This section presents data on all cases prosecuted by the District Attorney's (DA) Office that have reached a final resolution (a case disposition). Cases can be resolved in a variety of ways, including by dismissal, diversion, deferred judgment, guilty plea, or by acquittal or guilty verdict at trial.
Why is this important? It is important to review how cases are resolved to ensure we are addressing serious crime effectively while minimizing unnecessary punitiveness.
Since the start of the pandemic, we have struggled to resolve cases at the same rate they are filed. It's important for us to be resolving roughly the same number of cases as are filed every year to ensure we are not building a backlog in the justice system. Throughout the pandemic, necessary limitations on jury trials, in-person proceedings, and court closures have all contributed to a slower rate of case resolution. We would like to see the case resolutions increase to achieve parity with case filing numbers so that the justice system is not overwhelmed with additional cases beyond its current capacity.
Below are a set of indicators that provide additional context about case resolutions. These indicators help the DA's Office ensure they are achieving outcomes efficiently, effectively, and fairly.
Our office charges a particular case based on what the evidence will prove and how the Colorado Legislature has defined those offenses. However, we often engage in appropriate negotiation and consider any additional facts about the case or mitigation about a defendant that is provided. For defendants who want to accept responsibility and proactively engage in rehabilitation, that often results in a reduction in the charge. We will continue to monitor our charging decisions and plea agreement practices, but will encourage our prosecutors to use their discretion to reduce charges where appropriate.
Reminder: Race and Ethnicity data is NOT based on a consistent method of voluntary self-identification. While we work on strategies to improve that data collection, we believe it's important to engage in discussions around issues such as the one highlighted in this metric. There is no question that there is disproportionality at multiple levels - for both victims and defendants - in the criminal justice system. Our office is committed to a deeper study of these issues to develop a better understanding on the root causes of disparity in the justice system.
Reminder: Race and Ethnicity data is NOT based on a consistent method of voluntary self-identification, and we have specific concerns as it relates to identifying individuals of Hispanic ethnicity due to the way that data was historically captured. While we work on strategies to improve that data collection, we believe it's important to engage in discussions around issues such as the one highlighted in this metric. There is no question that there is disproportionality at multiple levels - for both victims and defendants - in the criminal justice system. Our office is committed to a deeper study of these issues to develop a better understanding on the root causes of disparity in the justice system.
Click Here for more information about race and ethnicity data collection and limitations.
There are a myriad of reasons that impact the length of time for case resolution. Some of those are the result of choices or actions made by a prosecutor, but many of those reasons are outside of our office's control. This can include delays in a defendant hiring an attorney or applying for court-appointed counsel. Delays can be caused by continuances granted by the court, or a defendant missing a court date. However, there can be no doubt that our office has at least some influence over this metric and we must do better.
We are encouraged that we've seen some reduction in the median time for resolution in 2022 as restrictions on courthouse operations have come to a close. We will continue to train our prosecutors and seek to staff our office appropriately to manage these cases to earlier average resolutions so that victims and defendants are not left waiting for justice.
During COVID-19 there was uncertainty about whether or how cases were going to proceed, lengthening our court processes. In addition, cases which are referred to a diversion program often lengthen the average time to dismissal as defendants must complete treatment programming successfully before a case is dismissed. We will continue to monitor this indicator and work to better identify cases dismissed due to diversion or other causes.
In general, we would like to decrease the number of hearings to avoid prolonged case processing. We are encouraged that the number of hearings is trending down in 2022 as this generally means cases are having more meaningful hearings more often rather than hearings which accomplish nothing more than delay.
- Each case is reflected by its top disposition. For example, if a charge on a case is dismissed as a part of plea negotiations and another charge on the case is plead guilty, the case will be reflected here as a “plead guilty.”
- The charge level represents the most serious charge filed in a case.
- Warrants are excluded (for all cases identified as a warrant).