Contact Us
    Contact Us

    Please use the contact form to send us an email - and receive a response within 12 hours.

    Emergency? Call 720-220-2277 (24/7)







Map To Our Office
Read Out Blog
Case Evaluation
Charged With A Crime?

Colorado Criminal Law – Using The Bill Of Particulars To Fight Your Criminal Case

By H. Michael Steinberg Colorado Violent Assault Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer

Colorado Criminal Law - Using The Bill Of Particulars To Fight Your Criminal CaseColorado Criminal Law – Using The Bill Of Particulars To Fight Your Criminal Case – One of the least understood but most powerful tools in the Colorado criminal justice system is the Motion For A Bill Of Particulars.

Almost all Colorado criminal cases are charged in a document called an Information and Complaint. This is the multiple paged document that is handed to you by the Judge or DA at your advisement hearing.


An Information And Complaint Is Used To Charge You In Colorado Felony Criminal Cases

When you are charged with felony crimes in Colorado it is most likely the vehicle used in court will be the Information and Complaint. Often that Complaint will be written using the language of the criminal statute and nothing more. If there are multiple charges called “counts” – all of the charges maybe indistinguishable from one another.

It is in this situation that the Defense can use the Motion For A Bill Of Particulars.

Support for a Colorado Bill of Particulars is found in the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure – specifically Rule 7 (g). Experienced Colorado Criminal Defense Attorneys use this rule to file a Motion for a Bill of Particulars to force the District Attorney to define specifically the key underlying facts alleged to have been committed within each offense charged.

Briefly, the purpose of the Colorado Bill of Particulars is to demand a description of the facts that the prosecution intends to prove at trial while also placing limits on the proof at trial to those areas described in the Bill.

The Law That Supports The Colorado Bill Of Particulars – Rule 7

Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure – Rule 7. The Indictment and the Information

….

(b) The Information.

(1) An information shall be a written statement, signed by the prosecutor and filed in the court having jurisdiction over the offense charged, alleging that a person committed the criminal offense described therein.

(2) Requisites of the Information. The information shall be deemed technically sufficient and correct if it can be understood therefrom:

(I) That it is presented by the person authorized by law to prosecute the offense;

(II) That the defendant is identified therein, either by name or by the defendant’s patterned chemical structure of genetic information, or described as a person whose name is unknown to the informant;

(III) That the offense was committed within the jurisdiction of the court, or is triable therein;

(IV) That the offense charged is set forth with such degree of certainty that the court may pronounce judgment upon a conviction.

…..

(g) Bill of Particulars. The court may direct the filing of a bill of particulars. A motion for a bill of particulars may be made only within 14 days after arraignment or at such other time before or after arraignment as may be prescribed by rule or order. A bill of particulars may be amended at any time subject to such conditions as justice requires.

Colorado State And Federal Constitutional Principles Support Rule 7

Colo. R. Crim. P. 7(g) protect your constitutional principles by providing a method for the accused to obtain additional information when the charging document (the information and complaint) “lacks sufficiently particularized information about the alleged offenses to enable him to prepare an adequate defense.”

Both Colorado State and Federal constitutional principles that support Rule 7, include the following clauses of the Federal and Colorado Constitutions:

  • The Right to Due Process,
  • The Right to Counsel,
  • The Right to Equal Protection,
  • The Right of Confrontation and
  • The Right to Compulsory Process and
  • The Right to Trial by Jury

The request for a Colorado Bill of Particulars is made by filing a Motion For A Bill Of Particulars pursuant to Colo. R. Crim. P. 7(g), and – by virtue of the history behind the Bill -the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and Article II, sections 16, 18 and 25 of the Colorado Constitution.

Our United States Supreme Court has stated that:

“[n]o principle of procedural due process is more clearly established than that notice of the specific charge, and a chance to be heard in a trial of the issues raised by that charge, if desired, are among the constitutional rights of every accused in a criminal proceeding in all courts, state or federal.”

Understanding The Rationale Behind The Need For A Bill Of Particulars

Notice

In order to defend against a criminal charge, a person accused of that charge must have the kind of “notice” that gives him a fair and adequate opportunity to prepare his defense, and to ensure that he is not taken by surprise because of evidence offered at the time of trial.

Effective Representation

This is a fundamental constitutional guarantee and lies at the foundation of due process of law and a lawyer can not be effective” without the opportunity to make an independent examination of the facts, circumstances, pleadings and laws involved in the case.

Thorough Pre-trial Investigation

Moreover a Colorado criminal defense lawyer is required to conduct a pretrial investigation of sufficient thoroughness that the lawyer can develop any and all potential defenses and also to uncover facts that are relevant to guilt and punishment. At every stage of a criminal case, the defense lawyer has an obligation to conduct a thorough and independent investigations relating to the issues of both guilt and possible penalties.

In short, the Constitution also guarantees the accused “a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense.”

A criminal trial is intended to seek the truth – by enabling the accused to be better prepared, the defense can assist a jury to focus its attention on the “actual factual issues” in the case, and not be distracted or confused by issues which are not central to the elements of the charged offense. A Bill of Particulars is the kind of tool that accomplishes this goal.

What The Colorado Bill Of Particulars “Asks For”

In obtaining answers to the questions about the evidence posed in a Colorado Bill of Particulars, the Defense should receive an exposition of the evidence that the State intends to present against the accused to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The answers to the Bill of Particulars can then be used to limit the State’s proof at trial to those areas outlined in the Bill of Particulars.

A Bill of Particulars does not call for a complete recitation of the State’s case and does NOT require the State to provide a detailed particularization of its evidence as to each element of the charged offenses. To the contrary, a properly drafted Bill of Particulars requests only specific, extremely limited and highly relevant information that is essential to enable the Defendant to prepare his defense for trial and to avoid prejudicial surprise at trial.

A properly drafted Bill of Particulars does not place a significant burden on the state. Usually it can be easily and quickly complied with and the benefits to the accused greatly outweigh the minimal burden on the state to provide the information requested.

When The Discovery Process Fails To Provide Critical Specifics To The Defense

A Defendant should not be required to first learn of what the State of Colorado alleges are the factual elements of their case at the opening statement. There are times, particularly in complex serious felony cases, that a Defendant’s right to prepare for trial and to effectively defend himself is greatly enhanced by compelling the State to provide information missing from the police or other investigation reports provided in the discovery process.

14 Day Deadline

In Colorado a Motion for a Bill of Particulars must be made only within 14 days after arraignment “or at such other time before or after arraignment as may be prescribed by rule or order.” This is is a hard deadline and should never be ignored. A request for a Bill of Particulars, even if deficient in scope (it can be amended if necessary) has to be filed within 14 days of arraignment even if the discovery process has not been completed.

Colorado Criminal Law – Using The Bill Of Particulars To Fight Your Criminal Case

If you found any of the information I have provided on this web page article helpful please click my Plus+1 or the Share buttons for Twitter and Facebook below so that others may also find it.

The reader is admonished that Colorado criminal law, like criminal law in every state and at the Federal level, changes constantly. The article appearing above was accurate at the time it was drafted but it cannot account for changes occurring after it was uploaded.

If, after reading this article, you have questions about your case and would like to consider retaining our law firm, we invite you to contact us at the Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm – 303-627-7777.

Never stop fighting – never stop believing in yourself and your right to due process of law. You will not be alone in court, H. Michael will be at your side every step of the way – advocating for justice and the best possible result in your case. H. Michael Steinberg is passionate about criminal defense. His extensive knowledge and experience of Colorado Criminal Law gives him the edge you need to properly handle your case

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author at:

hmsteinberg@hotmail.com

A Denver Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – please call 720-220-2277.

“A good criminal defense lawyer is someone who devotes themselves to their client’s case from beginning to end, always realizing that this case is the most important thing in that client’s life.”

You should be careful to make a responsible choice in selecting a Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer. We encourage you to “vet” our firm. Over the last 35 plus years – by focusing ONLY on Colorado criminal law – H. Michael has had the necessary time to commit to the task of constantly updating himself on nearly every area of criminal law, to include Colorado criminal law and procedure and trial and courtroom practice.

Putting more than 35 years of Colorado criminal defense experience to work for you.

H. Michael works hard to get his clients the best possible results in and out of the courtroom. He has written, and continues to write, extensively on Colorado criminal law and he hopes this article helps you in some small way – Colorado Criminal Law – Using The Bill Of Particulars To Fight Your Criminal Case.

Summary
Colorado Criminal Law - Using The Bill Of Particulars To Fight Your Criminal Case
Article Name
Colorado Criminal Law - Using The Bill Of Particulars To Fight Your Criminal Case
Description
One of the least understood but most powerful tools in the Colorado criminal justice system is the Motion For A Bill Of Particulars.
Author

Other Articles of Interest:

If you found the information provided on this webpage to be helpful, please click my Plus+1 button so that others may also find it.

___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
DTC Quadrant Building
5445 DTC Parkway, Penthouse 4
Greenwood Village, Colorado, 80111
Primary Web Site:  http://www.HMichaelSteinberg.com
Colorado Criminal Law Blog:  www.Colorado-Criminal-Lawyer-Online.com
Main:  303.627.7777
Cell:  720.220.2277
24/7 Pager:  303.543.4433
FAX (Toll Free):  1.877.533.6276
Always investigate a lawyer's qualifications and experience before making a
decision to retain that lawyer or, for that matter, any professional ...in any field.