Colorado Public Defense

Public defense issues and developments in Colorado

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In partnership with the Colorado Criminal Defense Institute and the Colorado State Public Defender and supported by a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, in September 2015 NACDL published The Colorado Bail Book: A Defense Practitioner's Guide to Adult Pretrial Release. The Manual is designed to be a resource to aid Colorado defenders in building upon the legislative reforms to the state's bail practices enacted as part of HB-1236, Best Practices in Bond Setting.

In 2018 NACDL Supplemented these materials with 2 video components: an overview of bail practices in Colorado and a panel discussion highlighting challenges and innovations for bail practices in rural communities.

View Colorado Bail Videos More on Pretrial Advocacy


In 2010 NACDL worked with the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar and the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition to overturn Colorado Revised Statute § 16-7-301(4) which required a defendant to meet with a prosecutor before being considered for appointment of counsel.

Under the statute, when charged with a misdemeanor, petty or traffic offense, an indigent defendant’s “application for appointment of counsel and the payment of the application fee shall be deferred until after the prosecuting attorney has spoken with the defendant.” The statute further required prosecuting attorney to “tell the defendant any offer that can be made based on the facts as known by the prosecuting attorney at that time” and permitted prosecutors to “engage in further plea discussions about the case,” all while the accused was without counsel. In fact, the statute placed the responsibility of advising the defendant they had “the right to . . . seek appointment of counsel” upon the prosecutor.

While the lawsuit challenging the statute as a violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments was pending in the US District Court (Colorado Criminal Defense Bar v. Hickenlooper), the Colorado legislature repealed the statute, eliminating the requirement an accused speak with the prosecutor before they are able to seek the appointment of counsel and appropriated $8 million dollars to hire additional public defenders to meet the increased workload.

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Colorado Public Defense in The Champion

Bright Spots in Public Defense: The Colorado Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel: Supporting Indigent Defense Through a Statewide Conflict Counsel System, by Kevin Bishop, Darren Cantor, Stacie Colling, Lindy Frolich, and Jonathan Rosen, The Champion, Jan/Feb. 2019 

Learn About Interrogation Policies in this State

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