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Colorado Bail Book: A Defense Practitioner's Guide to Adult Pretrial Release

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2015
78 pages
This manual guides Colorado defense attorneys (defenders), both public and private, in aggressively and consistently challenging a pretrial system that incarcerates defendants prior to a conviction, forces guilty pleas as a condition for pretrial release, and incarcerates those who cannot afford bail.
In 2013, the Colorado Legislature enacted new laws that became the basis for designing a pretrial system that moves away from the use of money bail in favor of individualized determinations and the use of evidence-based predictors. These new laws put Colorado in compliance with national policy recently advanced by the U.S. Justice Department in its statement of interest in Varden v. City of Clanton, which condemned as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the fourteenth amendment the use of set bond schedules that fail to take into account individual circumstances. The manual guides Colorado defenders in using this new State legislation in gaining the pretrial release of their clients. It presents the new risk assessment tool that courts will be using to determine whether to release the accused prior to trial. The research that supports the validity and reliability of the risk assessment tool is also reviewed, and how to use the tool for a client's benefit is discussed. In addition, the manual addresses how to obtain information necessary for the administration of the risk assessment tool. This is followed by a review of the provisions of the new bail statutes and the relevant case law and provisions of the Constitution. Problem areas associated with pretrial release are then considered, such as onerous conditions of pretrial release, the required use of GPS tracking of the defendant's movements, and victims' right to notice of change of pretrial conditions. The manual concludes with an outline of the steps a defender must take to appeal an adverse bail determination, as well as the case law and complaint process regarding bail bondsmen. 10 appendixes with supplementary information, motions, forms, and arguments