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Boulder Criminal Defense Blog

Liberty's Last Champions

The core concepts of our freedom, the presumption of innocence and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt are in jeopardy. Over the course of a 40+ year career talking to juries I had been confident that the women and men that served believed in these core values.

Of course, individual jurors allowed racial, ethnic or religious prejudices to interfere with their duty to honor these concepts. But by and large the vast majority of jurors put their faith in these ideals and honored them.

Are marijuana sniffing dogs a thing of the past?

Detection dogs are trained to use their senses of smell to perceive a variety of substances. Commonly used by law enforcement to sniff out the presence of illegal narcotics, the canines have come under controversy in Colorado, a state that legalized a once prohibited drug six years ago.

The issue has three key aspects: how courts have defined a dog sniff, how detection dogs are trained and the complex relationship between state and federal laws.

New drug policies heavily affect local college students

Parents in Colorado have a reason to rejoice as Gov. Pollis signed a new bill into law which "de-felonizes" possession of several common drugs and reduces sentencing for drug misdemeanor charges in 2020.

Why does this new law appeal to parents? The primary purpose of the law encourages treatment over "criminal punishment" or incarceration. Ultimately, it benefits addicts and college students who possess specific controlled substances, such as ecstasy.


With the passage of Initiated Ordinance 301 by a slim margin, Denver has become the first city in the United States to "decriminalize" the personal possession and personal use of "magic mushrooms"- that is, fungal matter that contain the hallucinogenic compound psilocybin, psilocin, baeocystin, or nor-baeocystin. The new ordinance went into effect with the certification of the vote passing the ordinance on May 16th, 2019.

But supporters of the ordinance should be careful before planning their next "trip" to a summer concert. While the new law changes aspects of enforcement, decriminalization is still several steps away from complete legalization. Those who plan to explore their newfound freedom should know a few key things about what Initiated Ordinance 301 does (and doesn't) do.


Colorado has taken yet another step towards sensible, progressive drug policy with Governor Pollis signing into law House Bill 19-1263, which "de-felonizes" the mere possession of many common drugs and modifies the sentences for drug misdemeanor charges to focus on treatment rather than punishment.

House Bill 19-1263 follows in the footsteps of other recent reforms, such as the creation of "Drug Felony" and "Drug Misdemeanor" offenses in 2013 and provisions that encourage treatment over incarceration and allow drug convictions to be sealed. These laws come in response to a growing national consensus that the criminalization of drug use and addiction turns addicts in need of treatment into criminals with a record that prevents them from gaining the employment, education, and housing necessary for recovery and re-integration into society.

House Bill 19-1263 changes Colorado's drug laws in several key ways.

Crime and punishment… and more punishment

Punishment for a misdemeanor or felony criminal conviction continues long after completion of a probationary sentence or jail term. Presently the consequences of a criminal record can last a lifetime when they show up on background checks long after those regrettable events occurred.

Starting over comes with overwhelming challenges. Finding a job, leasing an apartment, applying to school and passing a background check can involve obstacles that are insurmountable.  

Marijuana Enforcement on 420

The morning news today featured the picture of a large, beautiful green marijuana leaf shining in the sunlight. Tomorrow is 420 and colorful banners were flying in advance to commemorate the celebration. Even Carl's Junior is getting into the act with their new 420 burger with CBD oil. Looks delicious by the way! No doubt the crowds will be enormous at that restaurant.

Facial recognition technology: Is anyone smiling for the camera?

Law enforcement has come a long way in determining the true face of a criminal suspect. Sketch artists were once the sole source of depicting unique facial characteristics based on witness accounts. While still a valuable tool, modern technology has created a more efficient and accurate way of identifying potential perpetrators.

To claim that the retail industry is competitive would be an understatement. The Targets, Walmarts and other retailers large and small are engaged in a constant battle for supremacy. Yet, in spite of that quest for dominance over one another, a single issue unifies them and puts them all on a level playing field.

Tests for driver’s THC levels are not always accurate

Earlier this fall, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Loss and Prevention reported that the number of motor vehicle accidents has increased in states that legalized the recreational use of marijuana. The institute determined its findings by comparing car accidents, police reports and insurance claims in four states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and four neighboring states that have not.

According to the report, there was between a 5 and 6 percent increase in car accidents in the states that were studied, including Colorado. As a result, Colorado law enforcement is taking a strict stance on drugged driving.

What are the consequences of a drug charge during college?

Occasional or repeated drug use is extremely common during college. Some students use drugs throughout their undergraduate years, somehow able to fly under the radar. Others may simply be in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Regardless of circumstance, a drug charge could result in long-lasting consequences. 

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