You've found yourself in trouble with the law. You killed another person, and you're being accused of doing so intentionally. Now, you have a first-degree murder charge to face.
In Colorado, first-degree murder is a Class I felony and can lead to many years behind bars. In a worst-case scenario, a person can also face the death penalty in this state.
As someone who may be facing a first-degree murder charge, it is important for you to protect your rights. Everything is on the line for you, and it's essential that you're protected. It is your right to be treated as an innocent until you are proven to be guilty.
What happens if you are involved in a capital murder case?
A capital murder case is treated differently than other kinds. The trial is bifurcated, which means that it happens in two separate parts.
The first part of a capital murder case is set up to determine if you are guilty or not guilty. This is a very important part of the case, because it's when you and your attorney can attempt to get the case dropped or the charges lowered. In some instances, you may receive a plea agreement offer before going to court, which would potentially give you the option to have the charges lowered or penalties minimized in exchange for a guilty plea.
If you are found to be innocent after this first part of the case, then you will walk away without any further penalties. You can, however, still face a wrongful death claim filed by the family of the person who was killed.
If you are found to be guilty, then you will go to a sentencing hearing. This is when your attorney will fight hard to reduce the sentence that you are given in the future.
At the sentencing hearing, your background, the circumstances of the murder and many other pieces of information are presented to the judge and jury. They will decide if the potential for life in prison or the death penalty is more appropriate for the case. Your attorney's job will be to provide mitigating information to show that you do not deserve a death penalty or that you deserve other options, like life in prison with the possibility of parole.