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The Law Office of Kevin R. Churchill
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18 Years Experience as a Criminal & DUI Defense Attorney
18 Years Experience as a Criminal & DUI Defense Attorney

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Thornton Man Sentenced in Kidnapping and Sex Offense

The fact that the sentences for Mr. Godoy are to be served concurrently has no practical effect in a case such as this. This is because either of the "to-life" sentences he received will almost certainly translate into a life prison sentence. This is because with indeterminate sentences such as these, it is unlikely that Mr. Godoy will ever be paroled. In Colorado, there is a very low statistical likelihood of release on cases such as these. As described further at https://www.denvercriminalattorney.com/criminal_charges/sexual_assault.html, indeterminate sentences are in fact, with very few exceptions, life sentences to prison.

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/10/26/moises-godoy-thornton-sexually-assaulted-child/#civil-comments
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Supreme Court Ruling on Barring Social Media Use by Sex Offenders

The United States supreme court has ruled that someone cannot be banned from using social media just because they are a registered sex offender. This ruling struck down a North Carolina law that made it illegal for registered sex offenders to use social media sites if minors are also allowed to use those sites. The ruling stated that preventing registered sex offenders from using social media sites violates their First Amendment rights to free speech.
In this ruling, the justices supported the goal of the NC law – that convicted sex offenders should still not have access to vulnerable populations, mainly children. However, they stated that the law was too broad and North Carolina did not prove why an overall ban was necessary; states could enact more specific laws to address legitimate concerns. The ruling stated that the First Amendment guarantees the right for individuals to “have access to places where they can speak and listen, and then, after reflection, speak and listen once more.” And, they argued that the internet, and more specifically social media sites like Facebook, are a primary outlet for this type of discourse in today’s world. These social media sites are sources of information on current events, politics, religion, job postings, and other information that people should not be restricted from accessing. Furthermore, the law could be interpreted as barring sex offenders from other types of web sites including shopping sites like Amazon and informational sites like WebMD, which would not be places where sex offenders would be likely to interact with vulnerable populations and use of these sites would not likely facilitate any sexual crimes against children.
Some social media sites such as Facebook already prohibit use by convicted sex offenders, and if there is a sex offender using the site, another user can report them to the company and they can be removed. However, the court’s ruling implies that this is for individual companies to decide, rather than the government.
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South Carolina Man Escapes Death Penalty

The man accused of killing 7 people over the course of 13 years has pled guilty to all 7 killings, and in exchange, received a sentence to life in prison rather than the death penalty. South Carolina, like Colorado, is a death penalty state. The defendant, Todd Kohlhepp, openly confessed to at least some of the murders. His plea deal consisted of guilty pleas to murder, kidnapping and sexual assault.

It is unclear why the protection allowed Kohlhepp to escape a death sentence. His charges appeared to be easily provable, and certainly they were more than aggravated enough to warrant the death penalty. Typically, there are only three reasons why the prosecution would not pursue the death penalty in such a situation. First, they may simply have wished to avoid the expense of a protracted criminal trial. Second, they may want to avoid making victims, and facilities of victims, relive their horrifying ideal by having to participate in the criminal jury trial. And last, the prosecution may offer a plea deal like this in cases where the evidence is questionable, and the risk of losing at trail is high. As mentioned above, this third reason does not seem to apply here. There is abundant evidence of guilt, including the defendant's confession:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/26/us/south-carolina-kohlhepp-guilty-plea/index.html
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Hung Jury in the Cosby Case

A "hung jury" occurs when there is not unanimity among the jurors about the verdict in a case. When a hung jury occurs, the judge will likely declare a mistrial. The prosecutor in a criminal case can retry the case if they wish, therefore the defendant cannot celebrate as though it is a victory. This creates an interesting conflict with the double jeopardy clause, since the defendant has already been made to stand trial, and was not convicted. So how can the defendant be placed in criminal jeopardy a second time? Historically, jeopardy did not "attach" in a defendant's trial until a verdict was rendered. At that time in history, double jeopardy was not an issue in hung jury cases because no verdict had been reached, therefore double jeopardy was not triggered. Since that time, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that jeopardy attaches to a case when the jury in sworn in, before the trial. Thus, jeopardy has attached long before the mistrial is declared.

When deliberations continue on for long periods of time without agreement, the judge may repeatedly encourage the jurors to try to "reach a verdict," which really means to try to "become unanimous." However, the judge must be careful not to cross the line into coercing any of the jurors to conform to the majority.

I believe that when cases are tried a second time, it favors the prosecution. There is a higher likelihood of conviction the second time around, since the accuser has now had months to consider how to answer the defense attorney's cross examination questions, rather than be confronted by them for the first time when the accuser is sitting only few feet away from the jury.

For more about the criminal justice court process, please visit us at www.DenverCriminalAttorney.com, or give us a call. 
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Defense Witness Barred from Testifying in Cosby Case

The judge in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case barred a witness from testifying for the defense, ruling that the proposed testimony would amount to inadmissible hearsay evidence. Temple University official Marguerite Jackson would have testified that Cosby accuser Andrea Constand had told Jackson that she had been drugged and then sexually assaulted, but then quickly recanted the allegation. Constand then allegedly discussed with Ms. Jackson the possibility of falsely accusing a rich and famous person in order to sue and win a large civil legal judgment.

It is unclear from news reports why Jackson was not allowed to testify to impeach Constand's testimony. Hearsay is an out-of-court statement that is repeated in a court proceeding in order to prove that the matter that is asserted in that statement is true. There are exceptions to the prohibition against using hearsay statements in court. One such exception is for prior inconsistent statements. Assuming Cosby's criminal defense attorney properly asked Constand, during cross examination, if she had previously told Jackson that she had considered falsely accusing a "high profile" person of sexual assault in order to successfully sue for money, and Constand replied no, then the alleged statement to Jackson becomes admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule. Because of the very limited nature of information provided by the media as to what actually occurred in the courtroom, it is difficult to asses why the judge ruled in this way.

Clearly, Jackson's proposed testimony would have been extremely exculpatory in nature. In a case where a defendant is facing incredibly serious consequences if he is convicted, it is disturbing to see the jury be prevented from seeing any exculpatory evidence, much less a bombshell like we are talking about here. If the jury had been allowed to hear this testimony, they would have had the right to believe or disbelieve Jackson's testimony. However, the jury was not put in a position where they were able to make that assessment for themselves, due to the judge's apparently erroneous ruling. Should Mr. Cosby be convicted in this case, there may be a clear basis for appeal as a result of the judge's ruling that the testimony would not be allowed.

Sexual assault is one of the most serious offenses a person can be charged with. In Colorado, most of these types of charges will result in a life prison sentence. Please visit https://www.denvercriminalattorney.com/criminal_charges/sexual_assault.html for more information. 
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Tiger Woods DUI arrest

Tiger Woods was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving on Memorial Day. His arrest, and DUI case, raise issues that clients frequently ask about.

First, he was contacted by police when his vehicle was not in motion, and parked illegally. Even though the car was not being driven, Woods was in "actual physical control" of the vehicle, due to the fact that he was in the driver's seat and had the present ability to drive, even though he was not actually driving.

Second, Woods' DUI case serves as another example of DUI charges based on prescription drugs, rather than alcohol. Many people erroneously believe that if a drug is prescribed by a doctor, and that if they are taking the drug legally, that they do not have to worry about being charged with Driving Under the Influence. Tiger Woods tested showing no alcohol in his system, which means his apparent impairment was based solely on legally prescribed medication related to his recent back surgery. No one would dispute that his need for pain medication, following spinal fusion surgery, is legitimate. Certainly, taking such pain killers is legal under his circumstances. Yet, he is now facing DUI charges.

Last, Tiger was allegedly asked to recite the alphabet as part of his battery of field sobriety tests. This test is not considered to be part of NHTSA's battery of three tests: the One Leg Stand, the Walk and Turn, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus tests. Reciting the alphabet backwards is something most people would have trouble with even with no level of intoxication whatsoever. This is part of the reason why NHSTA does not consider this to be a valid measure of impairment. For more on field sobriety tests, please visit: http://www.denverdui.com/colorado_dui_evidence/field_sobriety_tests/
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Hiring a Denver criminal defense attorney is a must when you have been charged with domestic violence. There are more false allegations in domestic violence cases than in any other type of case. This is because false accusers use the judicial system to exert control and punishment over the accused person. Kevin Churchill has been a criminal defense attorney for 18 years, and has defended countless domestic violence cases in the Denver metro area, and throughout Colorado. He is considered to be a top trial attorney, and has a special ability to uncover false domestic violence allegations. If you have been charged with domestic violence, or any type of crime in the Denver area, please call Denver criminal defense attorney Kevin Churchill for a consultation about your case. 
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Did President Trump commit Obstruction of Justice?

In the coming weeks, more information will likely be revealed about President Trump’s conversations with former FBI director James Comey, as well as the reasons behind Comey’s firing. Under federal law, it is Obstruction of Justice for a person to “influence” any sort of government proceeding or investigation, while having a corrupt agenda.

Michael Flynn Investigation:

Thus far, President Trump has denied that he asked then director Comey to stop the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Assuming he did make that request of Comey, did that break the law? If the president were to stand trial for this alleged offense, the prosecution would have to show that the president had a “corrupt’ agenda. There is nothing wrong with the president influencing an investigation, but there are suspicions that Trump is trying to conceal Russian involvement with his presidential campaign. Certainly, if it becomes known that there was improper Russian involvement in the campaign, and that Trump knew about it, this would strengthen the case that Trump’s request to director Comey to end the investigation was motivated by self-interest, and to avoid prosecution.

Firing Director Comey:

Did President Trump commit Obstruction of Justice when he fired Director Comey? In this case as well, Trump’s motive is all-important. If he was motivated by a belief that Comey was not performing the duties of FBI director up to standards, then he did not commit a crime. If, however, he fired Comey because Comey was turning up the heat on the Russia investigation, then this would certainly appear to be obstruction. The jury in such a case would have to consider circumstantial evidence to make a determination. The fact that Trump fired Comey just as reports suggested that Comey was broadening the Russia investigation, is not a good fact for the President’s defense. This is especially true given Trump’s praise of Comey months earlier during the run up to the election. Trump has directly stated, in a televised interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, that it was Comey’s focus on the Russian investigation that caused him to fire Comey. Trump may try to defend himself by saying that Trump knew that there was no merit to the Russian collusion allegations, and therefore his agenda was not “corrupt.” However, that is not a determination that can be fairly made by the person who is the very subject of the investigation.

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Homicides on the Rise in Denver

2016 saw an increase in murder cases in Denver County. This contributed to a higher overall homicide rate in 2016, relative to 2015. The homicide rate in Denver has been on the rise for several years, however, the Denver murder rate remains low relative to other major US cities. http://www.denverpost.com/2017/01/13/denvers-overall-crime-rate-held-steady-in-2016/
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Colorado shows a slight increase of DUI-related fatalities in 2017 over 2016: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/csp/traffic-safety-statistics
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