Bail Reform in Colorado


Many criminal defense attorneys and criminal justice experts agree that pretrial detention leads to a host of negative consequences for defendants, such as lost jobs, lost housing, divorces, damage to parent-child relationships, and much more. Evidence has shown that those defendants who languish in jail awaiting their trial:

  1. Plead guilty more often,
  2. Face more prison sentences, and
  3. Receive harsher sentences than those who are released pending trial.

One of my priorities as a criminal defense attorney is to avoid pretrial confinement at all costs, but this should also be the priority of all criminal court systems nationwide. And in recent years, more courts have been moving away from money bail that is set through a “bail schedule” and instead, judges in many jurisdictions are moving toward making individual determinations. Just because one defendant has money to post bond, it does not mean that he or she will comply with court requirements.

Colorado Enacts New Laws

In 2013, Colorado lawmakers adopted new laws that are advantageous to defendants. But in recent years, a handful of judges have taken it a step further. In light of the jail overcrowding and constitutional issues, a few judges have gotten rid of cash bonds for people who are booked in jail before their trial.

Here’s just one example: On January 23, 2018, Allison Sherry wrote for Colorado Public Radio: “Boulder’s presiding judge Linda Cooke has mostly eliminated money bonds in her court. She is also working on different ways to get vulnerable populations — including the homeless — back to court so they don’t have a “failure to appear” on their record. This can spark a warrant for arrest.”

Suggested Reading: Adult Diversion in Denver

If you are facing criminal charges in the Greater Denver Area, I’d be more than happy to discuss the most recent changes to the bail laws and how they might impact you and your case. To learn more, please contact my firm to schedule a free case evaluation.