People with active warrants for non-violent, low-level misdemeanor and traffic charges in Jefferson or Gilpin counties will have an opportunity to resolve their case without being arrested. The first-ever Fresh Start event in Colorado’s First Judicial District will be held at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Aug. 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The event aims to resolve minor cases that traditionally involve arrests and court appearances that can negatively impact defendants who want to accept accountability. Individuals on probation who have fallen out of compliance can re-engage and get back on track to completing their sentence.
“This is for people who have committed low-level offenses and want to do the right thing,” said Jennifer Kilpatrick, Director of Conviction Integrity & Equity for the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office. “Often people fail to appear because of the fear of being arrested or barriers such as housing, employment or childcare during traditional court hours. This event serves our mission of promoting safer and healthier communities by allowing us to settle these cases and provide defendants with the opportunity for a fresh start.”
Public defenders will be available to review eligibility and provide legal consultation to defendants at no cost. Several community partners – including the Community Connections Center (C3), Jefferson County Public Health, Jefferson Center for Mental Health, Front Range Clinic, Intervention, Inc., Behavioral Treatment Services and Stout Street Clinic – will also be on-site to provide information and resources for individual needs such as housing and vaccinations.
The event will not only benefit individuals with outstanding warrants but will cut down on the costs to taxpayers and allow law enforcement to direct their resources toward offenders who commit higher level crimes and directly victimize others in the community.
“The Fresh Start program will help reduce the large backlog of over 24,000 warrants currently active in Jefferson County while still holding individuals accountable and ensuring only the right people are in jail, those who have committed more serious offenses,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader.
A concept that originated with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee, Fresh Start marks the culmination of a six-month collaborative effort between First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King, the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office, First Judicial District Court, Jefferson County Court, First Judicial District Probation Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Justice Services and C3.
People who have been charged or convicted of an offense under the Victim Rights Act – such as assault, child abuse, unlawful sexual contact or domestic violence – and those with second or subsequent cases involving driving under the influence or driving while ability impaired are not eligible for the program.
Individuals who attend will appear before a deputy district attorney who may offer those eligible a plea agreement. The underlying warrant will be cleared by a judge who may resolve the case or set a new court appearance date.
About Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee
The Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (CJCC) serves as an advisory body to the policy makers, judiciary, and stakeholder groups of the criminal justice system in Jefferson County. The Committee monitors the existing criminal justice system to examine potential opportunities for improvements to the system, prioritizes projects, conducts research, analyzes options, makes recommendations, and assists with implementation. This interagency collaboration seeks to identify innovative and evidence-based solutions to address deficiencies in the system and promote fairness and justice.