After the investigation by the Denver Police Department is completed, they will present the case to the Denver District Attorney’s Office. If the case is initially refused, it will be reviewed again by a different Deputy District Attorney to ensure that vital information regarding the case was not overlooked. If your case is refused both times, this does not mean that they do not believe a sexual assault occurred, it means that there isn’t enough evidence, pursuant to State Statutory guidelines, to take to trial. It is important to remember that if the case is refused you are still eligible to receive ongoing support and assistance from multiple victim service agencies including the Victim Assistance Unit of the Denver Police Department and community based agencies. If you are dissatisfied with a refusal, you may contact the SAIC Liaision with your concerns.
If your case is accepted, you will be assigned a team consisting of the following:
- Deputy District Attorney: prepares for and conducts the prosecution of the case.
- Investigator: continues the investigation where the Denver Police Department left off. For example, they may collect medical reports, pursue witnesses and corroborate alibis.
- Victim Advocate: informs the victim of any court dates, gives referrals and provides support and encouragement throughout the legal process.
- Legal Secretary: updates the prosecution file.
The legal process can be very confusing and frustrating. There are different court dates to remember and each serves a different purpose. Remember that you will have a Victim Advocate that is there to support you, answer questions and inform you of all important steps.
If your case goes to trial, you will likely have to testify in front of the jurors, judge, attorneys and the defendant. The defense attorney will be able to cross examine you. This is often difficult since they may try to attack your story. Your legal team will meet with you a few times beforehand to help you prepare for this process. While it can be intimidating and upsetting to talk about the assault in public, telling the jurors your story can also be an empowering opportunity to speak out about what happened to you. You are allowed to have family members, friends or advocates in the court room to support you through this process as well, as long as they are not witnesses who have been sequestered by the Judge. Victims have statutory rights in Colorado, one of which is to be present at all critical stages of a case, including a trial. For more information about your rights as a victim in the criminal justice process, please see the Colorado Victims’ Rights Act at C.R.S. 24-4.1-302.5.
While the jury is deliberating, you will need to be close by and readily available when a verdict is reached. This can be a long process, taking up to a few days for the jury to reach a verdict in some cases. The courthouse has a special witness reception area where you and your loved ones can wait. You are allowed to bring food and forms of quiet entertainment to help the time pass faster.
If there is a guilty conviction, you will be allowed to give a statement at sentencing to help the judge determine a sentence for the perpetrator. Your loved ones will also be allowed to speak on how the crime has impacted them. Depending on the charge, the perpetrator can receive anything from probation to life in prison.