In this enthralling conversation, we delve into the unwavering commitment of Justie Nicol, an eminent criminal defense attorney in Colorado. From a childhood mock trial that challenged the status quo to her steadfast devotion to criminal defense, Justie’s journey into the world of law has been nothing short of extraordinary. Our exclusive interview with Justie unveils a profound moment from an animal cruelty case, instilling hope for vulnerable animals in need of advocacy. Furthermore, Justie imparts invaluable insights, guiding you through the process of addressing a warrant. As we explore avenues to nullify warrants, she not only educates but also empowers you with the expertise to find the ideal criminal defense attorney for your unique situation.
Why did you decide to become an attorney?
I knew I wanted to be an attorney since I was very young. In fifth grade we had a mock trial where we put the cigarette on trial; before the big tobacco trials. In the entire history of my fifth grade teacher doing this, and he was old by that point, it was the first time he did not find the cigarette guilty on all counts. I was one of two defense attorneys that got the cigarette acquitted. It probably isn’t the best claim to fame, but I think I realized so young that I could be a very good lawyer.
Why did you choose criminal defense as one of your main practice areas?
I had practiced in several other areas first. Coming out of undergrad with a degree in accounting, I thought I was going to be a tax lawyer. I took one tax law class and realized I did not want to do that. Overtime I found that I really enjoy the ability to be creative in litigation. I enjoy demonstrative exhibits and use of technology. It’s probably the number one thing that’s helped me run my own firm, but early on it was criminal defense that really ignited that creativity and the artistic part of my brain more so than the logical side. So storytelling and visual creativity, you don’t get that anywhere but in criminal defense.
A piece of your criminal defense practice crosses over into your expertise with animal law. What has been the most impactful moment for you in the defense of animals?
I have done animal cruelty prosecution. I was one of the few people that did animal cruelty prosecution on a statewide basis when I was a prosecutor in the 18th judicial district. My elected DA actually called me DA Doolittle because I could tell the difference between a rattlesnake and a bull snake and I took all the animal cases. I love animals, it’s who I am. The attorneys who were handling the James Holmes case would come up to me and they would say things like, “We would rather do another mass shooting case than touch one of your dog cases,” and I’m like, “Yeah, I get it, I do.” Animal cruelty prosecution is extremely difficult.
I think the most pivotal moment was one of my animal cruelty prosecution cases, it actually made the news. One of my earliest prosecution cases that kind of ignited this passion was a man who had severely neglected his dog and had no criminal history, but the dog was rescued and saved. I was not present when it happened, but I got to meet the dog later on.
Through the course of the case, the dog actually had so many lingering health issues due to the neglect and abuse. He was older and he had to be euthanized about a year and a half later. Luckily, he had a wonderful 18 months after being saved.
I got to be present when we said goodbye and then I got to take the case to trial and take this guy down. It was super difficult not to cry while prosecuting the case! To hear the judge basically say go to jail, do not pass go, there’s not going to be a bond that you can afford and have him hooked up with handcuffs in front of everybody from the rescue and the foster and everybody else that was there for the trial and sentencing. It was a profound moment. I actually had co-counsel with me, and her job was just to keep me from strangling the public defender or hysterically crying during trial.
This was one of the biggest moments for me as a criminal defense attorney and animal law attorney, I got justice for an animal that had no hope otherwise. I got to save his life!
If you know you have a warrant out for your arrest, how can a criminal defense attorney in Colorado help to navigate through the next steps of the process?
At Colorado Lawyer Team, and some other criminal defense firms, we do a certain type of representation called pre-filing representation. Pre-filing representation is helpful when you’re contacted by officers for an interview before the warrant goes active. You are basically notified that a warrant will be issued and asked to attend an interview. An attorney can help with stepping in to protect your rights if you’ve got a request from law enforcement to be interviewed.
After the warrant is already active, there are a couple things we can do based upon the type of case and the jurisdiction. Whether you are talking municipal, county court, or district court which is felony level, you’ve got different standards. In terms of really serious cases, felonies and misdemeanors in state court, what you’re looking at is probably going to be either an add-on or a motion to quash the warrant.
To quash the warrant means we can file a written motion to cancel the warrant and get a court date for you to come back. Sometimes hiring an attorney to address your case as soon as you find out about a warrant is a positive from the judges’ perspective. It shows you’re committed to resolving the case because you’ve got thousands of dollars on the line with hiring an attorney.
Sometimes we will do an add-on to quash the bond. Where we go in and we get a bond right there in person, the next time that there’s an open court date. As the hired criminal defense attorney, we will hand walk somebody through the court system and go with them to argue bond and potentially even keep them out of custody entirely.
You could get the warrant quashed with the written motion, quashed with an add-on, or a personal recognizance bond. Which a lot of people ask what a PR bond is?. It’s a personal recognizance bond, and it can involve a co-signer, but generally it’s a promise to appear at all future court dates without the need to post a monetary bond or go through a bondsman. Those are ideal circumstances, quashing the warrant, getting a PR bond.
In some cases these ideal solutions are not possible. In a lot of our victim’s rights cases where there’s a crime of violence, or domestic violence there’s a victim that has to be consulted before the bond can even be changed. You can’t get an add-on without the DA talking to the victim in advance. Half the time my job in that situation is getting the victim to come to court, to do the DA’s job for them, so we have all the necessary resources to proceed with bond. Having been a prosecutor, I know that they have to talk to the victim and if we show up without the DA having a conversation with the victim, we’re not going to get anything done and my client’s going to get remanded. They’re going to have to come back in 24 hours for another bond hearing so that the DA has an opportunity to consult with the victim. If I can get involved, have the victim contact the district attorney in advance and coordinate that piece, there is a much higher likelihood that the client doesn’t have to spend a night in jail.
What advice would you give to someone searching for a Criminal Defense Attorney in Colorado?
I think its extremely important to consider all aspects of your potential attorneys interactions with you as you call them and interview with them. If you’ve got a warrant, you’re feeling urgency, you’re worried about getting arrested, or you’re worried about losing your job you need to partner with the best in criminal defense litigation.
For example, sometimes clients call us at the Colorado Lawyer team at 2:00 AM on a Saturday night. We have a receptionist service that will take that call and get all the necessary information that the client or potential client needs to share. The receptionist will schedule an appointment with the attorney for Monday. This process works seamlessly to provide the best service possible for each client we serve.
On the other hand, you might call an attorney at 2:00 AM and suddenly, the criminal defense attorney themselves picks up the phone. I would caution clients about this type of situation. You need to remember that you will always get what you pay for. An answer at 2:00 AM could mean that it’s just that one person. The attorneys answering their own phones or they’re answering calls at 2 a.m –they’re kind of desperate. They’re probably taking a bunch of cases and even taking cases that they don’t have the systems built out to properly serve.
Our firm’s a little different. We have a receptionist service. We only do scheduled intakes. We set boundaries with our clients and empower them to solve their own problems. Instead of calling me at 2am when you get arrested, I can’t do anything until Monday. You call your best friend and give them the debit card information so you can have them contact a bonds person and get you out of jail on Sunday. I can’t get you out of jail on Sunday. Your best friend with your debit card and a bonds person can. So we give provide the information to empower you to solve your own problems, but also be part of team to guide you along the way.
What is one piece of advice you want to share with someone worried about an arrest warrant in Colorado?
Probably the biggest bit of advice for somebody with an active warrant is to find the right attorney who knows how to get you in and out of court and coordinate all of these external pieces, like getting the victim to talk to the DA and getting an investigator to maybe document the victim’s perspective and then also getting a bondsman and getting somebody who is your point of contact for the bondsman, right? You need an attorney who can herd cats, and you won’t be able to find that in every criminal defense lawyer in Colorado.
A criminal defense attorney that can wrangle all the external pieces and assist with preplanning, is the type of partner you need when facing a criminal offense. By preplanning, yes I mean discussing if you have to huddle out home to avoid an arrest warrant amongst other things. At Colorado Lawyer Team we can coordinate things for a couple of days and we can also move pretty quickly.
Most of all, talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Get advice on your situation. Don’t end up in a situation where you sit in jail all weekend because you turned yourself in on Friday evening without talking to an attorney, you’re going to sit in jail until Monday morning! Although they did just start six days a week bond advisement, still, if you’re booked on Saturday morning at 2 a.m, you’re going to sit until Monday.
If you call, there are times when I can even head off a warrant being filed and convince law enforcement to proceed by summons instead. I can tell them literally, you don’t need to arrest my client. I will have him there at court within 24 hours if you give me a summons date.
90% of what I do is yes, lawyering but also mental health, managing that for clients and recognizing when it gets too much for me. I’m not a trained therapist so I’m going to make some recommendations. We sometimes bring social workers into cases to not only just do mitigation packages, but to support the client who is going through a crisis. A lot of times we have partnerships with Family of the Accused, FOTA. They offer therapy and counseling for family members who have a loved one charged with a crime. At Colorado Lawyer Team we have built a robust network to support each client and that network is kinda irreplaceable and it’s what you pay us for.
In a world where legal intricacies can often seem daunting, The Legal Odyssey offers a refreshing perspective through the captivating journey of attorney Justie Nicol in this captivating interview. Justie’s unwavering commitment to justice, whether in criminal defense, family law, or animal law, shines as a beacon of hope for those navigating the legal landscape.