Rights of the Accused
Denver Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are accused of any crime, you need an experienced lawyer to defend you. Benjamin R. LaBranche is a very skilled criminal defense attorney who litigates criminal matters in federal, state, and municipal courts in Colorado. While he mostly focuses on cases in Denver and surrounding areas, his practice is statewide. Through his work with multiple criminal defense organizations, Ben has gained a reputation across the county as a zealous advocate for his clients and criminal justice reform. Ben LaBranche will work hard to achieve the best possible outcome in every case either through trial, a plea the client agrees to, or a dismissal.
Benjamin R. LaBranche is Nationally Known as Strong Advocate
The highest honor as a criminal defense attorney is to be respected by your peers. Ben LaBranche was previously nominated by other criminal defense attorneys to serve two terms on the board of directors for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). He also currently serves on the board of directors for the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar (CCDB). Prior to practicing law in Colorado, Ben served on the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (LACDL) and was president of the Baton Rouge Bar of Criminal Justice (BRBCJ). He is also involved in other criminal defense organizations, is a member of the National Criminal Defense College (NCDC), and he has done pro bono work for the New Orleans Innocence Project (IPNO). All these organizations are committed to providing training and education to lawyers as well as advocating for criminal justice reform on the state and national level.
Federal Criminal Cases
Federal criminal cases are often the most complex and should only be handled by lawyers with experience in federal court. There are thousands of different federal crimes, but some of the most common deal with white collar offenses, money laundering, drug conspiracies, firearm offenses, sex offender registration, child pornography, and immigration offenses.
Most federal cases are initiated by a grand jury indictment after the government has conducted a very extensive investigation. Federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, and ATF usually lead federal investigations, or federal law enforcement agencies will work with local police as part of a joint operation. After an arrest is made in a federal criminal case, the defendant will receive a detention hearing to determine if they should be detained or released pending trial. In federal court, many defendants are denied pretrial release, but it depends on the charges, their criminal history, and other factors the judge may consider. If pretrial release is granted in a federal case, the defendant may not be required to pay a bond, but their release may require certain conditions such as remaining drug free, not leaving the jurisdiction, and being monitored by the Court’s pretrial services program.
When facing federal criminal charges, a defendant should seriously consider if they want to resolve their case with a plea or trial. In federal court, there is usually a harsher sentence if the client is convicted after trial verses entering a plea. Courts refer to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines when determining a sentence, and the guidelines will recommend a higher sentence if the client does not accept responsibility by pleading guilty and is instead convicted after trial. The guidelines also recommend a sentencing enhancement for obstruction of justice if a client testifies in their own defense and is convicted. Therefore, not only should the decision to go to trial be carefully considered, but so should the defendant’s decision to testify at trial.
If convicted of a federal crime, prison sentences are often imposed even if the defendant is a first-time offender. This is because the federal sentencing guidelines the judges use in determining sentences are very harsh. However, the guideline recommendations are only advisory and the courts are allowed to vary from them. While lengthy prison sentences are often imposed in federal cases, an experienced lawyer can often reduce the amount of prison time or get probation in certain cases by presenting mitigation evidence to the Court.
Mitigation evidence can be anything that shows the court why a lesser sentence should be imposed. Some examples of sentencing mitigation include character letters, completion of drug treatment, the fact that restitution was paid, client’s work history, client’s lack of criminal history, and that the client’s involvement was minimal compared to others involved in the case. The attorney can also present any other information that helps humanize the client to the Court and gain sympathy. Therefore, it is very important for the attorney to get as much information about the client’s background as possible since anything can potentially be used in support of a lesser sentence.
Ben LaBranche is a very experienced federal criminal defense attorney. If you are charged with a federal crime, you should call Ben LaBranche at 225-927-5495.
Colorado State Criminal Cases
Most criminal cases in Colorado are filed in state court and are for violations of the Colorado’s criminal code. Some common state court offenses are homicide, assault, sex crimes, DUI, domestic violence, and theft related cases. State cases in Colorado are either prosecuted by the district attorney for the judicial district where the crime was committed or the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
The defendant is entitled to a bond in almost every state case. While bond is not automatically granted in murder cases, someone accused of a murder is entitled to a hearing to request bond. The judge can also order conditions of bond such as a protection order, GPS monitoring, not leaving the jurisdictions, and drug treatment. The courts will often issue a personal recognizance bond in certain cases and if the defendant does not have a lengthy criminal history. A personal recognizance bond will not require any payment in order to be released, but a monetary bond will. When a monetary bond is issued and it is paid in its entirety, the money is returned to whoever paid it at the conclusion of the case. If the defendant’s family cannot afford to pay the monetary bond, they usually have the option of using a bondsman to pay the bond. Bondsmen typically charge about 10% of the bond amount to get a client released. The 10% paid to the bondsman will not be returned at the end of the case, but it is often worth paying the 10% discounted rate to secure release. If the defendant does not appear in court, a warrant can be issued, and the bond can be forfeited. If a warrant is issued, the client can be rearrested and will have to post a new bond. If the bond is forfeited, the bondsman can seek the full amount from the person who paid the bond. If the client’s family paid the entire amount of the bond and it is forfeited, the money will not be returned to them at the end of the case.
There are many criminal offenses in Colorado state court for which a person can receive a sentence of probation. However, serious offenses such as homicides and most sex offenses are not probation eligible. The court has many sentencing factors to consider when deciding to give probation or impose jail in Colorado state court case. However, the type of offense, offense conduct, and the defendant’s criminal history are usually the main factors courts will focus on. If a client is not probation eligible under Colorado law, or if the court is not willing to impose a probation sentence, a community corrections sentence can be imposed. A defendant will need to be screened to make sure they are accepted into the community corrections program. If they are accepted, the client can significantly reduce their sentence by participating in services such as drug treatment and job training offered by community corrections. They will also be housed in what is typically referred to as a “halfway house” instead of a prison and can often work while serving their sentence. In cases where probation and community corrections are not an option, a prison sentence will need to be served.
Ben LaBranche has handled many cases in Colorado state court and can help you if you have been charged with a state crime. Call him at 225-927-5495 if you need help with a state criminal case.
Municipal Criminal Cases
Many misdemeanor cases will end up in municipal court. Municipal cases involve a violation of that city’s municipal code. Some municipal crimes mirror the state statute. For instance, the Boulder Colorado’s Municipal Code has 3rd Degree Assault statute, and it mirrors the 3rd Degree Assault Statute contained in Colorado’s criminal code. However, municipal codes often contain other misdemeanor offenses that may not be charged in state court such as violations dealing with animal ownership, noise violations, and camping violations. Municipal violations are usually only misdemeanor offenses, but it is still possible to get jail sentences for many municipal offenses. Convictions for minor offenses can also have consequences beyond jail. Having a minor offense on your record can sometimes have immigration consequences, affect employment, and make it more difficult to find housing. Therefore, it is important to have a lawyer assist you in municipal court to make sure you can get the best possible outcome in your case.
Ben LaBranche can help you if you have been charged with a criminal offense in municipal court. If you need assistance with your municipal court case, call Ben LaBranche at 225-927-5495
The Defense should conduct their own investigation, pursue pretrial litigation, engage in plea negotiations, and be prepared to go to trial.
Mitigation evidence is evidence that supports the client’s innocence, reduces their level of culpability, or supports a lesser sentence. Mitigation evidence should be pursued in every criminal case. This is usually done by the defense conducting their own investigation of the case and the client’s background. The defense investigation into the case will often uncover evidence that the police did not find or ignored. Police are supposed to investigate and seek the truth behind what happened, but they often only seek out evidence that supports their theory about a particular suspect. Police usually stop their investigation when they believe they have enough to convict the suspect they believe is guilty. This means that they fail to conduct a complete investigation because there could be other witnesses or evidence out there that is favorable to the defense.
Even if evidence against a client is overwhelming, mitigation evidence that helps support lesser punishment should be pursued. The prosecution and court usually have no idea who the defendant really is. They only know that the defendant has been accused of a horrible crime. However, there may be things in the defendant’s background which humanize him and can help obtain a dismissal, reduction of charges, or favorable sentence. For instance, someone may be guilty of theft, but if they were stealing food to feed their family, that could mitigate the case. Also, if a defendant committed a crime as a result of a drug habit, and they have successfully completed drug treatment after their arrest, that information should be presented to the prosecution and court. Mental health issues may also contribute to the cause of an offender’s conduct, and if so, courts will often take that into consideration that mitigates the offense. Employment and family history can also be helpful. If a defendant is employed and is the sole provider for the family, the courts should also take that into consideration in imposing jail versus probation for a defendant. Character letters from friends, teachers, co-workers, employers, and others are also very useful to the defense. There is almost no limit to the type of evidence that can be used for mitigation, and mitigation evidence should be pursued in every case.
Pretrial litigation involves filing pretrial motions that often challenge the admissibility of evidence based on illegal arrests, searches, or other technical issues that may arise. If successful, this can often result in confessions and seized evidence from being introduced at trial. Sometimes pretrial litigation can result in a dismissal of all charges, a significant reduction in the charges, or a favorable sentence. The goals of pretrial litigation is to get the case dismissed, evidence excluded from trial, or limit the prosecutor’s ability to argue certain issues at trial. Another goal of pretrial litigation is to get witnesses to testify in court prior to trial. There is no better way to prepare a case for trial than to have a prosecution witness testify in a pretrial hearing. It will inform the defense team on how that witness will present evidence to the jury and often times the witness will disclose new evidence that is favorable to the defense. Therefore, successful pretrial litigation can be extremely beneficial since it can highlight the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
The prosecution will make an offer in almost every case. Sometimes the prosecution will make reasonable offers that include a favorable sentencing recommendation, stipulation, or a reduction of charges. There are also times when the prosecution does not make any concessions and wants the client to plead guilty as charged. If the prosecution does not make a reasonable offer, it may be best to go to trial. It is always the defendant’s decision to accept or reject any plea offer. A lawyer cannot force a client to take a plea, but the lawyer is required to communicate every offer made to the client. The decision to plea or face trial can only be made by the client. The lawyer can advise on what they think the best options are, the consequences of a plea vs. trial, and the likelihood of an acquittal. Communication between the attorney and client is extremely important since the client needs to be fully informed of all aspects of the case before deciding to accept or reject a plea.
Most cases are concluded with a plea if it is not dismissed. If a plea or dismissal cannot be reached, the only option is to take the case to trial. The prosecution will present evidence and argue to a judge or jury that the defendant is guilty. However, the prosecution will have to prove that each element of the crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt is the highest burden of proof in the United States. The burden of proof is actually lesser in cases dealing with child custody, car accidents, and personal injury cases. The prosecution in a criminal trial must overcome the presumption of innocence and a conviction cannot be based on a hunch or opinion that is not based on the evidence produced at trial. If you are facing trial, you need an experienced lawyer to be by your side. Ben LaBranche has tried cases in federal, state, and municipal courts, and can help defend you if you decide to go to trial.
Call Benjamin R. LaBranche if You Need a Help With a Criminal Case
If you are under investigation or charged with any crime, feel free to call Ben LaBranche at 225-927-5495 for assistance.
What Is a Domestic Violence Crime? In Colorado, domestic violence crimes are crimes committed against anyone who has had an intimate relationship with the defendant.
Drug possession and distribution offenses are the most common type of offenses in criminal court. In Colorado, drug possession can be a felony or misdemeanor offense.
What Are a DUI and DWAI Crimes? The Colorado DUI law prohibits people from driving a car, bike, boat, or other vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.
Homicide offenses are criminal offenses that result in the death of the victim. In Colorado, murder, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and negligent homicide are all homicide offenses.
Benjamin R. LaBrancheBenjamin R. LaBranche has been a criminal defense lawyer and advocate for criminal justice reform since 2004. He is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Louisiana, and Texas. Since 2020, Ben has been based in Colorado representing clients accused of various crimes in state and federal court.
Call Now!Fill out the contact form or call us at (225) 927-5495
to schedule your consultation.