Laws on driving and smoking marijuana in Colorado

Can I Legally Drive After Smoking Marijuana in Colorado?

In the state of Colorado, the recreational use of marijuana isn’t just decriminalized, it’s legal. So long as a user is only in possession of one ounce of marijuana or less, and so long as they are at least 21 years of age, the use of marijuana is not against the law. (Possession of one to two ounces is a petty offense.) However, that does not mean that there aren’t conditions to this use.

For example, marijuana is considered to be an impairing substance and, therefore, the use of marijuana before driving may indeed be an offense. Here’s what you should know about your ability–or inability, rather–to legally drive after smoking or otherwise using marijuana in Colorado:

Colorado Laws on Impaired Driving

Per Colorado statutes, it is unlawful for a person to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs of any type, including lawful drugs, such as prescription drugs or, in this case, marijuana. Because you cannot judge your own level of impairment after using marijuana, it is strongly recommended to not drive after consuming/using THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient that results in a “high” sensation.

How Much Can I Legally Use and Drive?

You can be convicted of driving while impaired if you have consumed/used any impairing substance and you are “under the influence” of such a substance and your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is impaired as such. In terms of “how much” marijuana in your blood will serve as an automatic presumption of impairment, the law reads that having five (or more) nanograms of active THC in one’s blood while operating a motor vehicle can result in prosecution for a DUI (driving under the influence) offense. Again, note that even if the level of active THC in your blood is less than this, a police officer may have probable cause to arrest you regardless based on their observed level of impairment.

The prohibition on using marijuana and driving stands both for recreational users of marijuana and users of medical marijuana. Just like an over-the-counter drug, you cannot lawfully use any substance that is impairing and then get behind the wheel of a car.

Determining Impairment

One common question that people who use marijuana have is how a law enforcement officer will even be able to deduce that one has used the drug prior to driving.

  • Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) Training. In the state of Colorado, many of our law enforcement officers have received ARIDE training, which means that they have advanced knowledge of how to detect drug impairment.
  • Blood testing. The other way to determine whether or not an individual has used marijuana is to perform a blood test. While you maintain the right to refuse to submit to a blood test, if you do, your driver’s license will be revoked, and you will automatically be labeled as a “high-risk driver.”

Other Laws Related to Marijuana and Driving

Note that in addition to the law prohibiting impaired driving, whether as a result of alcohol consumption or drug use, Colorado also has an open container law on the books. This law also makes it illegal to have marijuana-related paraphernalia in the car, as well as any open containers of marijuana.

Defenses Against Drugged Driving

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI as a result of allegations that you were operating a vehicle while impaired from marijuana use, you need a skilled DUI attorney on your side. Potential defenses against drug driving charges include a lack of proof that you had used marijuana, an improperly administered roadside sobriety test, an unlawful stop or vehicle search, evidence that you had used marijuana but were no longer under the influence at the time you were driving, and many others. If you are convicted, you can face serious penalties – it is strongly recommended that you seek the counsel of a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible in order to start building your defense and considering your options.

Call Our Colorado DUI Attorneys Today

The laws surrounding marijuana use and driving can be confusing and unclear. But if you are arrested for driving while under the influence of marijuana, one thing is certain: you need a skilled attorney. At the law offices of Anderson & Carnahan Attorneys at Law, our experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyers have worked on marijuana-involved DUI cases and understand what it takes to protect our clients’ best interests. To schedule a consultation with our firm today, please send us a message, visit our law office in person, or call us directly at 719-473-9099.

drinking and driving with child in the car in Colorado Springs

Driving Under the Influence with a Child in the Car: What Are the Penalties?

Driving after consuming alcohol or using another impairing substance can be a serious offense. Indeed, even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is not at or above the legal limit of .08 percent, if you are impaired to the extent that your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is affected, you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

A DUI charge is, in itself, very serious. However, certain actions can make a DUI offense–and the related penalties–even more severe. One of those offenses is committing a DUI with a child in the car. If you have been charged with driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle, here’s what you need to know about the charge and related penalties.

Defining the Crime of Driving Under the Influence with a Child in the Car

Not only is DUI a crime in Colorado, but doing so with a child in the car constitutes child abuse, per Colorado Revised Statute Section 18-6-401, which reads that a person commits abuse of a child when they:

  • Cause an injury to a child’s life or health; or
  • Permit a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that poses a threat of injury to the child’s health.

This means that if you are stopped for DUI with a child in your vehicle, not only will you face DUI charges, but you could very well be charged with child abuse as well. As a note, a child is defined as a minor under the age of 16.

Potential Penalties for Driving Under the Influence with a Child in the Car

First, a review of the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a combination of both, in Colorado:

  • A first-offense conviction could result in jail time of between five days and one year, a fine of between $600 and $1,000, a license revocation period of up to nine months, and the installation of an interlock ignition device for up to eight months.
  • A second- or third-offense conviction for a DUI offense is even more serious. A second- or third- offense could result in jail time of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,500, an indefinite license revocation period, and the installation of an interlock ignition device of up to five years.

In addition to DUI penalties, you’ll also have to deal with penalties for child abuse should you be convicted of that charge.

If the child is not injured as a result of the DUI (i.e., the DUI offense does not result in a car accident and bodily injury to the child), then the offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and an incarceration period of up to one year.

If the child is injured a result of the DUI, the crime is considered a felony offense. If acting with criminal negligence, the crime is a Class 4 felony; when acting knowingly and recklessly, the offense is a Class 3 felony. This could mean up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.

The most serious offense is one in which driving under the influence results in the death of a child. Death caused by criminal negligence is a Class 3 felony; death caused as a result of reckless conduct is a Class 2 felony. A Class 2 felony is penalized by prison time of up to 24 years and a fine of up to $1 million.

Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged for DUI with a minor in the car, you could be looking at jail time, large fines, and a mark against you on your criminal record, which could limit your opportunities moving forward. What’s more, you could also face the loss of custody of or visitation time with your child. When so much is on the line, the wisest thing that you can do is to retain the counsel of a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer with experience representing clients in cases like these.

At the offices of Anderson & Carnahan Attorneys at Law, we are passionate about providing skilled, aggressive defense for our clients. If you are facing DUI or child abuse charges, don’t hesitate to call our law office for an initial free consultation and information about your defense options. Reach us today at 719-473-9099, visit our Colorado Springs office in person, or send us a confidential message using the intake form on our website.

expert testimony in criminal case

How Are Expert Witnesses Used in Criminal Cases?

A criminal conviction could land a Colorado resident in prison for a significant period. But, there’s more. Having a conviction on your record could result in damage to your reputation and a series of other lasting consequences.

If you’ve been accused of a serious crime in Colorado, you must be prepared to face these charges, whether that means negotiating the best deal available or taking the matter to trial. Should you decide to go to trial, you’ll want to make sure that you have the strongest legal defense possible.

One defense method that can be beneficial during a trial is the use of expert witnesses. Colorado law specifies how different types of testimony are admissible in court, and this type of evidence can strengthen your case if used properly.

Expert vs. Lay Opinion Testimony in Colorado

According to the Colorado Rules of Evidence, testimony is separated into two categories: lay opinions and opinions by expert witnesses.

A lay opinion is testimony from anyone who is not considered an “expert.” These are generally people who were at the scene of a crime or who know one of the parties personally. They can give opinions with respect to certain matters based on their observations, but these are not necessarily people with specialized training.

A layperson might testify concerning the identity of a person or a person’s observed state of sobriety. However, they cannot speculate, and the court can decide how much weight to give to this type of testimony.

Expert testimony is different. Experts are people who are asked to testify and provide their opinions about specific matters relative to their expertise. Expert opinion is admissible if the person giving the testimony:

  • Has training, skill, education, experience, or knowledge relevant to the opinion; and
  • Technical, scientific, or other specialized knowledge will help the jury in understanding a fact in issue or the evidence.

How Expert Witnesses Are Used in Criminal Cases

When people think of expert witnesses, they picture someone stepping up to the witness stand and providing testimony. In fact, there are two ways that expert witnesses are used in criminal cases.

  • Consulting Experts. A consulting expert is someone that we work with outside the courtroom to create a strong defense. For example, a consulting expert could provide information that assists with the team’s legal strategy, such as to help determine if a DUI testing machine was calibrated properly. In some cases, the prosecutor won’t know that an expert was consulted in your case.
  • Testifying Expert. A testifying expert is one who your attorney will have ready to testify in court if it becomes necessary. This might be the same person as your consulting expert, but these people should also have certain characteristics. Specifically, they should have prior courtroom experience, be comfortable testifying and dealing with cross-examination, and be able to easily explain complex issues to a jury.

Different Types of Expert Witness Testimony

The assistance of expert witnesses can be essential to the defense of a misdemeanor or criminal charge in federal or state court. There are a variety of types of expert witnesses that are useful in criminal cases, and sometimes more than one will be used. Some of the common types of experts that we use include:

  • Fingerprint analysts
  • DNA experts
  • Medical experts
  • Accounting and finance experts
  • Computer forensic experts
  • Polygraph examiners
  • Firearms experts
  • Toxicologists
  • DUI experts
  • Blood splatter experts
  • Forensic science experts
  • Child sexual abuse/interview experts

Colorado Springs Criminal Defense Lawyers

When you’ve been accused of a crime, you only get one chance to put forth the strongest defense possible. Failing to do so could have grave consequences. At Anderson & Carnahan, Attorneys at Law, we understand the criminal justice system in Colorado Springs and specialize in effective and aggressive criminal defense.

While we may spot issues or problems that can help your case, it has to be an expert that investigates and testifies about them. An attorney can’t testify on your behalf. A knowledgeable expert can sometimes make the difference between a guilty or not guilty verdict and may be able to help get a reduction in charges.

Our firm has established relationships with experienced, respected, and knowledgeable experts in various areas across the Southwest. We will always recommend this approach when it might improve the outcome of your case.

Whether you are facing charges for DUI, drug crimes, white collar crimes, sex crimes, or some other serious matter, our legal team wants to speak with you about your case. Contact our office today at (719) 473-9099 to schedule an initial consultation.

domestic violence attorney in Colorado Springs

What are the Domestic Violence Laws in Colorado?

While a domestic violence charge should not be taken lightly, there is hope for those facing such charges. An understanding of Colorado’s domestic violence laws and a consultation with a criminal defense attorney can help you understand the possible penalties you may be facing and viable defenses to the charges against you.

How Does Colorado Define Domestic Violence?

To begin, anyone facing charges related to domestic violence in Colorado should understand that this type of charge does not necessarily stand by itself. Rather, domestic violence can be attached to other charges if the circumstances warrant. For example, if an individual commits assault, yet the action can also be considered domestic violence because the act of assault is committed against someone with whom the defendant has an intimate relationship, they will ultimately face charges for assault/domestic violence, which carries enhanced penalties.

Ultimately, in order to be convicted on charges of domestic violence, the prosecution must show that the actions of the accused fall within the parameters set forth in the law. Specifically, Colorado law considers domestic violence any “act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.” The law continues on to define an intimate relationship as one involving any of the members of the following list:

  • Current or former spouse;
  • Past or present unmarried couple; and
  • Individuals who are both the parents of the same child, regardless of whether or not they have been married or lived together.

These definitions are extremely important. Unless the prosecution can prove that an act of violence was committed against someone with whom the accused has an intimate relationship, the enhancement of domestic violence must be dropped. Furthermore, the prosecution must also prove that the underlying criminal act occurred. This can be one of the most important defenses to a domestic violence charge. If you are facing domestic violence charges involving a person with whom you do not or did not maintain an intimate relationship, procuring evidence of this fact will be essential to ensuring a successful outcome in your case.

What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence in Colorado?

Charges of domestic violence in Colorado are extremely serious, and as such, the penalties can be severe as well. For one, anyone convicted of domestic violence will first need to consider the penalties for the associated charge. Consider, for example, an individual who is convicted of third-degree assault/domestic violence. Third-degree assault is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Colorado, which carries penalties of six to 24 months behind bars, as well as a fine of between $500 and $5,000. In addition, as a result of the charges of domestic violence, the same individual will likely be required to complete a domestic violence treatment program, may be placed on house arrest for a period of time if their home is not the same as the victim’s, and may be prevented from purchasing or owning a gun.

If you are not sentenced to prison, you will likely be ordered to participate in a domestic violence treatment program. Consider that if you are a habitual offender, which means that you have already been convicted of domestic violence in the past, you can be charged with a Class 5 felony. While a typical Class 5 felony charge would carry a penalty of between one and three years of imprisonment, the presumptive sentencing for both violent crimes and habitual offenders is affected. As such, a Class 5 felony charge for a domestic violence habitual offender carries a penalty of between two-to-six years behind bars.

Let an Attorney Help You with Your Case

The best way to defend yourself against domestic violence charges in Colorado is to work with an experienced criminal attorney. Our lawyers provide aggressive legal representation. Call us now at 719-473-9099 or visit our office today to begin crafting your legal defense to ensure that your best interests are fully protected.

does violent crime increase in summer

Does Violent Crime Increase During the Summer?

You may have heard that violent crime spikes during the summer months but dismissed it as an unproven myth. However, the issue was important enough for the Bureau of Justice Statistics to conduct a research study in 2014 entitled Seasonal Patterns in Criminal Victimization Trends. To no one’s great surprise, the report indicated an increase in several types of crimes when the weather was at its warmest. The main categories indicated by the report include property crimes and violent victimization.

Which Types of Violent Crime Peak During the Summer?

The Bureau of Justice Statistics included the following types of violent crimes among those that occur more often during the summer:

  • Aggravated assault
  • Assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Robbery
  • Simple assault
  • Victimization involving a weapon
  • Violence resulting in injury

As this report proves, an increase in violent crime during the summer is a real phenomenon. It can be as much as 12 percent higher than the other three seasons. We will explore some of the possible reasons for this below.

Higher Temperatures Mean More Opportunities for Crime

The higher the temperature climbs, the more likely people are to open their windows to let in some cool air. Not everyone can afford air conditioning or likes the way that it feels. However, open windows and even doors increase a person’s vulnerability to crime. People also spend more time outside and away from home. If they leave their doors unlocked or tell a lot of people about their plans, anyone left at home could become the victim of a violent crime.

The sun can rise as early as 5:30 a.m. in Colorado Springs during the summer and not set until nearly 9:00 in the evening. Having more than 15 hours of available daylight means that more people are outdoors or traveling and not at home. In an area known for year-round tourists like Colorado Springs, the higher number of people outdoors in the summer increases the likelihood of a violent crime taking place.

Another factor contributing to summer crime rates is that students are not in school for the summer and may find destructive things to do with their free time. Others feel that high temperatures alone can make people feel uncomfortable and aggressive.

Excessive Temperatures Drive People Indoors

Despite all of the above factors, even people intent on committing a crime know when to go inside. An article published by Medical Daily indicates that criminal activity drops off once the outside temperature consistently reaches 90 degrees. It seems that it’s too uncomfortable for anyone to be outside so people retreat to air-conditioned comfort if they can.

Possible Solutions to Summer Crime Spikes

Colorado Springs isn’t the only community in the United States that struggles with this issue. The larger the city, the more it deals with an uptick in violent crime during hot weather. Several communities have discovered that offering more activities to keep youth busy can help to thwart this problem.

Cities have also begun looking at whether those who with a previous conviction for a violent crime receive close enough supervision, whether on probation or not. Making cooling more affordable for everyone by offering energy assistance grants is yet another solution that the governments of large cities have considered to reduce this troubling trend.

Have You Been Charged with a Violent Crime in Colorado?

It’s somewhat of a catch-22 situation. Police officers expect violent crime rates to go up in the summer, so they become extra vigilant in looking for it. Unfortunately, that means they could arrest a person who was simply defending himself or herself, was set-up as the fall guy by another party, or who has another legitimate defense against a violent crime charge. Perhaps this has even happened to you and you’re not sure where to turn.

The criminal defense attorneys at Anderson & Carnahan, Attorneys at Law, have more than five decades of aggressively defending people charged with violent crime in Colorado Springs and the surrounding communities. We are happy to offer you a free consultation to learn more about the charges against you and let you know how we can help. Please contact us at 719-473-9099 to schedule your complimentary consultation today. The longer you wait, the more time the prosecution has to build a case against you.