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Boulder Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with a crime feels overwhelming and confusing. The criminal justice system in Boulder County processes people without regard to their individual circumstances, personalities and stories.

Often, district attorneys with experience are concerned with moving through their dockets, prosecutors are focused on controlling their caseloads, and the individual people caught in the system are categorized as “defendants,” labeled with a case number and processed. Frequently, people exit the system feeling deprived of their day in court with a jury trial, and angered by the way that they were treated.

At Dolan + Zimmerman LLP, our Boulder criminal defense attorneys will vigorously protect a client and their rights to a fair and just process. To our Boulder criminal defense lawyers, you are more than just a case number, you’re a client that we care about. You are a person who deserves to be treated with dignity. By telling your story to others involved in the justice system, we can help you seek a fair outcome.

Boulder Criminal Defense Resources:

Why Work With A Boulder Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Boulder criminal defense lawyer

  • We will search for solutions to your case from every angle of the law to achieve the best possible results for a client.
  • We are committed to each client and intentionally limit our caseload to ensure we give each case the attention it deserves whether it be a criminal defense or personal injury case.
  • Our team of attorneys in Weld County is available 24/7 for support and assistance in Boulder County. You will never have to worry about accessibility or updates, and we guarantee a consultation.

Benefits of Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney in Boulder

Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor like reckless driving, felony charges, or handed a protection order in Boulder, it is critical to have skilled criminal defense attorneys from a trusted law firm representing you. Once you retain a criminal defense lawyer, we will take a number of steps to develop the best defense strategy for you, such as:

  • Investigating your case, including the facts surrounding your arrest and the available evidence. Depending on the issues you face such as the criminal case, district attorney, and the jury trial, among other factors, your attorney may hire expert witnesses to testify and dispute the evidence against you.
  • Explaining the criminal court process and their defense strategy. Your defense attorney will advise you on what plea you should enter and attend your arraignment, as well as all other court hearings/jury trials with you. They will file any necessary motions, such as a motion to suppress improperly obtained evidence, and will represent you in a jury trial if necessary.
  • Your criminal defense attorney may attempt to resolve your case through a plea agreement with the prosecutor or district attorney to reduce your charges to a lesser offense, reduce your sentence, or both. Hiring a defense attorney with an established name from a trusted trial law firm is beneficial and helps negotiations and proceedings move more quickly.

When it comes to your future and your freedom, hiring an experienced Boulder defense attorney is crucial to the success of your case.

Misdemeanors to Felonies In Boulder

All criminal matters can impact your life in an unpleasant way. At our law firm, we handle numerous types of small and large cases, including:

  • Driving under the influence: Our Boulder DUI dense attorneys handle first-time DUI and DWAI charges, repeat DUI and DWAI charges, felony DUI charges, reckless driving, vehicular homicide charges, and other types of personal injury accidents related to driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Sex offenses: We represent clients charged with unlawful sexual contact, indecent exposure, sexual assault, and other sexual contact offenses. We also handle cases involving accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Sex offender charges carry serious potential consequences and require careful guidance by experienced attorneys.
  • Domestic violence: We have extensive experience in representing clients charged with a misdemeanor and felony domestic violence offenses, and in cases involving protection orders to due domestic abuse.
  • Traffic violations: Traffic violations can trigger serious consequences for your driving privilege. We can help you keep a client and their driver’s license intact.
  • Restraining orders: As soon as a restraining order is filed against you, it is important to seek legal guidance. Our domestic violence legal counsel is skilled in navigating the justice system effectively, especially when it comes to handling protection orders.
  • Drug charges: Colorado authorities take drug and alcohol charges very seriously. Whether you are charged with misdemeanor possession or a felony charge like distribution, our Boulder drug defense attorneys can protect you.
  • Murder defense: We have represented multiple clients who have been charged with many different kinds of violent crimes charges. Our Boulder murder defense lawyers know what is necessary to get charges reduced or dismissed.
  • Post-conviction proceedings: If you have been convicted of a crime and need representation for an appeal, or need information and assistance regarding file sealing or expungement, we can help. If you are facing probation violation proceedings or need assistance with a protection order, we can help with that too.

Criminal charges and convictions following an arrest can have a dramatic impact on professional licensure, immigration status, driving privileges, parental rights, and professional and educational opportunities. They can reduce your ability to lead a productive and dignified life. Our office will work with you to help minimize or eliminate the consequences of criminal defense cases.

A Wrongful Arrest in Boulder Colorado Can Significantly Impact Your Life

An arrest and being charged with a felony crime can be detrimental to your life. For example:

  • It can prevent you from getting certain jobs. Some occupations will not consider you for employment if you are facing a felony charge.
  • Depending on the charge, it may be difficult to open a bank account or take out a loan, impacting everything from starting a checking account to purchasing a vehicle or a home.
  • It can complicate your ability to move or find someplace to live. Property management companies and landlords often complete extensive background checks on prospective tenants.
  • Relationships with friends and family may be ruined by your arrest or charges for a crime. Criminal charges and convictions can also limit your child custody rights.

Trying to get your charges dropped or reduced can turn your life around.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony

In Colorado, criminal charges are separated into three categories following an arrest by an officer. They include infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Infractions are minor offenses such as traffic tickets that typically are penalized with a small fine and no jail time, whereas misdemeanors such as reckless driving and felonies like sexual assault carry severe penalties and are punishable by incarceration.

A misdemeanor charge is a mid-level crime that is a less serious criminal violation than a felony. However, they can still be punished with a jail sentence of up to 18 months in addition to a fine. A felony is the most severe crime that can be charged in Colorado. They carry higher penalties, such as long-term prison sentencing and hefty fines, which are strongly enforced by the district attorney.

Colorado Misdemeanor and Felony Crime Classes and Sentences

Colorado’s criminal code divides misdemeanors into three classes, according to the severity of the allegations and their penalties.

Colorado Misdemeanor Class
(C.R.S. § 18-1.3-501)
Possible Jail Sentence Possible Fines
Class 3 (e.g., theft ($50 to 300), disorderly conduct, prostitution, fourth-degree arson) Up to 6 months $50 to $750
Class 2 (e.g., theft ($300 to $749), second-degree arson, reckless driving, violating a protection order) 3 to 12 months $250 to $1,000
Class 1(e.g., theft ($750 to $1,999), indecent exposure, second-degree forgery) 6 to 18 months $500 to $5,000

Felonies are divided into six different classes.

Colorado Felony Class(C.R.S. § 18-1.3-401) Possible Jail Sentence Possible Fines
Class 6(e.g., pretending to be a police officer, animal cruelty, possessing over 12 ounces of marijuana) 12 to 18 months $1,000 to $100,000
Class 5 (e.g., forgery, refusal to pay child or spousal support) 1 to 3 years $1,000 to $100,000
Class 4 (e.g., manslaughter, identity theft, sexual assault, theft worth $20,000 to $100,000) 2 to 6 years $2,000 to $500,000
Class 3 (e.g., first-degree burglary, first-degree assault) 4 to 12 years $3,000 to $750,000
Class 2 (e.g., human trafficking, racketeering, second-degree murder) 8 to 24 years $5,000 to $1,000,000
Class 1
(e.g., first-degree murder, child abuse causing death of a child under 12, first-degree kidnapping) Life Imprisonment or Death (Capital Punishment) No fine

In extreme or aggravated cases, the punishments may be far more extensive than the ranges listed above. Drug offenses are separately classified in Colorado. Drug felonies are divided into levels according to C.R.S. section 18-1.3-401.5(2)(a) and (b) and apply to offenses committed on or after October 31, 2013.

Colorado Drug Felony Level Possible Jail Sentence Aggravated Jail Sentence Possible Fines
Level 4
(e.g., attempting to commit a level 3 drug felony, possessing a controlled substance (that contains any quantity of GHB, flunitrazepam, ketamine, or more than 4 grams of a schedule I or II substance)
6 to 12 months 1 to 2 years $1,000 to $100,000
Level 3
(e.g., attempting to commit a level 2 drug felony, distributing an imitation controlled substance to a minor (if the adult is at least two years older than the minor))
2 to 4 years 4 to 6 years $2,000 to $500,000
Level 2
(e.g., sale or distribution of materials to manufacture controlled substances, possession of materials to make methamphetamine and amphetamine
4 to 8 years 8 to 16 years $3,000 to $750,000
Level 1
(e.g., selling marijuana to a minor if the person is an adult and is two years older than the minor (over 2.5 lbs of marijuana, or more than 1 lb of marijuana concentrate), selling controlled substances (more than 112 grams and contains methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinone))
8 to 32 years None $5,000 to $1 mil


What Should I Do After an Arrest in Boulder, CO?

Boulder criminal defense attorney

We highly recommend following these tips – before, during, and after an arrest by a police officer in Boulder:

  • Try to remain calm despite stressful circumstances. Acting out erratically or emotionally can make the situation profoundly worse.
  • Listen intently to the arresting office and follow any orders, even if you disagree with why you are being arrested. If you fail to comply or resist arrest, the officer and district attorney may tack on additional charges.
  • You may have heard a police officer saying, “everything you say or do can be used against you in the court of law.” It’s true. Try to remain as silent as possible about your situation. The state can use any admissions of guilt or emotional outbursts to discount your credibility at a later time.
  • Contact a Boulder criminal defense attorney at an established law firm as soon as possible. As soon as you hire representation, they will give you support, peace of mind, and guidance regarding the next steps and throughout the proceedings.

Five Common Legal Defenses for Criminal Offenses

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Boulder

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you may be feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. But it is important to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty, and there may be any number of defenses available to you depending on the facts of your case. Some of the most common legal defenses in general include the following:


An alibi defense means that you were not at the scene of the crime when it occurred. For this defense to be successful, you will need to provide evidence that can corroborate your whereabouts at the time in question. This could include witness statements, credit card receipts, or video surveillance footage. If you have a strong alibi, it may be possible to get the charges against you dropped entirely.

False Accusation

A false accusation occurs when someone is wrongfully accused of a crime they did not commit. This can happen for any number of reasons, including mistaken identity, personal vendettas, or even police misconduct. If you have been falsely accused of a crime, you will need to provide evidence to support your innocence. This could include witness statements, character references, or video footage placing you elsewhere at the time the crime was committed.

Mistaken Identity

Mistaken identity is a specific type of false accusation in which someone is wrongly identified as the perpetrator of a crime. This can happen because of similarities in appearance, incorrect witness identification, or even police misconduct. If you have been misidentified as the perpetrator of a crime, you will need to provide evidence to support your innocence. This could include physical evidence that does not match up with the description of the perpetrator given by witnesses or surveillance footage that shows someone else committing the crime.


Self-defense is a legal defense that can be used if you used force against another person in order to protect yourself from harm. In order for this defense to be successful, you must show that you reasonably believed that you were in imminent danger of bodily harm and that using force was necessary to protect yourself from that harm. You will also need to show that you did not use more force than was necessary to defend yourself. 

In Colorado, there are several laws that allow people to use force in self-defense. For example, Colorado’s “Make My Day” law allows you to use deadly force against an intruder in your home if you reasonably believe the intruder poses a threat to your safety. Colorado also has a “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows you to use force in self-defense if you reasonably believe you are in danger of being harmed, regardless of whether you are in their own home or not. There is no requirement that you must retreat before being allowed to defend yourself. 

When Can You Use Self-Defense?

It’s important to know when you can and cannot use self-defense. Just because you feel threatened does not mean that you have the right to use force against someone else. Generally speaking, you can only use self-defense if someone else is using unlawful force against you or if you reasonably believe that using force is necessary to prevent imminent bodily harm. You cannot use self-defense if you provoked the other person.

For example, let’s say that someone bumps into you on the street and then starts yelling at you. You might feel threatened by this person, but unless they start using unlawful force against you (e.g., hitting you), you would not be able to lawfully defend yourself with physical violence. However, if this same person were to follow you down the street while continuing to threaten or intimidate you, then you might be able to lawfully defend yourself with physical force because imminent harm might be a reasonable belief at this point. 

Self-defense can be a complicated legal defense, so it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before moving forward with this option.

Fabricated Evidence/Prosecutorial Misconduct 

Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of for prosecutors to fabricate evidence against defendants in an effort to secure a conviction. This type of misconduct can occur for any number of reasons, from personal bias to corruption. In some cases, defendants may even confess to crimes they didn’t commit after being coerced by police officers or prosecutors. 

There are many different forms of prosecutorial misconduct, but some of the most common include:

  • Withholding evidence that could exonerate the defendant
  • Failing to disclose conflicts of interest
  • Making false or misleading statements during trial
  • Engaging in inappropriate relationships with witnesses or victims
  • Intimidating or coercing witnesses or victims into testifying falsely

False Confession

A false confession is an admission of guilt for a crime that the confessor did not actually commit. While this may seem like an open-and-shut case of guilt, false confessions are actually quite common. In fact, according to a study by the Innocence Project, around 25% of people who have been exonerated by DNA evidence confessed to crimes they did not commit

So, how does this happen? And what can you do if you find yourself in this situation? Let’s take a closer look.

How False Confessions Happen

There are a number of reasons why false confessions occur. Some people may feel pressured to confess because of the way they are being interrogated by police officers. If someone is interrogated for hours on end, they may eventually say anything just to make the interrogation stop. Some interrogation techniques, such as lying about evidence or making promises of leniency, can be misleading and lead people to confess even if they are innocent. Additionally, some people may have psychological vulnerabilities that make them more likely to falsely confess, such as low self-esteem, mental illness, or a history of trauma, and they may not fully understand the situation and what consequences their confession will have.

What to Do If You’re Facing False Charges

If you’re facing charges based on a false confession, it’s important to seek out legal assistance as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to investigate the circumstances surrounding your interrogation and determine whether there is enough evidence to prove that your confession was coerced or involuntary. In most cases, simply having an attorney present during questioning can make all the difference—so don’t wait to seek out help if you find yourself in this situation.

These are just five of the many possible legal defenses for criminal offenses. If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help determine which legal defense is the best for your case.

Legal Defenses for Driving Under The Influence

Criminal defense attorneys in Boulder

A DUI is a serious offense, but there are some legal defenses that can help you avoid a conviction. Here are some of the most common defenses to a DUI.

The Stop Was Illegal

One common defense to beat a DUI is that the stop was illegal. The police must have probable cause to stop your vehicle. Probable cause can be something as simple as a traffic violation. However, if the police did not have probable cause to stop your vehicle, then any evidence they gathered after the stop may not be admissible in court. This could include the results of any field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests.

The Arrest Was Illegal

Another defense to beat a DUI is that the arrest was illegal. The police must have probable cause to arrest you for DUI. Probable cause can be based on the results of field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests. However, if the police did not have probable cause to arrest you, then any evidence they gathered after the arrest may not be admissible in court.

The Breathalyzer Test Was Administered Incorrectly

Breathalyzer tests are used by police officers to determine a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). However, these tests are often administered incorrectly. If the breathalyzer test was administered incorrectly, then the results of this test may not be admissible in court. 

You Were Not Under The Influence

Just because you were stopped for DUI does not mean that you were actually drunk or impaired. There are a number of factors that can contribute to a false positive on a sobriety test, and there are also a number of ways to challenge the results of a breath test. If you can prove that you were not actually under the influence at the time of your arrest, then the charges against you should be dropped.

Can My Boulder Criminal Defense Case Get Dismissed?

There is no definitive answer as to whether your case can get dismissed since it will depend on your charges and the facts surrounding your arrest. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can develop several legal strategies to persuade a police officer, prosecutor, or district attorney to drop your charges or have them reduced. If you are a first-time offender, the judge may grant a deferred judgment. A deferred judgment means you must first complete various sentencing terms, such as counseling and paying a fine, and then the case will get dismissed.

How Long Will My Boulder Criminal Defense Case Stay on My Record?

It is usually impossible to expunge or “seal” a conviction from your criminal record in Colorado, despite having completed probation. However, there are exceptions for specific offenses, such as municipal violations, crimes involving controlled substances, alcohol, petty offenses, personal injury, and a few others. It is typically a one to five-year waiting period to seal a conviction. Dismissed cases, untried cases, and cases in which you were acquitted are all eligible for a record seal. You can seal your petty or municipal conviction if you:

  • Wait three years to file the appropriate paperwork from the day your sentence is up;
  • Haven’t been charged or convicted of a felony, misdemeanor, or misdemeanor traffic offense in those three years; and
  • You don’t have a commercial learner’s permit or driving permit and are trying to seal a misdemeanor traffic offense.

Some other scenarios where you can petition for a record seal include:

  • Were arrested by a police officer but never charged;
  • Were charged, but the case was dismissed;
  • You were never charged, and the statutes of limitations passed;
  • Acquitted from the crime;
  • Successfully completed a diversion program; and
  • Finished your deferred judgment and sentence

It’s important to note that you cannot seal your record if your charges were dropped because of a plea bargain.

Finding Creative Solutions to Protect Your Future

Boulder criminal defense attorney

Criminal defense lawyers cannot best serve their clients by taking the same approach every time. No two cases are the same. You are not the same as any of our previous clients, and your needs are not the same.

We consider the complete picture when determining the most effective strategy to achieve your goals. We consider how different approaches will not only affect the final outcome of your case but also how they will affect your professional life, your family life, and your future opportunities.

For past clients, we have worked outside the confines of the criminal justice system to find unique solutions. We have successfully negotiated private contracts and helped some clients participate in unauthorized diversion programs instead of facing harsher consequences. We will work tirelessly to find a resolution that supports your unique best interests.

Contact a Boulder Criminal Defense Lawyer

Call us today at 303-593-1874 or contact us for a consultation and to discuss your case with one of our experienced lawyers. You may also contact us online by filling out a contact form.