Hundreds of prisoners can seek new trials, freedom after Colorado Supreme Court rules sentences illegal | VailDaily.com
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Hundreds of prisoners can seek new trials, freedom after Colorado Supreme Court rules sentences illegal

David Migoya, The Denver Post

The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled the sentences of hundreds – perhaps thousands – of criminal defendants serving time in Colorado prisons, some for violent sexual crimes, are illegal, giving many of them a renewed shot at freedom.

The court last month stunned the state’s judicial system when it ruled that defendants cannot be sentenced to both prison and probation for charges in the same case, deeming the sentences illegal and unenforceable.

The ruling applies to any defendant sentenced to prison followed by a probation term, and gives each the right to force prosecutors to start over. Those already out of prison theoretically could request their plea deal be overturned, legal experts said.

“This is going to result in a ton of litigation,” defense attorney Scott Robinson said. “This appears clearly to go against what many defense lawyers and prosecutors have assumed to be true for years, that different types of sentences can be imposed on different charges in the same case.”

Prosecutors in at least four judicial jurisdictions, including Denver, have relied on the dual sentence as part of the plea agreement process, mostly for sex crimes where a defendant could be sentenced to an indeterminant number of years in prison and authorities wanted to ensure lifetime supervision should the defendant be released.

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