If the defendant received a ticket for an infraction and pleads not guilty, a Final Hearing will be set. A Final Hearing is an informal version of a trial where many of the procedural rules have been relaxed. At the Final Hearing a judicial officer will hear the case instead of a jury. The judicial officer presiding over a Final Hearing may be either a Judge or a Magistrate. The defendant does not have a right to object to a Magistrate hearing their case. With infractions in the Criminal Division, the prosecutor With infractions in the Criminal Division, the present and allow the police officer to act as the City’s complaining witness and will state why he or she gave the ticket. Defendants may hire an attorney, or represent themselves. Since there is no possibility of jail time, attorneys are not appointed for indigent defendants.
The defense can:
- Make an opening statement;
- Present evidence;
- Argue the law;
- Bring witnesses;
- Question (cross-examine) the officer who issued the ticket and any other witnesses; and
- Make a closing statement.
When the case is called, the defendant should step to the counsel table. The officer will testify first. After the testimony, the Judge will ask the defendant if they want to cross-examine the officer. This means the defendant can ask the officer questions about matters brought up in his or her testimony and other related matters concerning the case. It does not mean introducing defense testimony at that time.
The defendant has the right to remain silent and not testify in their defense. After hearing the officer’s testimony, the defendant may waive the right to remain silent by testifying to their version of the facts. If the defendant chooses to testify, they may be asked questions (cross-examined) on matters that were brought up in their testimony. The defendant may also call witnesses and present evidence such as photographs, charts, or other written materials.
After all witnesses have testified, the Judge will ask if either side wishes to make a closing statement.
Defendants representing themselves should come prepared. They should:
- Understand the charge(s) against them. Defendants can read the charges in the Denver Revised Municipal Code.
- Prepare a list of questions to ask the witnesses and the officer during cross-examination.
- Bring evidence they want to give to the judicial officer.
Subpoena witnesses if they want to require someone to come to court to testify and bring documents. Subpoenas are free, however serving the subpoenas is the defendant’s responsibility.