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.

What is a writ of habeas corpus? | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

Habeas corpus is a method for a defendant to challenge the legality of confinement.

“Habeas corpus” literally means “you shall have the body,” and that is exactly what happens when this writ is requested.  The judge orders the warden of a prison or jail to produce a defendant to the court with proof of authority.  The judge will then determine whether the confinement is legal.

What is a writ? | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

A writ is a court order directed from a higher court to a lower court or government official to comply with specific instructions.  A writ is usually only permitted when a defendant has exhausted all other remedies.  This means that all appeals must be attempted prior to seeking a writ.  Often, defendants use a writ as a means to raise issues not contested in an appeal such as ineffective assistance of an attorney or prosecutorial misconduct. 

Writs can be very complex and typically involve very specific legal details that were not raised during the original appeal.  For this reason, you need a seasoned attorney to assist you in requesting a court to issue a writ.

Will I win my appeal? | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

Appellate courts review a trial court case for errors that may have been committed.  Appellate courts generally respect the decision of the lower court, and only step in if there was an error that significantly contributed to the outcome of the case.  Quite often, errors that are found will be called “harmless.”  In those cases, the appellate court will not disturb the lower court case.  However, in situations where the error is not considered “harmless” the entire case will be reversed.

While appeals can difficult to win, a reversal can lead to a new trial, new sentencing hearing or even a complete dismissal of the charges!

What is an appeal? | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

An appeal is a motion written by an attorney that asks a higher court to review your case.  The higher court is called an appellate court.  The appellate court reviews the motion filed the attorney, and any responses filed by the other side. 

Sometimes, the appellate court will ask for oral arguments to be made.  This is a spoken presentation that an attorney will make in the court.  It is very different from a trial in that the presentation is made directly to the appellate judges, no witnesses are presented, and the judges frequently pose questions for the attorneys.

Once the motions are submitted and the court has heard any oral arguments, it will take the case under advisement.  At a later date, the court will issue a written opinion on the matter.  The opinion is generally a lengthy report from the court reciting its understanding of the facts, the relevant law applicable in the case, an analysis of the law and the facts, and the ruling.

Unfavorable opinions can often be appealed to a higher court, such as the Supreme Court of a state and the United States Supreme Court.

STATE CASES

The Colorado Court of Appeals is usually the first court that reviews cases from district courts, probate courts and juvenile courts.  The decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals is final unless the Colorado Supreme Court agrees to review the case.

The Colorado Supreme Court is referred to as the “court of last resort” in Colorado’s state court system.  This means that this is the last court to review a state case (unless the United States Supreme Court agrees to hear an additional appeal).  The Colorado Supreme Court reviews cases from the Colorado Court of Appeals.  On occasion, the Colorado Supreme Court will hear cases directly regarding a lower court’s decision.

FEDERAL CASES

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is generally the first reviewing court for federal convictions.  This court is based in Denver, and hears all federal appeals from federal courts located in Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, and the portions of Yellowstone National Park that extend into Montana and Idaho.

The United States Supreme Court is the “court of last resort” for federal appeals.  The Court is comprised of nine justices who generally restrict their review to cases involving a conflict of law in the United States Courts of Appeals.  The Court is asked to review thousands of cases each year, and only agrees to examine a few.

Appeals & Post Conviction Writs | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

If a jury returned a “guilty” verdict against you, now is the time to act.  There are several different remedies available to you: 1) ask the judge to overturn the jury’s decision and enter a not guilty verdict; 2) ask the judge for a new trial; or 3) appeal the decision to an appellate court.

The appellate process can be slow and may seem tedious.  However, it is a very necessary and helpful remedy for those who have been wrongfully convicted.

What is an appeal?

Will I win my appeal?

What is a writ?

What is a writ of habeas corpus?