- The Evans FirmCriminal Defense, HOA, & Wrongful Death Law, 2009 - presenthttp://www.theevansfirm.com/the-evans-law-firm-in-Colorado.html
- Benson & Case, LLPAttorney, 2009 - 2011
- Colorado State Public DefenderAttorney, 2007 - 2009
- Evans Investigation & Legal Research, LLCInvestigator, 2005 - 2007
- Taft, Stettinius, & HollisterClerk, 2001 - 2004
Mr. Evans’ education started at St. Therese grade school in Aurora, which was run by the Sisters of Charity. He participated in the school speech team, and swam year round with the USS club, MACS. He then attended Regis Jesuit High School, where swam as a member of the state and national champion Raider swim team, lettering all four years and making the dean’s list. He also worked part time all four years. He continued his Jesuit education in college at Xavier University in Cincinnati with a Division I swimming and academic scholarship. But after a year, and a twist of fate, Mr. Evans traded in his swim trunks for a pair of boxing gloves, and captained the Xavier NCBA boxing team the remaining three years. He was also a part of Xavier’s Army ROTC Ranger program, and worked full time all four years as both a swim coach for USS club and ABLY, as well as a local bartender.
During the summers, Mr. Evans returned back to Colorado to intern for the Denver Public Defender’s office. After earning a bachelor's degree in English, Mr. Evans wanted to gain a business background before entering law school, and immediately enrolled in the master's degree program at Xavier. While earning his M.B.A., he continued to work full time at Taft, Stettinius, & Hollister and playing for Xavier’s water polo team. Mr. Evans, ready to pursue his dream of becoming an attorney, moved to Miami and attended his first year of law school at St. Thomas University. After the first year, he desired to return back to his home state of Colorado, and he spent the remaining two years at the University of Denver law school with a focus in evidence and trial practice. While in law school, he also began his own legal investigation company. He graduated from the University of Denver with a Juris Doctorate degree, and was admitted to practice law in both the Colorado State and Federal courts.Mr. Evans received an amazing opportunity after graduating from law school to work at the Denver Public Defender’s Office, where he had previously interned. In almost three years, he conducted over thirty (30) criminal jury trials, as well as countless hearings and litigated many appeals. Mr. Evans has practiced in the county, juvenile, district drug courts, as well as in district felony cases. He has represented thousands of clients in the courtroom. He was trained by some of the best lawyers in the state, and has attended the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, NITA. He is an avid and tenacious litigator. In 2009, Mr. Evans joined the Denver law firm of Benson & Case, LLP. He practiced in the areas of criminal defense, civil litigation including personal injury, civil rights, homeowner’s associations, and medical marijuana law.
- University of DenverLaw, 2005 - 2007
- Xavier UniversityBusiness, 2001 - 2004
- Xavier UniversityEnglish, 1997 - 2001
- Regis Jesuit High School1993 - 1997
- St. Therese1985 - 1993
This morning, the Colorado Supreme Court decided in Coats v. DISH (attached), that Colorado’s current laws – the most powerful in the world – do NOT protect a medical marijuana patient-employees private, off duty use of MMJ, even if they are not impaired at work.
Quote from the decision: “The supreme court holds that under the plain language of section 24-34-402.5, C.R.S. (2014), Colorado’s “lawful activities statute,” the term “lawful” refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law. Therefore, employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute. We therefore affirm the court of appeals’ opinion.”
Brandon Coats worked for Colorado-based DISH Network for 3 years in a non-hazardous, telephone customer service call center. He was never impaired at work, and only used after work in the privacy of his own home. DISH was not a federal contractor, so any “Drug-Free Workplace Act” did not apply. This case attracted national attention because it was the ‘perfect storm’ of facts, one that if Mr. Coats could not win, it left serious doubt as to whom could. Most states courts and legislatures have been waiting for Colorado to issue this decision first before deciding how to structure their own state’s MMJ laws on employment. More on the unique, actual facts of this case can be found here (as some reports do not correctly have / understand the specific, narrow facts of this case – especially the alleged work place policy argument).
This was a very tough decision for the Court, one they thought carefully about for a year after briefing was finished July 2014. There were compelling arguments and pressures on both sides. These included pressures from employers and the CO Attorney General’s Office, as well as standing up to federal law.
Although naturally devastating for us, the silver lining of this case, and why it was so important to be litigated by Mr. Coats and his attorney Michael Evans for over 5 years against such an ominous opponent, is that there was previously no clear definition on what an employer and employee could do when it came to MMJ. It was a very scary ‘gray’ area for both sides. All of that hard work and risk put into this case was not a waste, because at least now there is clear communication for everyone on that issue from the Court.
Notably, the Court issues this decision after the legislative session had ended – indicating they may have been waiting (due to the separation of powers) for the CO House or Senate to act and fix the obvious problem. The Court will not make new law, they will only interpret the Colorado’s constitutional and statutory MMJ laws as written. Today’s decision means that until someone in the House or Senate champions the cause, most employees who work in a state with the world’s most powerful MMJ laws will have to choose between using MMJ and work. (MMJ’s one downside is that the inactive, non-impairing “residue” called THC-COOH or carby THC stays in the system for up to 45 days and only a specific blood test like the one used for years by police for DUI-D cases will determine actual impairment based on type & amount of THC.) Brandon Coats did not receive such a test by DISH, only a yes / no test on whether THC was present.
For people like Brandon Coats, there really isn’t a “choice”, as MMJ is the only substance both he and his CO licensed physicians know of to control his seizures due to his quadriplegia. He has to have it. For a list of prior media interviews Brandon has given, as well as photos, click here.
Brandon Coats quote: “Although I’m very disappointed today, I hope that my case has brought the issue of use of medical marijuana and employment to light. If we’re making marijuana legal for medical purposes we need to address issues that come along with it such as employment. Hopefully views on medical marijuana – like the ones in my specific case - will change soon.”
Being accused of committing a crime can certainly ruin your day, if not your week. The only thing that could make that situation worse is to be arrested and spend a few days in jail…or is it?
Ok…being arrested and going to jail, especially for a crime you did not commit, is definitely a horrible, life-altering experience. But I can think of one thing that is worse than a few days in jail - being tricked or trapped into confessing to a crime by law enforcement and spending years in prison.
As a criminal defense attorney, I have the benefit of having worked on thousands of cases. In each case, I am able to review the police reports and meet with my clients. The first thing I typically look for in reading the police reports is an alleged confession on behalf of my client. Why? Because by and large, a confession is always going to be the worst fact in the case. I want to know where my bad facts are.
If I find an alleged confession by my client, I then start to look at the circumstances on how that confession came about. In over 70% of the cases, the confession is not obtained by police after an arrest. It is obtained before the arrest. How?
Well, if you agreed with the above idea that being arrested and going to jail is a horrible, life- altering experience, then you similarly would want to do just about everything you could to avoid it…right? This would naturally include trying to talk your way out of the situation so you don’t get arrested. To you, if you just talk to the police and explain your side of the story, you won’t be arrested or charged later for committing a crime. To your criminal defense attorney, it’s the worst thing you can do to your case and risks you spending years in prison.
The fear you experience is so great, so primal, that you literally go into “fight or flight” mode. Police officers know this and literally “prey” on your fear of being arrested and going to jail. In fact, the worst thing a police officer can do is arrest you first, then ask you questions. Why? Because with an arrest they have already removed the fear and incentive for you to save yourself by talking. In other words, the harm has already been done.
Instead, police officers are trained to attempt to “talk” to you first before making an arrest. You might get a call, or an unexpected visit from a detective, who will usually throw out one of the following lines:
“Hey man, I just want to talk to you about….”
“Just tell us your side of the story. Help us understand….”
“If you talk to us then maybe we can get this all cleared up….”
There are many different versions of this type of solicitation from police officers, but it is all designed to get you to talk, and it is all predicated upon your fear to save yourself and avoid being arrested. We like to think we are intelligent and capable of helping ourselves, but you talking to police does not and will not have the intended effect we think. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. A police officer’s job is to investigate crime, not to exonerate you.
2. If a police officer is asking you questions, they have already made a determination that you have likely done something wrong.
3. Because they already believe that you have done something wrong, a police officer is likely going to arrest you anyway, whether you talk to them or not.
Therefore, getting you to talk and make some admissions is just a bonus to them before they arrest you. Not that being arrested is what we desire, but talking and being arrested is much worse and carries potentially long lasting consequences. Try to forget about short term gains and focus on long term results.
Another reason police officers like to ask questions before making an arrest is because they can avoid having to warn you, through the Miranda rights, that what you are about to say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Many people assume that unless they are given their Miranda rights, then a confession doesn’t matter. This could not be further from the truth. Police officers are only required to Mirandize you when two things happen: 1) they arrest you; and 2) they ask you questions about the case. Now arrest is somewhat subjective, and can include the use of handcuffs, or the restriction of movement through a show of force or authority. The questions themselves have to be reasonably calculated to lead to incriminating responses. So if the police are asking you questions, and you are not under arrest, then your confession is admissible and Miranda does not apply. Similarly, if you are in custody, and you make voluntary statements that are not responsive to a police officer’s question, then your confession is admissible and Miranda does not apply.
So what do you do? Well, I have developed a powerful response that you can use to quickly turn the tables on the police. Here is what I tell all of my clients to say to police officers when they show up to “talk”: I am more than happy to answer all of your questions officer. Would you mind if I just get my attorney here first before we begin? This statement has more meaning than meets the eye of a lay person.
First, the statement invokes the right to counsel. The right to counsel is a constitutional right to have an attorney present when any questioning is being conducted. The invocation of that right by the accused actually requires police to stop questioning you, immediately. Second, the statement is not an outright refusal to answer questions, and you cannot be perceived as “hiding” information or being “uncooperative” or difficult with police officers.
In a very nice way, you are agreeing to be cooperative with the officer so long as you can have your attorney present. Third, and most importantly, the statement is a litmus test for you to see what the true intentions of the police officer are. For example, if you say this statement, and the officer immediately changes his or her mood, i.e. becomes angry, aggressive, frustrated, etc., then you know that he never just wanted “to hear your side of the story” or “clear things up”. He or she wanted you to trick you into making a confession or admission, then arrest you. He or she knows that your attorney would have prevented that. On the other hand, if the officer says “Sure, go ahead and give them a call, we will wait…”, then the officer was truly interested in what you had to say without prejudgment or an agenda.
Why? Because if he didn’t have an agenda, then he would feel comfortable asking you questions, even in front of your attorney. He wasn’t trying to trick you. In conclusion, the presence (or threat of presence) of your attorney should not affect a police officer desiring to question you unless there is ill intent.
In Colorado, you have the right to an attorney as soon as you are arrested, whether you can afford one or not. C.R.S. § 18-1-403. Unique to Colorado, there is a state public defender system – which means every county in every court house is supplied with criminal defense lawyers. If you are in custody, you are entitled to have one of these lawyers appointed to your case. If you are out of custody, then you must financially qualify for their representation or hire your own.
In any case, the simple request for a lawyer is enough to protect you. Since you have the right to an attorney, it begs the question…why would you want to try and handle your case on your own without one?
Turning down legal representation is like performing surgery on yourself. It’s not going to end well if you attempt to remove your appendix yourself, no matter how “smart” you think you are. True intelligence means surrounding yourself with professionals who are trained to protect you.
For further information or questions, please contact The Evans Criminal Defense Law Firm: 303-221-3634 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the CO Supreme Court announcement sheet: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Supreme_Court/Case_Announcements/Index.cfm
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