Best Colorado Criminal Lawyers

Best Colorado Criminal Lawyers

If you have been charged with a crime in Colorado, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. An knowledgeable attorney understands both Colorado criminal statutes and prosecutorial practices and can build the strongest defense to either get your charges reduced or dismissed. Here is an overview of some of the top criminal lawyers in Colorado and key aspects of Colorado criminal law and procedure.

Why You Need an Experienced Criminal Lawyer in Colorado

The Colorado criminal justice system can be complex and intimidating to navigate alone. Prosecutors represent the state and work closely with law enforcement to build cases against defendants. Without legal counsel, you are at a significant disadvantage. Reasons you need an experienced criminal lawyer include:

  • Knowledge of Colorado criminal law – There are many nuances to Colorado statutory code that impact criminal charges and sentencing. An attorney knows how to interpret and apply the law in your defense.
  • Guidance through legal process – Your attorney advises at every stage, including working with investigators, negotiating with prosecutors, and representing you in court.
  • Protection of your rights – Your lawyer ensures proper procedures are followed and constitutional rights upheld through motions and objections.
  • Investigation of facts – Your attorney and their team can interview witnesses, collect documentation, and develop evidence to refute charges.
  • Development of defense strategy – Based on the charges and evidence, your lawyer crafts and executes the legal strategies most likely to lead to a favorable outcome.
  • Plea bargaining – If appropriate, your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution to reduce charges or secure a beneficial plea deal.
  • Trial experience – If a plea deal cannot be reached, an experienced trial lawyer can defend you before a judge and jury.

Having a knowledgeable advocate increases your chances of the best resolution and preserves your freedom reputation. Retaining legal counsel should be your first priority when facing criminal prosecution.

Top Criminal Defense Lawyers in Colorado

Colorado has many skilled criminal defense attorneys to choose from. Factors to consider when selecting legal counsel include experience handling your types of charges, knowledge of local courts and judges, and a track record of achieving positive case results. Here are some of the most highly-regarded criminal lawyers in Colorado:

Patrick Mulligan

Located in Denver, Patrick Mulligan is a former prosecutor now exclusively focused on criminal defense casework. He has over 15 years of experience handling all types of Colorado criminal matters from misdemeanors to serious violent felony charges. Mulligan is known for his meticulous trial preparation and aggressive courtroom advocacy. He has obtained many acquittals and dismissals for his clients over the years.

Jay Tiftickjian

Based in Denver, Jay Tiftickjian is an experienced trial and appellate attorney who has defended clients in over 60 criminal jury trials. His practice covers state and federal charges including fraud, theft, weapons offenses, and drug crimes. Tiftickjian is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and well-regarded for his knowledge of criminal defense strategies.

Chris Decker

Chris Decker founded his criminal defense firm in Colorado Springs in 2004. His practice provides aggressive representation for clients facing DUI, domestic violence, sex crimes, drug offenses, and other state and federal charges. Decker has substantial trial experience and secures many dismissals through suppression motions and plea negotiations. He is known for his thorough case preparation.

Anthony Viorst

Anthony Viorst is based in Denver and focuses exclusively on criminal defense casework. He has defended clients facing charges ranging from misdemeanor DUIs to homicide. Viorst is experienced crafting defense strategies involving mental health issues and forensic evidence. He frequently obtains charge dismissals and beneficial plea bargains for his clients.

Daniel Mowrey

Daniel Mowrey is a highly skilled Denver criminal defense lawyer with over 25 years of experience. His practice covers the full range of felonies and misdemeanors including sex offenses, domestic violence, weapons charges, and drug and theft crimes. Mowrey is known for his relentless advocacy and successful trial record. He works relentlessly on behalf of his clients.

Overview of Colorado Criminal Law

Understanding key aspects of Colorado criminal statutes and procedures can help you evaluate defense strategies with your lawyer. Here is an overview of major categories under Colorado criminal law:

Colorado Criminal Statutes

The statutory basis for Colorado criminal law is set forth in Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Specific criminal offenses are defined and classified under this title. Major categories of crimes include:

  • Offenses Against Persons – This includes charges like murder, assault, kidnapping, and harassment.
  • Offenses Against Property – Crimes include arson, robbery, theft, trespass, burglary, and vandalism.
  • Offenses Involving Fraud – Charges include forgery, identity theft, embezzlement, bribery, and racketeering.
  • Offenses Against Public Peace – These include making threats, disorderly conduct, firearms offenses, and interference with staff/law enforcement.
  • Offenses Relating to Morals – Prostitution, public indecency, child exploitation, and distribution of obscene materials.
  • Offenses Involving Controlled Substances – Drug possession, manufacturing, distribution, and trafficking charges.
  • Traffic Offenses – DUIs, reckless driving, hit and run, eluding police, driving under denial/revocation.
  • Offenses Against Public Administration – Obstruction of justice, perjury, witness tampering, official misconduct.

The statutes define the elements prosecutors must prove for conviction of each offense and classify crimes as felonies, misdemeanors, petty offenses, or traffic infractions.

Felonies vs. Misdemeanors

Felony charges are the most serious criminal offenses. They are punishable by imprisonment of more than one year. Misdemeanors are lesser crimes punishable by up to one year in jail. While typically less complex, misdemeanor charges still warrant an experienced defense. Some key differences between felonies and misdemeanors in Colorado:

Felonies Misdemeanors
Punishable by 1+ years in prison Punishable by up to 1 year in jail
Higher fines Lower fines
Often complex cases Typically straightforward cases
Tried in district court Tried in county court
Right to a 12 person jury trial 6 person jury or bench trial
Felony record No felony record

Though punished less severely, misdemeanor convictions stay on your record and can impact employment, housing, and other facets of life. An experienced lawyer can help minimize consequences.

Common Defenses to Colorado Criminal Charges

A skilled Colorado criminal lawyer will evaluate the facts of your case and identify all potential defenses. While the possibilities are limitless depending on the circumstances, some common defenses include:

  • Wrongful identification – Challenging identity evidence and eyewitness testimony.
  • Self-defense – Admitting actions but legally justified by threat of harm.
  • Consent – Actions were agreed to by alleged victim.
  • Free speech – First Amendment protected communications.
  • Entrapment – Improperly induced to commit crime by law enforcement.
  • Involuntary intoxication – Lacked intent due to involuntary impairment.
  • Necessity – Conduct necessary to prevent greater harm.
  • Statute of limitations – Prosecution barred by time elapsed since alleged crime.
  • Suppression – Exclusion of improperly obtained evidence.
  • Double jeopardy – Blocks multiple prosecution for the same offense.

An experienced attorney can advise whether any of these or other affirmative defenses apply to your charges.

Stages of a Criminal Case in Colorado

Understanding how a criminal case progresses in Colorado will help you know what to expect at each phase. Key stages include:

  1. Arrest – Police take suspect into custody if probable cause crime was committed.
  2. Booking – Suspect is fingerprinted, photographed, and formally processed after arrest.
  3. Charging decision – Prosecutor reviews investigation and files formal charges.
  4. First appearance – Suspect is formally notified of charges and bail may be set by a judge.
  5. Preliminary hearing – Judge decides if enough evidence warrants case going to trial.
  6. Plea bargaining – Negotiations may lead to pleading guilty in return for reduced charges/sentence.
  7. Pre-trial motions – Defense can challenge evidence, request change of venue, etc.
  8. Trial – Prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain conviction at trial.
  9. Sentencing – If convicted, judge imposes punishment within statutory guidelines.
  10. Appeals – Grounds may exist to appeal conviction and sentence.

As you can see, the stakes are high at every step. An attorney guides you through the process.


Facing criminal prosecution in Colorado can be an extremely daunting and stressful experience. However, retaining one of the skilled Denver criminal defense lawyers profiled here or another experienced attorney can significantly improve your prospects. Your lawyer thoroughly investigates the facts, identifies defenses, challenges flaws in the prosecution’s case, negotiates for lesser charges or a favorable plea bargain if appropriate, and represents your best interests at every stage. With an experienced legal advocate at your side, you can achieve the most positive outcome possible.