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Lawmakers consider many bills related to criminal defense system

For the second year in a row, Colorado lawmakers are discussing multiple bills aimed at criminal justice reform. The bills, if passed, could have significant implications on issues of criminal defense and sentencing in the state. The bills target justice-related issues that are prominent in the state, such as prison population and pretrial standards.

Currently, there is a bill awaiting the governer's signature that already makes several changes. One of these is blocking other states from sending inmates to Colorado without the governer's explicit approval. Another changes the charge for those who leave a halfway house without permission, making the offense on par with not returning on time rather than on par with escaping a prison, as was previously the case.

Two of the most talked-about bills being considered at present involve what happens to defendants before they are convicted. One of these would make bond money less common in the pretrial system, and require that bond and release conditions be the least restrictive possible given the circumstances. Another would require a bond hearing within 48 hours of an arrest.

The bills being considered are certainly controversial; for example, victims' advocacy groups take issue with certain changes that may seem lenient on offenders. Rural Colorado residents have previously raised concerns with bills such as the 48 hour restriction, which they argue would be difficult to maintain with the staff in certain counties. It remains to be seen if these bills will be passed, or what changes may be made to them before they do. However, it is important that anyone accused of a crime in the state connect with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to understand which laws are currently on the books to protect their rights and support their defense.

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