Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re People

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

February 19, 2019

In Re The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff
v.
Elizabeth Renee Tafoya, Defendant

          Original Proceeding Pursuant to C.A.R. 21 Mesa County District Court Case No. 18CR772 Honorable Gretchen Larson, Judge

          Attorneys for Plaintiff: Daniel P. Rubenstein, District Attorney, Twenty-First Judicial District Bradley E. Smith, Deputy District Attorney Grand Junction, Colorado

          Attorneys for Defendant: Megan A. Ring, Public Defender Kevin Vermillion, Deputy Public Defender Grand Junction, Colorado

          OPINION

          GABRIEL JUSTICE

         ¶1 In this original proceeding pursuant to C.A.R. 21, we review the district court's ruling denying Elizabeth Tafoya a preliminary hearing when she was accused of a class four felony and is being held in custody on that charge. Tafoya was charged with, among other things, Driving Under the Influence ("DUI")-fourth or subsequent offense, a class four felony under section 42-4-1301(1)(a), C.R.S. (2018). Tafoya requested a preliminary hearing on that charge, but the district court denied her request, finding that the DUI count was substantively a misdemeanor that could only be elevated to a felony by way of a sentence enhancer. Accordingly, in the court's view, Tafoya was not entitled to a preliminary hearing on that count.

         ¶2 We issued a rule to show cause and now make the rule absolute. Section 16-5-301(1)(b)(II), C.R.S. (2018), provides that a defendant who is accused of a class four, five, or six felony and is in custody for that offense "may demand and shall receive a preliminary hearing." Here, the legislature amended the DUI statute to provide that DUI is a class four felony if the violation occurred after three or more prior convictions arising out of separate and distinct criminal episodes, the complaint and information accused Tafoya of committing that class four felony, and she is being held in custody on that charge. Accordingly, under the plain language of the statute, Tafoya was entitled to a preliminary hearing, and the district court erred in denying her request for such a hearing.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         ¶3 Just after midnight, Deputy Bailey noticed a green sedan run a stop sign, and he activated his lights to initiate a traffic stop. The car sped away, however, and Deputy Bailey gave chase, ultimately getting close enough to read the car's license plate number, which he then reported to dispatch. The license plate number matched that of a car belonging to Tafoya. Eventually, the officer abandoned his pursuit of the car.

         ¶4 Shortly thereafter, other deputies in the area reported seeing the car, and two of the deputies were able to describe the driver as a Hispanic female with curly black hair. Several state patrol troopers, together with Deputy Bailey, set up a perimeter around the area where the car was last seen, but the driver successfully eluded them.

         ¶5 Later that afternoon, the car was found abandoned in a residential area. Deputies searched the car, and inside they found numerous items, including Tafoya's social security card, a couple of family photos, and an empty wine glass.

         ¶6 One week later, the Mesa County Sheriff's Office completed and submitted to the court a warrantless arrest affidavit for Tafoya. This affidavit alleged a number of counts but notably did not include a DUI charge. The court ruled that probable cause existed for the listed charges, and Tafoya was subsequently arrested. Due to her inability to post bond, she has remained in custody since that time.

         ¶7 Several days after the court's probable cause determination, the prosecution filed a complaint and information. As pertinent here, the prosecution now charged Tafoya with one count of DUI-fourth or subsequent offense, a class four felony under section 42-4-1301(1)(a); two counts of vehicular eluding, a class five felony under section 18-9-116.5, C.R.S. (2018); one count of criminal mischief, a class six felony pursuant to sections 18-4-501(1) and (4)(d), C.R.S. (2018); several misdemeanor and traffic charges; and three habitual criminal counts.

         ¶8 In accordance with section 16-5-301(1)(b)(II) and Crim. P. 7(h), Tafoya requested a preliminary hearing on all of the felony counts, including the DUI count. As to the DUI count, she argued that she was entitled to a preliminary hearing because section 16-5-301(1)(b)(II) provides that a defendant who is accused of a class four felony and is in custody for that charge is entitled to a preliminary hearing.

         ¶9 The prosecution agreed in part, asserting that Tafoya was entitled to a preliminary hearing on all of the felony counts except for the DUI count. Relying on People v. Garcia, 176 P.3d 872 (Colo.App. 2007), among other cases, the prosecution argued that Tafoya was not entitled to a preliminary hearing on the DUI count because that offense is substantively a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.