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Motions to Reduce a Sentence

In Colorado, it is possible to ask a court to reduce a defendant's sentence. A motion must be filed pursuant to Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure 35(b). The Crim. P. 35(b) motion must be filed no later than 120 days after a person is sentenced. If the person appealed the conviction, then the deadline is 120 days after the completion of the appeal. (An appeal is complete when the appellate court issues a mandate.) If the 120-day deadline is not met, the person loses the right to ask the court to reduce the sentence. There is no proper form to use for such motions because they must be tailored specifically for each case. However, most motions contain similar features.

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Content of the motion

Generally speaking, it is important to emphasize the fact that the person is taking responsibility for the criminal behavior, trying to solve the problems that led to the criminal behavior, and trying to make the victim whole. List everything the person has done to solve the problem that caused them to get into trouble in the first place. For example, a domestic violence defendant can take a class in anger management, complete the class, and then list it as an accomplishment in the motion. It is important that the motion not diminish the serious nature of the underlying crime or the impact the crime had on any victim. If the person owes restitution, it is important to note that by reducing a sentence, or authorizing work release, the court will enable the person to compensate the victim sooner. It is also helpful to request letters from friends and family to attach to the motion. Such letters should talk about how the person is a positive influence in the community,

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Letters in support

It is also helpful to request letters from friends and family to attach to the motion. Such letters should talk about how the person is a positive influence in the family and in the community, how the person is helpful, how others rely on this person to take care of things, and other affirmative things about the person. As long as the letters are favorable, the more the merrier.

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Asking for a hearing

It is important to ask for a hearing on a Crim. P. 35(b) motion. A hearing gives the person a chance to present their best face to the court. Of greater import, it will give the court the opportunity to evaluate the defendant as a human being, and not just as a piece of paper. Although the defendant appeared before the court at the time of the original sentence, Crim. P. 35(b) hearings usually take place long after the case closed. Time has passed since the trial and the original sentencing hearing and, generally, passions will have cooled down. It will be possible for the court to take a fresh look at the case.