Your Day in Northglenn Municipal Court
Information for Defendants representing themselves
*This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice about your case. If you choose to represent yourself, you are bound by the same rules and procedures as an attorney.
Before your trial:
All Court and Jury trials are in-person
- Determine what evidence you may need to show the judge during your trial. Evidence can be in the form of documents, photographs, printed emails, charts, receipts, etc .
- Determine if you will need any witnesses to testify in your case. You can ask a witness to appear voluntarily. If the witness refuses to appear voluntarily, you may ask the judge to issue a subpoena. The subpoena will require the witness to come to court.
- Before you appear in court, organize the key issues you would like to present during the trial by preparing notes or an outline.
- Prepare to testify yourself if you think doing so will help your case. However, you are not required to testify and if choose not to that cannot be used against you.
- Bring paper and a pen/pencil.
- Treat all people in the courtroom with respect, even if you get frustrated.
- Call the judge "Your Honor," or "Judge."
- During the trial, listen closely and take notes while any witnesses testify.
- Present your position as clearly as possible and answer any questions the judge asks you.
Phases of a Trial
In a trial, the City Prosecutor must prove "beyond a reasonable doubt," the defendant committed the crime/violation charged. The Defendant will have the chance to refute the City’s evidence and to offer his/her own evidence. A trial has the following phases:
Rebuttal by the City
Opening Statements: The trial begins with the opening statement The purpose of opening statements by each side is to tell the judge about the case. The opening statements must be confined to facts that will be proved by the evidence, and cannot be argumentative.
Evidence: The heart of the case is the presentation of evidence. There are two types of evidence: direct and circumstantial. Direct evidence usually is that which speaks for itself: eyewitness accounts, a confession, or a video. Circumstantial evidence usually is that which suggests a fact by implication or inference. Both kinds of evidence are a part of most trials, with circumstantial evidence probably being used more often than direct. Witness testimony is evidence. Evidence is also physical exhibits, including photographs and videos. Physical evidence must be introduced through a witness. No type of evidence is more valuable than the other. Strict rules govern the kinds of evidence that may be admitted into a trial, and the presentation of evidence is governed by formal rules.
Questioning Witnesses: Direct Examination. The questioning of your own witness is direct examination. Direct examination may elicit both direct and circumstantial evidence. Witnesses may testify to matters of fact, and in some instances provide opinions. They may be called to identify documents, pictures or other items introduced into evidence. Generally you may not ask leading questions of your own witnesses. Leading questions are questions that suggest the answers desired, in effect prompting the witness. An example is, "Isn't it true that you saw John waiting across the street before his wife came home?" Objections may be made by the other side for many reasons under the rules of evidence. For example, objections may be made to leading questions, questions that call for an opinion or conclusion by a witness, or questions that require the witness to say what another person said outside of court (hearsay).
Cross Examination. When one side has finished questioning their own witness, the opposing side may then cross-examine the witness. During cross-examination you may only ask questions. You may not argue with the witness or make statements explaining your position. Questions are generally limited to matters that were raised during direct examination. Leading questions may be asked during cross-examination, since the purpose of cross-examination is to test the credibility of statements made during direct examination. Opposing sides may object to certain questions asked on cross-examination if the questions violate the law on evidence or if they relate to matters not discussed during direct examination.
Closing Arguments. Closing arguments discuss the evidence and draw inferences based on the evidence. You cannot talk about issues outside the case or about evidence that was not presented. The City usually goes first. The attorney sums up and comments on the evidence in the most favorable light for his or her side, showing how they proved the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. After the City has made their case, the defense then presents their closing arguments. The defense usually answers statements made in the City prosecutor’s case and points out defects in the City’s case and sums up the facts. Because the City has the burden of proof, the attorney for the City is then entitled to make a concluding argument, sometimes called a rebuttal . This is a chance to respond to the defendant’s points and make their final argument.
If the defense chooses not to make a closing statement. The City loses the right to make a second argument.
The Right to Appeal
If you are convicted at trial you have the right to file an appeal within 35 days of being found guilty. To appeal you must do the following:
- File a “Notice of Appeal” with the Clerk of the Municipal Court.
- Post a deposit for transcripts.
- Docket the appeal and pay a docket fee to the Clerk of the 17th Judicial District in Adams County, Brighton Colorado.
The Court and the Court Clerks ARE not allowed TO GIVE LEGAL ADVICE. For more information contact an attorney or go to https://www.courts.state.co.us/Self_Help/otherappeals/