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People v. Chavez

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Fourth Division

September 20, 2018

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Loren A. Chavez, Defendant-Appellant.

          Pueblo County District Court No. 04CR2139 Honorable Larry C. Schwartz, Judge

          Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Lisa K. Michaels, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

          Loren A. Chavez, Pro Se

          OPINION

          BERGER JUDGE

         ¶ 1 This case requires us to decide if a criminal court retains subject matter jurisdiction over a defendant's motion, filed years after sentence was imposed, for return of property seized in his criminal case.

         ¶ 2 The criminal court denied defendant's, Loren A. Chavez's, motion for return of property on the merits and Chavez appeals. We hold that the criminal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to decide Chavez's motion. Accordingly, we vacate the court's order.

         I. Relevant Facts and Procedural History

         ¶ 3 In 2004, the police obtained a warrant to search Chavez's house as part of an investigation of an alleged sexual assault. During that search, police seized evidence that they then used to charge Chavez in five separate criminal cases, none of which underlie this appeal.

         ¶ 4 In the case underlying this appeal, Chavez was charged with sexual assault (victim helpless) and second degree kidnapping. None of the evidence seized during the search of his house was admitted at his trial for sexual assault and kidnapping.

         ¶ 5 A jury convicted Chavez of both offenses. He appealed, and a division of this court affirmed. People v. Chavez, (Colo. No. 07CA0954, July 2, 2009) (not published pursuant to C.A.R. 35(f)).

         ¶ 6 Chavez then attacked his convictions under Crim. P. 35(c), claiming that the trial court gave him a defective Curtis advisement and thus his waiver of his right to testify was not knowingly and voluntarily made. The postconviction court granted relief and vacated Chavez's convictions.

         ¶ 7 Instead of standing for retrial, in November 2013 Chavez pleaded guilty to both sexual assault and kidnapping and was again sentenced for those crimes.

         ¶ 8 Three years later, Chavez moved the criminal court for the return of the items seized during the search of his house.[1] He requested the return of, among other things, computers, CDs, and VHS tapes, claiming that they contained family photographs and other personal items. The prosecution objected, contending that the items requested fell "within the nature of [Chavez's] conviction" and possibly included information regarding the victim in the underlying case, ...


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