal Defense Attorney to discuss the details of your prior and how they relate to your new case and how they are different from your new case.

Only by speaking with your attorney can you get a better idea of whether the prosecutor will be able to use your prior to smear your character and falsely convict you of the new crime.

If you have any questions about how priors can be used against you in a child abuse case and how you and your Colorado attorney can try to keep them out of your criminal case, you should contact Mountain Legal and schedule a free consultation.

The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as the creation of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney.

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Nathaniel has worked in criminal law on both sides of the aisle spending time working for the prosecution as well as the defense. Most recently Nathaniel has represented individuals in violent felonies and drug cases. Prior to this work, Nathaniel handled DWIs, Domestic Violence Cases, Property Crimes, and White Collar Crimes. On the prosecutorial side, Nathaniel has most notably worked in Bosnia helping to prosecute individuals who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Bosnian War from 1993-1995. In particular, Nathaniel helped in the prosecution of military leaders who arranged for the organized murders and rapes of innocent civilians in various towns in Bosnia. Nathaniel is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Northwestern University, and Phillips Exeter Academy. Google Profile: Nathaniel Baca