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Should non-violent felonies result in jail time?

One Colorado District attorney is advocating for a change in how some arrests are made or are not made throughout the state. Some counties and jurisdictions are already opting to follow his advice on how to process alleged offenders for non-violent felonies. He has advised that officers use discretion and choose to issue summons to appear in court for some non-violent felonies versus a traditional arrest.

The attorney and the jurisdictions promoting the new policies are operating under current Colorado law. Advocates for the change point to a recent study that shows that if arrested individuals spend more than 24 hours in jail, they have a 40 percent chance of committing an additional crime before the trial of their first crime. In addition, a traditional arrest, booking and jail time can alter the course of an individual's life whether a conviction is or is not made at a trial. Individuals risk losing jobs, reputation and may face trouble with relationships.

Pilot programs have occurred throughout the state with success. In addition, with the new policy being in the best interest of some defendants, it is often cost-effective for the State of Colorado. According to a study, 63 percent of people incarcerated in 2015 were awaiting a trail and had not been convicted of the alleged crimes and charges. Eliminating jail time for some non-violent offenders could reduce the amount of money needed to maintain individuals in jail.

When individuals are placed under traditional arrest, it may be easier to understand the need to acquire the services of a criminal defense attorney. It is important that individuals who are issued a court summons for felonies also secure the advice of the right Colorado criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can advise the best approach for all court hearings and help an individual understand the best defense strategy based on the collected evidence. 

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