H. Michael Steinberg has over 32 years experience practicing Colorado criminal law. Mr. Steinberg strives to stay current with the ever changing aspects of criminal law issues and updates resulting in his extensive knowledge of successful criminal defense as well as appellate work. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Association, the Colorado Trial Lawyer's Association, and the Colorado and Arapahoe Bar Associations.

Articles Posted in Colorado Drug Crimes

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A March 2012 case decided by the Colorado Supreme Court – People v. Esparza, has held that a drug sniffing dog can smell outside a defendant’s parked vehicle without the police having reasonable suspicion of the presence of contraband, and that such use of the dog does not constitute a “search” under the Colorado Constitution’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

In one fell swoop – the Court ignored a line of cases that required some measure of evidence before law enforcement would have authority to conduct the search. This quantum of evidence is known as reasonable suspicion.

The Facts Of The Case – The Government brought an appeal assigning of the Trial Court’s decision to suppress contraband seized from defendant’s vehicle on two occasions.

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A new Colorado Drug Crime Law is winding it’s way through the Colorado State Legislature. SB 12-163 if passsed by the Senate and signed into law by the governor, would reduce the penalty for possession of four grams or less of certain drugs from a class six felony to a class one misdemeanor, according to a weekly legislative report from Colorado Counties Incorporated.

The penalty for possession of more than four grams of certain drugs would be reduced from a class six felony to a class four felony under the bill’s provisions.

The bill appropriates the savings from the reduction in the criminal penalties to substance abuse treatment programs. The department of human services will develop a trauma-informed substance abuse treatment and best practices training program. The bill requires a post-enactment review after two years that addresses the impact of the bill on jails and the amount of funding for jail-based treatment.

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Once in a great while, the Colorado State Legislature gets it right. Addiction is a disease and compassion is the treatment. Many years ago in Colorado, a law was enacted that gives the judge in a case more power than the prosecutor in drug USE cases. The law, printed below, conveys the authority on a Colorado Judge to find a defendant to be “in need of treatment.”

Upon making that finding, the Court can trump the prosecutor’s power and create what is commonly known as a deferred judgment plea bargain – even over the objection of the prosecutor. Upon successful completion of the deferred judgment, usually meaning drug rehabilitation programs, thelaw mandates the dismissal of the case. It is then eligible to be sealed immediately!

Here is the Law: