Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Colorado DUI Laws to learn more.
Denver Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyers » Murder in the First Degree
Under Colorado law, first-degree murder comprises deliberate and intentional killing as well as killings resulting from risky behavior exhibiting extreme indifference to human life. This differs from second-degree murder, defined as knowingly causing the death of another person or as felony murder, which is killing someone in the perpetration of certain serious felonies.
In Colorado you also commit first-degree murder when:
In Colorado first-degree murder is punished by life imprisonment.
And if the victim is a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services provider engaged in the performance of his or her duties, you cannot legally be granted parole (other than by a Colorado governor’s pardon).
If you or someone you know is charged with Colorado murder in the first degree, it is imperative you retain an experienced lawyer right away. The best Colorado criminal defense lawyers will protect your rights and start looking immediately for evidence that:
To help you better under the crime of murder in the first degree, our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:
Section 18-3-102 (1) C.R.S. of the Colorado criminal code provides:
A person commits the crime of murder in the first degree if:
Section 18-3-101 C.R.S. of the Colorado criminal code provides definitions for some of the terms in Colorado’s first-degree murder statute. 18-3-101 C.R.S. provides:
As used in this part 1, unless the context otherwise requires:
An act committed after deliberation is never one that has been committed in a hasty or impulsive manner. However, the length of time required for deliberation is not long. All that is required for deliberation is enough time in which to form the intent to murder someone.2
Example: Joe lives in a dangerous neighborhood. One evening he goes out, carrying a gun in his waistband for self-protection. While he is walking down his street, he gets into a heated argument with his neighbor Kurt. Kurt provokes Joe, who pulls out his gun and uses it to hit Kurt in the head, thereby committing an assault in the heat of passion.
However, even as Joe pistol-whips Kurt, the argument escalates. Finally, Joe erupts. “I’ve had enough of your mouth,” he says. He cocks the pistol, aims it at Kurt’s heart and pulls the trigger.
Even though the beating itself was not premeditated, and Joe wasn’t carrying the gun with malicious intent, Joe may still be guilty of first-degree murder. A jury could find that his words to Kurt, as well as the act of cocking the gun and his aiming for Kurt’s heart, show that Joe had sufficient time to deliberate his actions and form the requisite malice.3
The difference between first and second-degree murder is one of express malice, sometimes referred to as “extreme indifference,” “cold-bloodedness” or “aggravated recklessness.”
Express or universal malice is indicated by conduct showing an extreme lack of care and concern for the value of human life generally. It is considered more blameworthy than other forms of killing and is, therefore, punished more severely.4
Example: Lee’s gang gets into a fight with another gang. Later that night, Lee decides to shoot up the house where two of the rival gang members live. So he drives by and sprays the house with from an assault rifle and the mother of the two gang members, who is inside at the time, is killed. Because Lee did not intend to kill the mother, but rather acted with extreme indifference to the lives of anyone who might be inside the house, a jury could find Lee guilty of first degree murder.5
Generally, malice is implied only when a homicide is committed by use of a deadly weapon or instrument in a manner likely to result in death.
Fists and feet are not usually classified as deadly weapons since they are not likely to produce death under ordinary circumstances.
Thus where death results from an attack made with hands and feet only on a healthy adult, the law will not usually find malice, because ordinarily, death would not result from a beating.
However, where the victim is particularly vulnerable – for an instance a young infant or an enfeebled older person – bare hands can be considered a deadly weapon.
Ordinarily, communications between you and a spouse or you and your doctor are privileged and cannot be used against you in a legal proceeding.
However, 18-3-102 (4) C.R.S. provides:
The statutory privilege between patient and physician and between husband and wife shall not be available for excluding or refusing testimony in any prosecution for the crime of murder in the first degree as described in paragraph (f) of subsection (1) of this section.
The penalty for Colorado murder in the first degree is life imprisonment.9
The best defense against first-degree murder depends on the facts of your case. It may be that you are entirely innocent of the charges or that your actions were legally justified. Or possibly you did not possess the requisite intent for murder one and are guilty, if at all, of a less serious charge.
An experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney has many ways in which to help you beat the charges or get them reduced. Some of the most common include (but are not limited to):
Most deadly weapon deaths do not have witnesses. As a result, the evidence used to convict people is often largely circumstantial. Reasons the evidence against you could be faulty might include:
Research suggests that the most common cause of wrongful convictions is mistaken identity.9 Even the most well-intentioned and honest eyewitness can make mistakes due to a variety of factors, including:
Experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyers have a number of ways to challenge eyewitness accounts. These can include (without limitation):
The burden is on the prosecutor to prove each and every element of a Colorado first degree murder charge beyond a reasonable doubt. That means the prosecutor must prove you acted with universal malice / extreme indifference to human life generally.
If the killing was accidental, you didn’t have the requisite intent for first-degree murder. Ways your Colorado defense lawyer death can show that did not have the required malice include showing that:
Example: Nancy keeps a gun in her apartment for self-defense. Late one night, when she is not expecting anyone, there is an incessant knocking at the door. Nancy picks up the gun, cocks it, and answers the door. A man she doesn’t know is standing there. Afraid, Nancy points the gun at him to scare him and it accidentally goes off. Because she didn’t intend to harm anyone, she is not guilty of first-degree murder.
Under Colorado law, self-defense is not an affirmative defense in itself to first-degree murder charges. However, it may negate the element of extreme indifference required to sustain them.11
Likewise, showing that you were acting to defend someone else is strong evidence that you did not kill someone with extreme indifference to the value of human life generally.”12
Example: Penny’s boyfriend has, in the past, when he has been drinking heavily, committed acts of violence against Penny’s young son. After the boyfriend comes home drunk one night and raises his fists to her son, Penny shoots and kills him. Assuming she acted in a good faith belief that her child was in danger, Penny has not acted with the extreme indifference required for a first-degree murder charge. She may still be liable on a lesser charge, however, depending on other factors – such as whether the degree of force was reasonable under the circumstances.
So-called “battered woman” syndrome is not itself a defense to a murder charge. But it can be considered in the context of self-defense.
To successfully argue battered woman (or battered spouse) syndrome, it is necessary that you were in imminent physical danger at the time of the killing. If, for instance, the victim was asleep at the time of the killing, the defense is unlikely to be successful.13
In their eagerness to find a suspect and obtain a conviction, the police and prosecutor sometimes cut corners. If your rights to a fair trial are compromised in any way, a top Colorado criminal lawyer can move to have evidence obtained as a result of improper procedures excluded. This can result in the prosecutor being unable to prove a necessary element of first-degree murder, or even in the case being thrown out entirely.
Possible violations of your rights include (but are not limited to):
Colorado murder law allows the defendant to a murder charge to plead “not guilty by reason of insanity.” Once plead, you do not need to prove that you were insane at the time of the alleged crime. Rather, the burden shifts to the prosecution to prove that you were sane.
The definition of insanity in the legal system is different than it would be in a doctor’s office. You are only considered insane for purposes of a murder charge if, as a result of a mental disease or defect:
An example of the difference can be seen in the case of James Holmes, who was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing a large number of people in a Colorado movie theater.
Although two defense psychiatrists testified that Holmes lacked the mental capacity to tell right from wrong, two court-appointed psychiatrists disagreed. They testified that although Holmes had severe mental illness and schizophrenia, it did not rise to the level of legal insanity. As evidence, the prosecution pointing the meticulous planning of the act — the choice of time, location, weapons and execution as well as diaries Holmes kept explaining his actions.
You are not entitled to use the insanity defense if the reason for your inability to distinguish right from wrong resulted from voluntary intoxication.14
If you or someone you know has been charged with Colorado murder, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. Our Colorado criminal defense attorneys understand how the police and prosecutors investigate, charge and prosecute Colorado homicide cases. We know where to look for errors, affirmative defenses and holes in the prosecution’s case.
Don’t spend life in prison because you didn’t know who to turn to. Use the confidential form on this page to contact us or call us at our centrally located Denver home office. One of our caring Colorado criminal lawyers will get back to you quickly to discuss your case and help you start planning your defense.
Communities our criminal attorneys serve include, without limitation, Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Thornton, Arvada, Westminster, Centennial and Boulder.
In Denver we can be reached at:
Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol carries 12 DMV demerit points in Colorado. DWAI carries 8 points. And UDD (underage drinking and driving) carries 4 points. In addition to adding points to the defendant’s driving record, a DUI or UDD causes an automatic license suspension. A first-time DWAI case does not cause the ...
Before 1974, Colorado’s definition of first-degree murder under 18-3-102 C.R.S. included the language that the alleged murderer acted “with premeditated intent to cause death…” Now the language is that the alleged murderer acted “after deliberation and with intent to cause death…” Essentially, they mean the same thing: That first-degree murder in Colorado requires the killer to ...
Colorado gun magazines may hold a maximum of fifteen (15) rounds. Anything that holds more than 15 rounds is considered a large-capacity magazine (LCM), which is illegal in the state under CRS 18-12-302. Possessing or selling an LCM is usually a class 2 misdemeanor, carrying up to 120 days in jail and/or up to $750 ...
A medieval word, an ancient crime The word “blackmail” dates back to the 16th century and possibly earlier. As originally used, mail probably referred to rent paid to a landlord. When paid in silver, mail was known as reditus albi or blanche firmes – in English “white” (silver) mail or rent. Reditus nigri – “black” mail ...