Trial over Thanksgiving Day standoff ends with conviction for Denver man

The Sky-Hi News is reporting that a Grand County jury has found Brian Wilson guilty on all 24 charges stemming from a 2008 Thanksgiving Day standoff with police in Winter Park.  He has now been convicted on 5 counts of attempted murder with deliberate indifference, 6 counts of felony menacing, 2 counts of obstructing police, 3 counts of prohibited use of a weapon, obstructing a highway, driving under the influence and DUI per se.  More significantly, Wilson was convicted on 5 counts of committing a crime of violence, which will enhance the penalties for the attempted murder charges.

Wilson, 53, of Denver, faces 16 – 24 years in prison on each attempted murder count.

Wilson did not hire an attorney from 5280defense.com.

Arapahoe jury convicts sex offender | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

The Denver Post is reporting that Steven Matthew Cook, 42, was convicted last week on 28 counts of sexual exploitation, sex assault, indecent exposure and other charges involving minors.  The incidents took place in Arapahoe County between October 1, 1999 and March 13, 2004 with victims younger than 15. 

Cook was previously convicted and sentenced to 10 years to life in prison in 2006.  An appeals court, however, reversed the original conviction and ordered a new trial, ruling that certain testimony should not have been allowed.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 13, 2010.

Cook did not hire an attorney from 5280defense.com.

Example of burdens of proof in a criminal case | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

It’s a warm summer night and a homeowner has phoned 911 to report a burglary.  The homeowner says the burglar was wearing a mask, sweatshirt, and was carrying a bag.  The homeowner reports a missing DVD player his wife’s necklaces.

Minutes later a police officer observes a man running just two blocks from the homeowner’s address.  The man is wearing a dark sweatshirt and sweatpants, there is mud on his pants and shoes, and he has a bag over his shoulder. The officer now has reasonable suspicion to stop and identify this person.  However, there is not yet enough evidence (probable cause) to make an arrest.

The officer stops and questions the man and learns that he does not live in the area.  The officer observes that the man is visibly nervous and is sweating.  The officer looks inside the bag and sees electronics and jewelry.  The officer now has probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and arrests the man.

A grand jury is later presented with the case.  If they believe that there is probable cause cause, then they will indict the case and send it to the district court.

In the district court, a jury is empaneled to hear the evidence.  To convict, the prosecutor must present enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

A brief overview of burdens of proof | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

Burden of proof is essentially the amount of proof needed to prove something.  The amount of proof changes depending on the type of case.  For example, to convict someone of a criminal offense and strip them of their freedom, you must have proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  This is the most proof required in any legal case—as it should be.

On the other hand, for a civil case where money is at issue, you need a “preponderance” of the evidence.  This is essentially enough evidence to tip the scales of justice only slightly.  Put another way, you will have a preponderance of the evidence if you have 51% of the evidence and the other side has 49%.

In between criminal and civil cases is “clear and convincing evidence”.  This is the amount of proof needed in child custody cases.  It’s less than the proof needed to take someone’s freedom away, but more than needed to win a money judgment against someone.

Burden of Proof | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorneys sometimes glaze over certain terms without making sure you fully understand them.  “Burden of proof” is one of those, and it will undoubtedly arise during your case.  This is one phrase that you must understand because can change depending on the type of case or even the proceeding.  The following is a brief overview of burdens of proof.

Criminal cases are more complicated

Criminal cases have three standards of proof: reasonable suspicion, probable cause and beyond a reasonable doubt.

Reasonable suspicion is the amount of evidence an officer needs to stop someone on the street and ask them questions.  For this, the officer must be able to articulate that a person has been, is, or is about to commit a crime.

Probable cause is the amount of evidence an officer needs to make an arrest.  This means that the officer must have probable cause, which is a reasonable belief that the person has committed a crime. Probable cause is not enough evidence to convict.  It is only the amount of evidence needed to make an arrest.  Probable cause is also the amount of evidence that a grand jury needs to indict a case.  This is why many cases are indicted, but fewer are able to be proven to a jury.

Beyond a reasonable doubt is the amount of evidence a prosecutor must present to a jury to obtain a conviction at trial.

Knowledge Center:

Example of burdens of proof in a criminal case.

Levels of proof chart: The following chart is helpful in explaining the levels of proof.

Love triangle ends in murder conviction | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

The Denver Post is reporting that Norberto Abundez of Ft. Lupton was convicted on Tuesday for the murder of his cousin, Jesus Abundez-Plige.  At the time of the murder, Abundez suspected that his wife and cousin were engaged in a romantic relationship.

Abundez had a previous confrontation with is cousin, and a protective order was issued. That order did not keep Abundez from shooting his cousin in the head at his Platteville home in 2008.

Abundez was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Abundez did not hire an attorney from 5280defense.com.

Willie Clark convicted in murder of Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

The Denver Post is reporting that a jury has convicted Willie Clark in the 2007 murder of Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams.  Clark shook his head sadly as the clerk read the verdict.  He was found guilty of 21 counts, including two for first-degree murder in the drive-by shooting. 

Clark will be sentenced on April 30, 2010.  Insiders expect Clark to receive a life sentence from Judge Christina Habas. 

Clark’s legal problems continue, as second trial is scheduled on charges that he killed a witness in an unrelated case.

Clark did not hire an attorney from 5280defense.com.

I’m under investigation by a Grand Jury | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

Grand juries have the power to conduct investigations.  They have very broad subpoena powers to obtain documents and tangible items.  Often, grand juries subpoena people appear before them to testify.

If you are a witness and refuse to testify, you can be held in contempt and placed in jail.  If you are the target of the grand jury investigation, you have the right to remain silent.

Grand jury proceedings are secret and the testimony heard before them is sealed.

If you are currently under grand jury investigation, it is imperative that you immediately contact an attorney.  A skilled and seasoned attorney may be able to help you avoid being indicted.

I’ve been indicted…does this mean that I will be found guilty? | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

Absolutely not.  A grand jury returned an indictment against you, but never heard your side of the story.  Your attorney never had the opportunity to challenge the prosecutor’s witnesses or evidence.

Most importantly, a grand jury only needs to find probable cause that a crime has been committed.  To convict, a prosecutor will need to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Knowledge Center:

Burdens of proof

Levels of proof chart: The following chart is helpful in explaining the levels of proof.

What is an indictment? | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

An indictment tells you what you have been charged with.  It is presented to a jury at the start of a trial to let them know what the prosecutor must prove.  It is not evidence; it is nothing more than a piece of paper.