Colorado Legislative Council Staff
NO FISCAL IMPACT
January 21, 1998
Susan Colling (866-4784)
TITLE: CONCERNING THE ELIMINATION OF PRELIMINARY HEARINGS IN CERTAIN CLASSES OF FELONIES.
Summary of Assessment
This bill would eliminate the ability of a person, accused of a class 4, 5, or 6 felony or a delinquent act that constitutes a class 4, 5, or 6 felony, if committed by an adult, to demand and receive a preliminary hearing.
The bill would take effect July 1, 1998, and would apply to offenses committed on or after that date.
Based on data from the Judicial Department, approximately 10 percent of all scheduled preliminary hearings are actually held, lasting approximately 30 minutes for criminal cases and 45 minutes for juvenile delinquency cases. One objective of a preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence available to proceed with the prosecution. Another objective is to allow attorneys on both sides to assess the strength of their case and consider plea options. Without requiring attorneys to assess their case at the front-end, opportunity for a plea may be lost and therefore more cases would be set for trial. The bill may have the effect of additional hearings set in order for both sides to discuss settlement or plea negotiations.
Under this bill, county courts would no longer handle felony complaints that result in a misdemeanor conviction; they would now be considered in district court. This may require the Judicial Department to reallocate resources from county court to district court, particularly around staffing, as district court require the presence of a court reporter and county court use taped transcript. Although it is not anticipated that additional resources would be required by the Judicial Department to accommodate this shift in workload, it cannot be determined at this time.
This fiscal note is assessed as having no fiscal impact on state revenue or expenditures. By eliminating the preliminary hearing for felony class 4, 5, and 6, there is the potential that more cases may go to trial or additional hearings would be needed to bring the prosecution and defense together to discuss settlement options. However, these two impacts would offset any cost savings that may result from the elimination of preliminary hearings. Therefore, there is no fiscal impact to the state.
Alternate Defense Counsel Judicial State Public Defender