One of the most serious categories of crimes in the State of Colorado is sexual offenses. The possible penalties for these types of offenses are often severe. This is because many crimes of a sexual nature carry the possibility of a lifetime in prison.
It is very important to handle these cases carefully and beware of the possible penalties any guilty plea or conviction after trial may carry. It is crucial to have an attorney who not only understands the written law but also the practical implications and realities in this state. For example, any attorney should be able to review the written laws and know that when a judge sentences a person for a sexual offense to prison, the judge states a minimum sentence the person must serve, and also states that the person may serve up to the person’s natural life. An average lawyer should know that this means that the person will have to serve the minimum prison sentence before being eligible for parole, and that after serving the minimum sentence it will be up to the parole board (and not the judge) to determine when, if ever, the person will be released from prison. However, only an attorney experienced in the area of sexual offenses is likely to know that the parole board rarely ever lets people out of prison, though there is a trend in increasing numbers of release in more recent years.
As you can imagine, the experience of an attorney with the knowledge of the practical reality of the number of years a sexual offense defendant is likely to serve is crucial. An inexperienced or even average attorney reading the law may inform their client that they simply have to serve the minimum sentence offered in a plea bargain, and then convince the parole board to let them out afterward. An experienced attorney will caution against accepting such a plea agreement without serious thought and reflection, and perhaps not at all, given the practical reality that this plea agreement has a great chance of leading to the person serving the entirety of his or her natural life behind bars, without any realistic possibility of parole. The inexperienced or average attorney practicing in the area of sexual offenses may harm his or her client by not being aware that the sentence is usually actually life in prison, and the minimum number in the judge’s sentence often means nothing, practically speaking.
Additionally, sexual offenses have more collateral consequences than most other offenses. While many offenses can lead to a criminal record and future employment consequences, examples of additional collateral consequences of a sexual offense are sex offender registration and sometimes restrictions on areas in which a person can live.
Therefore, when hiring an attorney to defend against sexual offenses it is important to be sure that the attorney has practical experience in defending against these types of charges and knowledge of not just direct consequences but collateral consequences as well.