These are all of the Legal System bills proposed in the 2018 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, pros, and cons are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium and Minor. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!).

HB18-1028: Attorney General Deceptive Practice Court Order

PASSED HOUSE

Currently if someone does not cooperate with an investigation by the attorney general or a district attorney regarding  potentially deceptive trade practice, the AG or DA can seek a court order requiring compliance but only for terminating or preventing a deceptive trade practice. This bill adds investigation as another option.

Pros

It’s highly limiting for this court order to only allow termination or prevention as possibilities. It can prevent an investigation into a trade practice if people decide not to cooperate. It still requires a judge to agree.

Cons

This bill will allow fishing expeditions. A court order should be reserved for more than just a hunch.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1028

HB18-1041: Crime of Cruelty to Certified Police Working Horse

Adds cruelty to a certified police horse to the separate crime already defined for cruelty to a service animal or cruelty to certified police working dog. A person who reports this crime in good faith is granted immunity from civil liability.

PASSED HOUSE

Pros

Certified police working horses fit this category perfectly so this bill’s addition makes sense.

Cons

It's not necessary to add this category, anyone who is cruel to a police horse is already committing a crime under other statutes.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1041

HB18-1051: Statutory Provisions Extinguish Unattended Fires

From Wildfire Matters Review Committee. Changes penalty for leaving a campfire unattended and one for leaving a campfire not fully extinguished from class 2 petty offense to class 3 misdemeanor. Removes provision requiring counties to post notice about unattended campfires.

PASSED HOUSE

Pros

Wildfires cost the state of Colorado millions of dollars each year. CU found that 30% of all wildfires from 1992-2012 in the state were caused by humans. Clearly current penalties are not enough of a deterrent for sloppy camping procedures and the increase should help some people think twice before leaving a campfire.

Cons

The maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a $750 fine is too much for a crime of negligence like this. It’s not like this is about arsonists or people setting fires on purpose. Changing the penalty is not likely to change careless behavior and this has the potential to be too draconian.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1051

HB18-1057: Disclosure of Information for Asset Recovery

Allows those who are legally judged creditors to retrieve, through a court proceeding process, the name and address of the debtor’s current employer or employers from the state’s wage and employment information. The debtor must be an individual and has the opportunity to contest this request in court. The creditor must pay fees that will cover the administrative cost to the state (these can be recouped in litigation against the debtor). The creditor must follow federal regulations for protecting the debtor’s information and is subject to a $1,000 fine for failure to do so.

Pros

Creditors frequently face difficulties in retrieving funds from debtors, even after a court has ordered it. This allows them another avenue to retrieve the money they are legally owed, as even the threat of contacting an employer might be sufficient.

Cons

This is an unacceptable invasion into the debtor’s life, who might lose their job and thus their ability to pay off any debts. It is also an unacceptable risk of further disclosure by the creditor of the debtor’s personal information, despite the $1,000 fine.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1057

HB18-1059: Require 911 Call

Makes it a crime to not call 911 if an individual knows another individual needs 911 assistance. Crime is classified as a class 2 misdemeanor unless the individual who needs aids dies, in which case it is a class 6 felony.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

Sadly, this law is necessary. It is named “Eric’s Law” after Eric Ashby, who was abandoned by his companions while white water rafting. Eric was swept away and last seen clinging to a rock. His companions did not call for help, got in Eric’s car, drove home, and did not report anything for ten days. Eric’s body was found a few weeks later. This is not the sole incident in the state, and while we might wish we lived in a world where we didn’t need to make it a crime not to report, we don’t.

Cons

Of course no one wants tragedies like the one that happened to Eric Ashby, but this law goes too far. There are many instances where someone could help someone else, and while we wish they would, they do not. How many times have you driven past someone broken down on the side of the road? This law would make it a crime not to call 911.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1059

HB18-1066: Clarify Sexually Exploitative Material Discovery

Clarifies a change made last year to sexually exploitative material laws, which expanded the types of people who, if they possessed such material in the performance of their duties (think cops and lawyers) could not be charged with a crime. This bill clarifies that the discovery process has not changed and defense and defense personnel are not allowed to receive copies of the materials.

PASSED HOUSE

Pros

Just fixes an error in last year’s law, which did not intend to change discovery procedures.

Cons

Perhaps the law should be changed so that defense and defense personnel can receive copies to better do their jobs.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1066

HB18-1077: Penalty for Burglary of Firearms

Usually burglary is a class 4 felony, but there are special circumstances that can increase it to class 3 felony: burglary of a dwelling or when the object is a controlled substance. This law adds a new circumstance: if the objective of the burglary was one or more firearms, firearm parts, firearm accessories, or ammunition. The bill also increases the fines for the crime.

Pros

Stealing deadly weapons, their accessories, or the ammunition required to use them is more dangerous than the usual burglary and thus requires a stronger punishment.

Cons

We are trying to move to less punishment in the criminal justice system, not more. This is a move in the wrong direction, however well-intentioned.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1077

HB18-1078: Court Programs for Veterans

Court must ascertain if a defendant is a veteran or currently serving in the armed forces at his or her first appearance in court. Court shall inform any veteran or active duty member that they may be entitled to receive mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment, or other services.

Pros

Veterans and military members have access to quite a few services that they may be unaware of. This is a great way to help someone who might be struggling and get them the resources and help they need.

Cons

This is too much of a burden on the courts and will slow things down too much.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1078

HB18-1117: Self-Service Storage Facility Personal Property Liens

Modifies laws governing liens that owners of self-service storage facilities can put on occupants. It spells out the late fees that can be charged, allows the rental agreement to limit the aggregate value of the property stored in the facility, and specifies that the property may be sold at an online auction to satisfy the lien.

PASSED HOUSE

Pros

Previous law allowed both the owner to take advantage of no statutory late fees to greatly jack these up in any lien even if they were not in the rental agreement and did not allow the owner to limit the value of what was stored in the property or utilize online auctions to recoup their money.

Cons

This ties the hands of the rental owner if circumstances change regarding late fees.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1117

HB18-1131: Court System for Remote Participation in Hearings

From County Courthouse and Jail Funding and Overcrowding Committee. Directs department of justice to operate a program that allows county and district courts to conduct telephone or internet based remote proceedings. Must allow a two-way audio and video connection, and instructions for creating rules and a bidding process for the technology.

Pros

There are proceedings where the defendant or prisoner is not physically required to be present. This would eliminate the time and expense of transporting these defendants and prisoners, as well as facilitate proceedings where dockets are overly full.

Cons

This may slow things down more than speed them up. Connection breakdowns, non tech-savvy people trying to use it, the common practice of people talking over each other in conference call situations. All of this may hurt the cause of freeing up court dockets more than it helps.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1131

HB18-1132: Increase Department of Corrections Reimbursement to County Jails

From County Courthouse and Jail Funding and Overcrowding Committee. Puts the amount department of corrections is required to reimburse county jails into law, at $108.78 per day, rather than leaving it up to the general assembly to decide each year. Last year it was $54.39, so this doubles the fee.

Pros

The current fee just doesn’t cover costs. That’s the reality, and what happens when this gets left to the general assembly to appropriate each year is that the money required gets chipped away to get spent on other things. This forces the assembly to spend what is needed.

Cons

That doubling of money has to come from somewhere else in the state budget. This bill removes the flexibility of the assembly to determine what is really required every year and act accordingly with the entire state’s budget in mind. Somehow we’ve managed to have county prisons at the lower number.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1132

HB18-1178: Hold Colorado Governments Accountable Sanctuary Jurisdictions

Puts a measure on the 2018 ballot would punish any state or local jurisdiction with so-called sanctuary laws regarding illegal residents. It makes it a crime to participate in any sanctuary actions with individuals as well as jurisdictions subject to civil liability for any crimes committed by any illegal residents in that jurisdiction. The bill also requires any official to report anyone they suspect is an illegal to the federal immigration and customs office. It also makes it a class 4 felony to render assistance to an illegal in a sanctuary jurisdiction, defined as creating a sanctuary jurisdiction or protecting any illegal in a sanctuary jurisdiction.

*This bill has been sent to the House’s “kill” committee, state affairs*

Pros

Our system of government holds that federal laws are supreme over state or local laws. Anyone who violates federal immigration laws or does not uphold their duty to report illegal residents is therefore violating federal law, no matter what the state or local laws say. Therefore so-called sanctuary cities are in violation of federal law and are illegal. Furthermore, these policies encourage illegal immigrants by giving them a safe place to be, where they know local officials won’t turn them over to federal agents. This bill makes it functionally impossible to have a sanctuary city, due the immense liability and penalties, and will put an end to this extra-legal practice.

Cons

This bill rests on an improper understanding of what so-called sanctuary cities are. They are a public safety measure, pure and simple. When illegal residents fear going to hospitals or police, everyone’s public safety suffers as crimes go unreported and injuries and illness go untreated at earlier stages. There is already a large backlog of immigration deportation cases and federal agents are already supposed to prioritize illegals who commit crimes over others. So-called sanctuary cities do not protect illegals who commit crimes, so not turning people over to ICE isn’t materially affecting the immigration system in this country. If the federal government believes these cities are violating the law, then the federal government needs to take action. The fact that is has not, despite virulently anti-illegal immigration individuals in charge, speaks volumes.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1178

HB18-1200: Cybercrime Changes

Changes term “computer crime” to cybercrime and adds using a computer, computer network, or computer system to arrange a situation where a minor can engage in prostitution and using a scanning device or encoding machine to steal credit card information as cybercrimes. Changes lowest level of cybercrime from class 2 to class 1 misdemeanor and higher levels to class 5 felony.

Pros

We need to keep up with times, unfortunately. Cybercrime is becoming more prevalent and the penalties need to become stiffer.

Cons

This runs contrary to the criminal justice reform movement, where we recognize that we went overboard with sentencing in response to crime.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1200

HB18-1243: Civil Rape Shield Law

Creates a presumption that an accuser’s past sexual history is not relevant and inadmissible in a civil proceeding involving alleged sexual misconduct unless it is evidence of the victim’s prior or subsequent sexual conduct with the defendant or it is evidence offered for the purpose of showing the alleged act or acts were not committed by the defendant.

Pros

Slut-shaming is a common tactic for those accused of sexual misconduct. Not only it is irrelevantly prejudicial (one’s unrelated sexual activity has nothing to do with being the target of sexual misconduct) but it also produces a chilling effect on victims, who do not want every detail of their lives dragged through the mud. The exceptions allow the defendant to show, if possible, that either they didn’t do it at all or that there is a larger pattern of sexual contact between the victim and the defendant that is exculpatory. Note that past sexual history is quite different from past claims of crimes.

Cons

Someone’s past sexual activity and conduct is relevant to determining if they are a liar who is trying to smear someone’s good name. This bill prevents defendants from fully defending themselves.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1243

SB18-055: Increase Surcharge for Trafficking Children

A person convicted of a crime against a child must pay a surcharge to the clerk of the court for the judicial district in which the conviction occurs. This bill adds human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude to the definition of crime against a child and increases the penalty from $1,500 to $3,000 in this case.

PASSED SENATE

Pros

It sort of goes without saying that human trafficking of minors for sexual servitude is a crime against a child, and one the most heinous ones imaginable. This bill fixes the omission of this crime from the surcharge requirement and increases the surcharge to account for the terrible nature of the crime.

Cons

There is no reason to increase the surcharge penalty for just this case, either all the penalties should be lifted to $3,000 or they should all stay at $1,500. All crimes against children are terrible, and while some are more terrible than others, all should have the same surcharge.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-055

SB18-056: Civil Jurisdiction of County Courts and Filing Fees

Increase the limit on civil actions in county courts from $15,000 to $35,000 and also increases some fees for district and county courts.

Pros

This merely updates an old statute to keep up with the times, both in the value of damages and the fees.

Cons

This increase is greater than mere inflation and will result in more civil actions for higher amounts in our county court system.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-056

SB18-058: Failure Report Child Abuse Statute of Limitations

Makes failure to report child abuse or neglect one of the crimes where the statute of limitations begins to run upon discovery of the act, rather than commission of the act.

*This legislation has been sent to the Senate “Kill” committee, State Affairs*

Pros

It is unreasonable to expect that someone would report child abuse or neglect before they know about it, so starting the clock on the statute of limitation should begin upon discovery.

Cons

This has the effect of greatly extending the statute of limitations on child abuse and neglect, potentially into strange situations. What happens if you discover the abuse 20 years after it happened?

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-058

SB18-060: Protective Orders in Criminal Cases

Adds two new potential protective order options for courts in domestic violence and other similar cases: prohibiting threatening, harming, or stealing an animal owned or kept by alleged victim or witness; ability to transfer wireless telephone rights and financial responsibilities to the petitioner.

PASSED SENATE

Pros

Both of these are common sense additions to the protective order options for courts. Animals unfortunately can become the target of an abuser’s rage and frequently couples bundle their wireless phones under one plan and one name. This allows a victim to keep their phone and contract with the wireless carrier but gain independence from their abuser. It is important to remember that these are court ordered options, which means a judge must agree to them.

Cons

A protective order for animals is either unnecessary as most of the actions are crimes in their own right, or problematic as exactly who owns the animal in a domestic situation is not always clear. The wireless order may cause the alleged abuser to suffer financially from the changes to the wireless plan.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-060

SB18-062: Snow Removal Service Liability Limitation

Voids any snow removal agreements that require one party to indemnify the other for damages, hold the other party harmless for damages, or provide for the defense of the other party in a liability lawsuit.

Pros

There have to be consequences if a company causes damage while doing its contracted work. If in the course of removing snow they cause damage to structures or cars, the company cannot waive the long contract that most people do not read or fully understand and say “sorry we totaled your car through our negligence, but you signed away your rights to sue.” There is a long history of unenforceable contract law in this country, this bill merely builds on that.

Cons

This is the nanny state at work. If you want to be able to sue for damages, read the contract and refuse to do business with the company that tries to get out responsibility. The free market is more than capable of handling this, people will refuse to contract with snow removal companies if these kinds of clauses are included and those companies will either change or lose business. The government isn’t here to protect people from doing stupid things, if you cannot be bothered to read through a contract and make sure you understand it, that is your fault, not the business.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-062

SB18-068: False Reporting of an Emergency

Current law makes it a crime to falsely report to authorities. It is a class 2 misdemeanor. This bill expands that concept by adding a special category for falsely reporting an emergency, when the false report includes imminent threat to the safety of a person or persons with a deadly weapon. This would be a class 1 misdemeanor unless the false report results in a building or transport evacuation, bodily injury to another, in which case it is a class 6 felony. If it results in serious injury it would be a class 4 felony, and it becomes a class 3 felony if it results in death.

Pros

Unfortunately some pranksters think it is funny to call in bomb threats or other fake mass-danger situations. This is drain on our resources and a potentially deadly situation. Just last year a man in Kansas was killed by police as a result of a prank phone call. This prank is wide-spread enough to even have a nickname: swatting.

Cons

This may have a chilling effect on 911 reporting if people are worried they will get in trouble for making a mistake.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-068

SB18-084: Protection Minor Victims of Human Trafficking

Further protects minors who are sexually exploited. Sexually exploited definition is clarified to include anyone younger than 18 who has been victim of human trafficking or engaged in prostitution related activities. Bill also establishes that anyone younger than 18 who engages in conduct that would be prostitution if they were an adult is the victim of human trafficking and must be referred to appropriate social services department.

Pros

The old language gave the age of the individual as option to use as a defense against prostitution (and other crimes), this just flat out states what we all know: minors who commit acts that are considered prostitution are victims and needed to be treated as such.

Cons

This bill removes all flexibility in terms of dealing with this issue. A 17 year-old who decides to commit prostitution on his or her own with no one else encouraging, forcing, or rewarding this behavior, would be considered a victim of human trafficking under this law. We need more flexibility for the extreme cases.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-084

SB18-089: Elements of the Crime of Hazing

Amends criminal act of hazing to include emotion and psychological, as well as physical harm. Extends crime definition to include adult organizations and actions that occur on private or public property. Adds the ability for the defendant to claim that they were forced to commit the hazing act and were thus also a victim of hazing.

*This bill has been assigned to the Senate “kill” committee, state affairs*

Pros

The previous statute basically just deals with student organizations and physical harm. Hazing goes so far beyond this and this bill recognizes that. It also recognizes that sometime people participate in these activities because they have to.

Cons

This bill is way too broad with the emotional and psychological harm aspect, as extreme embarrassment and dignity are not things that should result in someone being charged with a crime. Life is tough sometimes and we can’t make every negative social interaction a crime.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-089

SB18-109: Authorize Audio-Video Communication Notarial Acts

Establishes the ability to notarize electronic documents via tamper-proof systems that use real-time audio-video communications.

Pros

Our lives are going digital and electronic documents that require notarization should be able to be notarized without needing to seek out a notary in person. It’s just common sense.

Cons

Tamper-proof systems don’t really exist and seem unlikely to in the future. It’s just the way things are. Requiring in-person notarization keeps the process from being hacked. We only require notaries for really important documents, just the kind of things that may be attractive to hackers.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-109

SB18-119: False Imprisonment of a Minor

Moves false imprisonment of a minor from class 2 misdemeanor to class 5 felony (the penalty for higher levels of false imprisonment) and removes the doctor-client and spousal immunity privilege for refusing to testify in these cases.

Pros

Crimes committed against children are serious and require serious penalties. Moving this from a high level misdemeanor to a low level felony makes sense. Spousal and doctor privilege already cannot be invoked in cases of child abuse, this is a natural extension. No one is going to be locking up parents for routine actions of discipline, this isn’t happening right now with the class 2 penalty.

Cons

False imprisonment is a broad category that can cover things like locking the victim in a room, which is something that is routinely done to misbehaving children. The law already provides an upgrade to a class 5 felony if force or the threat of force was used and if the detainment was for 12 hours or longer. The current penalty for lower level offenses works fine.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-119

SB18-123: Asbestos Trust Claims Transparency Act

Federal bankruptcy law allows companies with asbestos liability to put any future liabilities into trusts. But plaintiffs can sue both solvent companies and trusts. This bill requires plaintiffs to provide sworn statements of all asbestos trust claims filed by the plaintiff or on their behalf. These statements are admissible evidence in any case. Defendants in asbestos cases may seek discovery from asbestos trusts and juries are allowed to decide that exposure related to the asbestos trust was the substantial factor in any harm suffered. Defendants can also petition the court to require the plaintiff to file a claim against an asbestos trust instead, they must show the claim is reasonable and will result in more damages received from the trust than legal fees spent.

Pros

Asbestos claimants frequently seek out solvent companies from which they can extract more damages than trusts that have limited funds. The lack of transparency to the courts harms state employers, who end up paying more than their fair share in damages. This bill rectifies that situation by making sure that the solvent entity is the one causing the damage requiring the claim and if that is not the case, making sure the trust is the one paying out.

Cons

This slants things far too much in favor of asbestos-liable companies with deep pockets. They’ll have the ability to use their lawyers to tie up plaintiffs in all sorts of discovery to determine the one other time they may have been exposed to asbestos so they can try to pass the buck. It may have a chilling effect on these lawsuits proceeding forward in the future.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-123

SB18-140: Motor Vehicle and Vulnerable Road User Penalties

Makes it a class 1 misdemeanor to either seriously injure or kills a vulnerable individual (multiple different categories including pedestrians, skaters, bicyclists, police officers, emergency services personnel) while driving in a careless manner. Also must attend a driver improvement school and lose your license for six months.

Pros

It is already a crime to drive in a careless manner, this takes that existing violation and applies to injuring someone, where the current standard to be charged with a crime is the more difficult to prove “reckless manner” which requires proof that the driver consciously disregarded a risk. In other words, being a bad driver is a real defense. For cases of “bad driving” we need to make sure the bad driver is getting the proper training they need.

Cons

We already have laws to deal with seriously injuring or killing someone with your car. This is all about overly punishing a driver who made a honest mistake and like most people, will think about that mistake more often than any driver improvement school could ever make them. Punishing them with the highest level misdemeanor is over the top.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-140

SB18-167: Enforce Requirements 811 Locate Underground Facilities

While the law requires people to call 811 to get underground utilities properly marked prior to any excavation, the federal government has informed the state that its enforcement of this is inadequate and could result in federal funds being withheld from the state. The bill creates a commission which has rule-making and enforcement authority around this law. A review committee on the commission determines whether violations have occurred and recommends action, including potential fines. Also requires all underground facilities installed after 2019 to be electronically locatable.

Pros

This gets us in the right place with the federal government and makes sure state funds are not at risk. We also have this law for a reason, to prevent even more costly damage to underground facilities.

Cons

This goes too far in creating another bureaucracy to deal with an issue that frankly has not yet resulted in any action here in Colorado from the federal government.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-167