These are all of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice bills proposed in the 2019 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, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about 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.
Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in . They are color-coded by party.
Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium, Minor, and Technical. 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!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.
HB19-1064 Victim Notification Criminal Proceedings [Sullivan]
Removes the requirement that victims opt-in to effect their rights in criminal proceedings involving their alleged or convicted offender.
Long Description: n/a
Right now victims have to ask for dates/times of proceedings. This places an undue burden on the victim to be an extraordinarily informed about the criminal justice system.
This bill puts too much burden on our court system to be constantly notifying victims, who are not given the ability to opt-out. So a victim who does not want these notifications has no way to stop them.
SB19-026 Postconviction Remedy Proceedings (Cooke)
Creates a discovery procedure for postconviction rememdy hearings. Limits the ability of defendants to pursue multiple postconviction remedy hearings by charging for costs of failed hearings, removing public counsel, limiting claims of ineffective counsel to original trial, and limiting collateral attacks on convictions for 1st degree felons.
Creates a discovery procedure for postconviction remedy hearings. Prevents a defendant from bringing a claim of ineffective counsel in a prior postconviction proceeding. Prohibits public defenders or office of alternative justice counsel from representing or advising a defendant based on second or subsequent postconviction remedies unless there is new evidence. Requires courts to charge defendants for the costs associated with a failed postconviction proceeding. Limits the time 1st degree felons can use collateral attacks on convictions to five years (was unlimited). Collateral attacks occur after a defendant has exhausted all of their district appeal rights.
Criminal defendants have sufficient avenues of appeal and postconviction relief but at some point we have to say enough is enough. The current system allows for a never ending cascade of appeals based on the failure of the previous appeal. This bill addresses that by removing the ineffective counsel on appeal loophole. It also prevents defendants from exploiting the free legal counsel they currently receive after one failed appeal, unless there is genuine new evidence. Too many state resources and funds are being used in endless attempts by convicted defendants to weasel their way out of punishment for their crimes.
The bedrock of our legal system is a belief in erring on the side of the defendant. That is why we allow appeals, it is more important to let a guilty person go free than to falsely imprison an innocent one. That is also why we tolerate abuses of the system and why this bill goes too far and may cause a chilling effect on appeals. Requiring that defendants pick up the tab on unsuccessful appeals may prevent them from even trying (and this applies to all appeals, not just 2nd and later ones). Removing free counsel (which may run afoul of the 6th amendment right to counsel) may choke off legitimate avenues of appeal that can occur even after a failed first attempt.
SB19-064 Retain Criminal Justice Programs Funding (Lee) [Weissman]
Instead of returning unspent funds for multiple criminal justice initiatives, this bill keeps the unspent money in their respective programs in future years. Extends the repeal of the justice reinvestment crime prevention initiative from 2020 to 2023.
Instead of returning unspent funds for community-based reentry grant program, the crime victims grant program, the justice reinvestment crime prevention grant program, and the justice reinvestment crime prevention small business program, this bill keeps the unspent money in their respective programs in future years. Extends the repeal of the justice reinvestment crime prevention initiative from 2020 to 2023.
Giving these ongoing programs money that they know they have to spend or lose sets up the conditions for wasteful spending just so they make sure they go through everything. If instead these programs know they are going to keep any unspent funds they will spend more wisely and the legislature can always adjust subsequent funding down.
We need every dollar that the state appropriates each year, just look at our transportation and education shortfalls. Shrugging our shoulders if programs keep unspent money is a way, writ large, to waste large amounts of appropriated money each year that some other program could have used and spent. The way to stop spend or lose mentalities is to thoroughly examine program spending and eliminate waste, not to let programs squirrel money away.