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The Colorado Rules of Evidence - Part 1

These are the rules you need to know before you step foot in any Colorado courtroom – they are numerous and complex.. But form the foundation for the admission or exclusion of evidence in our court system.

The Colorado Rules of Evidence Article I Rule 101 Scope

These rules govern proceedings in all courts in the State of Colorado, to the extent and with the exceptions stated in Rule 1101.

Rule 102 Purpose and Construction

These rules shall be construed to secure fairness in administration, elimination of unjustifiable expense and delay, and promotion of growth and development of the law of evidence to the end that the truth may be ascertained and proceedings justly determined.

Rule 103 Rulings on Evidence
  1. Effect of erroneous ruling. Error may not be predicated upon a ruling which admits or excludes evidence unless a substantial right of the party is affected, and
    1. Objection. In case the ruling is one admitting evidence, a timely objection or motion to strike appears of record, stating the specific ground of objection, if the specific ground was not apparent from the context; or
    2. Offer of proof. In case the ruling is one excluding evidence, the substance of the evidence was made known to the court by offer or was apparent from the context within which questions were asked. Once the court makes a definitive ruling on the record admitting or excluding evidence, either at or before trial, a party need not renew an objection or offer of proof to preserve a claim of error for appeal.
  2. Record of offer and ruling. The court may add any other or further statement which shows the character of evidence, the form in which it was offered, the objection made, and the ruling thereon. It may direct the making of an offer in question and answer form.
  3. Hearing of jury.In jury cases, proceedings shall be conducted, to the extent practicable, so as to prevent inadmissible evidence from being suggested to the jury by any means, such as making statements or offers of proof or asking questions in the hearing of the jury.
  4. Plain error.Nothing in this rule precludes taking notice of plain errors affecting substantial rights although they were not brought to the attention of the court.
Rule 104. Preliminary Questions
  1. Questions of admissibility generally.Preliminary questions concerning the qualification of a person to be a witness, the existence of a privilege, or the admissibility of evidence shall be determined by the court, subject to the provisions of subdivision (b). In making its determination it is not bound by the rules of evidence except those with respect to privileges.
  2. Relevancy conditioned on fact.When the relevancy of evidence depends upon the fulfillment of a condition of fact, the court shall admit it upon, or subject to, the introduction of evidence sufficient to support a finding of the fulfillment of the condition.
  3. Hearing of jury.Hearings on the admissibility of confessions shall in all cases be conducted out of the hearing of the jury. Hearings on other preliminary matters shall be so conducted when the interests of justice require or, when an accused is a witness, if he so requests.
  4. Testimony by accused.The accused does not, by testifying upon a preliminary matter, subject himself to cross-examination as to other issues in the case.
  5. Weight and credibility.This rules does not limit the right of a party to introduce before the jury evidence relevant to weight or credibility.
Rule 105 Limited Admissibility

When evidence which is admissible as to one party or for one purpose but not admissible as to another party or for another purpose is admitted, the court, upon request, shall restrict the evidence to its proper scope and instruct the jury accordingly.

Rule 106 Remainder of or Related Writings or Recorded Statements

When a writing or recorded statement or part there of is introduced by a party, an adverse party may require him at that time to introduce any other part or any other writing or recorded statement which ought in fairness to be considered contemporaneously with it.

Article II Rule 201 Judicial Notice of Adjudicative Facts
  1. Scope of rule.This rule governs only judicial notice of adjudicative facts.
  2. Kinds of facts. A judicially noticed fact must be one not subject to reasonable dispute in that it is either (1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court, or (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.
  3. When discretionary.A court may take judicial notice, whether requested or not.
  4. When mandatory. A court shall take judicial notice if requested by a party and supplied with the necessary information.
  5. Opportunity to be heard.A party is entitled upon timely request to an opportunity to be heard as to the propriety of taking judicial notice and the tenor of the matter noticed. In the absence of prior notification, the request may be made after judicial notice has been taken.
  6. Time of taking notice. Judicial notice may be taken at any stage of the proceeding.
  7. Instructing jury.In a civil action or proceeding, the court shall instruct the jury to accept as conclusive any fact judicially noticed. In a criminal case, the court shall instruct the jury that it may, but is not required to, accept as conclusive any fact judicially noticed.
Article III Rule 301 Presumptions in General in Civil Actions and Proceeding

In all civil actions and proceedings not otherwise provided for by statute or by these rules, a presumptions imposes upon the party against whom it is directed the burden of going forward with evidence to rebut or meet the presumption, but does not shift to such party the burden of proof in the sense of the risk of non-persuasion, which remains throughout the trial upon the party on whom it was originally cast.

Article IV Rule 401 Definition of “Relevant Evidence”

“Relevant evidence”means evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.

Rule 402 Relevant Evidence Generally Admissible; Irrelevant Evidence Inadmissible

All relevant evidence is admissible, except as otherwise provided by the Constitution of the United States, by the Constitution of the State of Colorado, by these rules, or by other rules prescribed by the Supreme Court or by the statutes of the State of Colorado. Evidence which is not relevant is not admissible.

Rule 403 Exclusion of Relevant Evidence on Grounds of Prejudice, Confusion, or Waste of Time

Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.

Rule 404 Character Evidence Not Admissible to Prove Conduct; Exceptions; Other Crimes
  1. Character evidence generally.Evidence of a person’s character or a trait of his character is not admissible for the purpose of proving that he acted in conformity therewith on a particular occasion, except:
    1. Character of accused.Evidence of a pertinent trait of his character offered by an accused, or by the prosecution to rebut the same or if evidence of the alleged victim¹s character for aggressiveness or violence is offered by an accused and admitted under Rule 404(a)(2), evidence of the same trait of character of the accused offered by the prosecution;
    2. Character of victim.Evidence of a pertinent trait of character of the victim of the crime offered by an accused, or by the prosecution to rebut the same, or evidence of a character trait of peacefulness of the victim offered by the prosecution in a homicide case to rebut evidence that the victim was the first aggressor;
    3. Character of witness. Evidence of the character of a witness as provided in Rules 607, 608, and 13-90-101.
  2. Other crimes, wrongs, or acts.Evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show that he acted in conformity therewith. It may, however, be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunities, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.
Rule 405 Methods of Proving Character
  1. Reputation or opinion.In all cases in which evidence of character or a trait of character of a person is admissible, proof may be made by testimony as to reputation or by testimony in the form of an opinion. On cross-examination, inquiry is allowable into relevant specific instances of conduct.
  2. Specific instances of conduct.Except as limited by § 16-10-301 and 18-3-407, C.R.S. 1973 (Volume 8, 1978 Repl. Vol.), in cases in which character or a trait of character of a person is an essential element of a charge, claim or defense, proof may also be made of specific instances of his conduct.
Rule 406 Habit; Routine Practice

Evidence of the habit of a person or of the routine practice of an organization, whether corroborated or not and regardless of the presence of eyewitnesses, is relevant to prove that the conduct of the person or organization on a particular occasion was in conformity with the habit or routine practice.

Rule 407 Subsequent Remedial Measures

When after an event, measures are taken which, if taken previously, would have made the event less likely to occur, evidence of the subsequent measures is not admissible to prove negligence or culpable conduct in connection with the event. This rule does not require the exclusion of evidence of subsequent measures when offered for another purpose, such as proving ownership, control, or feasibility of precautionary measures, if controverted, or impeachment.

Rule 408 Compromise and Offers to Compromise

Evidence of (1) furnishing or offering or promising to furnish, or (2) accepting or offering or promising to accept, a valuable consideration in compromising or attempting to compromise a claim which was disputed as to either validity or amount, is not admissible to prove liability for or invalidity of the claim or its amount. Evidence of conduct or statements made in compromise negotiations is likewise not admissible. This rule does not require the exclusion of any evidence otherwise discoverable merely because it is presented in the course of compromise negotiations. This rule also does not require exclusion when the evidence is offered for another purpose, such as proving bias or prejudice of a witness, negativing a contention of undue delay, or proving an effort to obstruct a criminal investigation or prosecution.

Rule 409 Payment of Medical and Similar Expenses

Evidence of furnishing or offering or promising to pay medical, hospital, or similar expenses occasioned by an injury is not admissible to prove liability for the injury.

Rule 410 Offer to Plead Guilty; Nolo Contendere; Withdrawn Pleas of Guilty

Except as otherwise provided by statutes of the State of Colorado, evidence of a plea of guilty, later withdrawn, or a plea of nolo contendere, or of an offer to plead guilty or nolo contendere to the crime charged or any other crime, or of statements made in any connection with any of the foregoing pleas or offers, is not admissible in any civil or criminal action, case, or proceeding against the person who made the plea or offer. This rule shall not apply to the introduction of voluntary and reliable statements made in court on the record in connection with any of the foregoing pleas or offers where offered for impeachment purposes or in a subsequent prosecution of the declarant for perjury or false statement.

This rule shall be superseded by any amendment to the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure which is inconsistent with this rule, and which takes effect after the effective date of these Colorado Rules of Evidence.

Rule 411 Liability Insurance

Evidence that a person was or was not insured against liability is not admissible upon the issue whether he acted negligently or otherwise wrongfully. This rule does not require the exclusion of evidence of insurance against liability when offered for another purpose, such as proof of agency, ownership, or control, or bias or prejudice of a witness.

Rule 412 (No Colorado Rule) – C.R.S. § 18-3-407 Article V RUle 501 Privileges Recognized Only as Provided

Except as otherwise required by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Colorado, statutes of the State of Colorado, rules prescribed by the Supreme Court of the State of Colorado pursuant to constitutional authority, or by the principles of the common law as they may be interpreted by the courts of the State of Colorado in light of reason and experience, no person has a privilege to:

  1. Refuse to be a witness; or
  2. Refuse to disclose any matter; or
  3. Refuse to produce any object or writing; or
  4. Prevent another from being a witness or disclosing any matter or producing any object or writing.
Article VI Rule 601 General Rule of Competency

Every person is competent to be a witness except as otherwise provided in these rules or in any statute of the State of Colorado.

Rule 602 Lack of Personal Knowledge

A witness may not testify to a matter unless evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that he has personal knowledge of the matter. Evidence to prove personal knowledge may, but need not, consist of the testimony of the witness himself. This rule is subject to the provisions of Rule 703, relating to opinion testimony by expert witnesses

Rule 603 Oath or Affirmation

Before testifying, every witness shall be required to declare that he will testify truthfully, by oath or affirmation administered in a form calculated to awaken his conscience and impress his mind with his duty to do so.

Rule 604 Interpreters

An interpreter is subject to the provisions of these rules relating to qualification as an expert and the administration of an oath or affirmation that he will make a true translation.

Rule 605 Competency of Judge as Witness

The judge presiding at the trial may not testify in that trial as a witness. No objection need be made to preserve the point.

Rule 606 Competency of Juror as Witness
  1. At the trial. A member of the jury may not testify as a witness before that jury in the trial of the case in which he is sitting as a juror. No objection need be made in order to preserve the point.
  2. Inquiry into validity of verdict or indictment. Upon an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify as to any matter or statement occurring during the course of the jury’s deliberations or to the effect of anything upon his or any other juror’s mind or emotions as influencing him to assent to or dissent from the verdict or indictment or concerning his mental processes in connection therewith, except that a juror may testify on the question whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jurors’ attention or whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror. Nor may his affidavit or evidence of any statement by him concerning a matter about which he would be precluded from testifying be received for these purposes.
Rule 607 Who May Impeach

The credibility of a witness may be attacked by any party, including the party calling him. Leading questions may be used for the purpose of attacking such credibility.

Rule 608 Evidence of Character and Conduct of Witness
  1. Opinion and reputation evidence of character. The credibility of a witness may be attacked or supported by evidence in the form of opinion or reputation, but subject to these limitations: (1) the evidence may refer only to character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, and (2) evidence of truthful character is admissible only after the character of the witness for truthfulness has been attacked by opinion or reputation evidence or otherwise.
  2. Specific instances of conduct.Specific instances of the conduct of a witness, for the purpose of attacking or supporting his credibility, other than conviction of crime as provided in 13-90-101, C.R.S. 1973, may not be proved by extrinsic evidence. They may, however, in the discretion of the court, if probative of truthfulness or untruthfulness, be inquired into on cross-examination of the witness (1) concerning his character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, or (2) concerning the character for truthfulness or untruthfulness of another witness as to which character the witness being cross-examined has testified.

The giving of testimony, whether by an accused or by any other witness, does not operate as a waiver of his privilege against self-incrimination when examined with respect to matters which relate only to credibility.

Rule 609 (No Colorado Rule) – C.R.S. § 13-90-101

§ 13-90-101. Who may testify – interest.All persons, without exception, other than those specified in sections 13-90-102 to 13-90-108 may be witnesses. Neither parties nor other persons who have an interest in the event of an action or proceeding shall be excluded; nor those who have been convicted of crime; nor persons on account of their opinions on matters of religious belief. In every case the credibility of the witness may be drawn in question, as now provided by law, but the conviction of any person for any felony may be shown for the purpose of affecting the credibility of such witness. The fact of such conviction may be proved like any other fact, not of record, either by the witness himself, who shall be compelled to testify thereto, or by any other person cognizant of such conviction as impeaching testimony or by any other competent testimony. Evidence of a previous conviction of a felony where the witness testifying was convicted five years prior to the time when the witness testifies shall not be admissible in evidence in any civil action.

Rule 610 Religious Beliefs or Opinions

Evidence of the beliefs or opinions of a witness on matters of religion is not admissible for the purposes of showing that by reason of their nature his credibility is impaired or enhanced.

Rule 611 Mode and Order of Interrogation and Presentation
  1. Control by court.The court shall exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses and presenting evidence so as to (1) make the interrogation and presentation effective for the ascertainment of the truth, (2) avoid needless consumption of time, and (3) protect witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment.
  2. Scope of cross-examination.Cross-examination should be limited to the subject matter of the direct examination and matters affecting the credibility of the witness. The court may, in the exercise of discretion, permit inquiry into additional matters as if on direct examination.
  3. Leading questions. Leading questions should not be used on the direct examination of a witness except as may be necessary to develop his testimony. Leading questions should be permitted on cross-examination. When a party calls a hostile witness, and adverse party, or a witness identified with an adverse party, interrogation may be by leading questions.
Rule 612 Writing Used to Refresh Memory

If a witness uses a writing to refresh his memory for the purpose of testifying, either:

  1. while testifying, or
  2. before testifying, if the court in its discretion determines it is necessary in the interests of justice, an adverse party is entitled to have the writing produced at the hearing, to inspect it, to cross-examine the witness thereon, and to introduce in evidence those portions which relate to the testimony of the witness.

If it is claimed that the writing contains matters not related to the subject matter of the testimony the court shall examine the writing in camera, excise any portions not so related, and order delivery of the remainder to the party entitled thereto. Any portion withheld over objections shall be preserved and made available to the appellate court in the event of an appeal.

If a writing is not produced or delivered pursuant to order under this rule, the court shall make any order justice requires, except that in criminal cases when the prosecution elects not to comply, the order shall be one striking the testimony, or, if the court in its discretion determines that the interests of justice so require, declaring a mistrial.

Rule 613 Prior Statements of Witnesses
  1. Examining witness concerning prior inconsistent statements for impeachment purposes. Before a witness may be examined for impeachment by prior inconsistent statement the examiner must call the attention of the witness to the particular time and occasion when, the place where, and the person to whom he made the statement. As a part of that foundation, the examiner may refer to the witness statement to bring to the attention of the witness any purported prior inconsistent statement. The exact language of the prior statement may be given.

Where the witness denies or does not remember making the prior statement, extrinsic evidence, such as deposition, proving the utterance of the prior evidence is admissible. However, if a witness admits making the prior statement, additional extrinsic evidence that the prior statement was made is inadmissible.

Denial or failure to remember the prior statement is a prerequisite for the introduction of extrinsic evidence to prove that the prior inconsistent statement was made.

Rule 614 Calling and Interrogations of Witnesses by Court
  1. Calling by court.The court may, on its own motion or at the suggestion of a party, call witnesses and all parties are entitled to cross-examine witnesses thus called.
  2. Interrogation by court.The court may interrogate witnesses, whether called by itself or by a party.
  3. Objections.Objections to the calling of witnesses by the court or to interrogation by it may be made at the time or at the next available opportunity when the jury is not present.
Rule 615 Exclusion of Witnesses

At the request of a party the court shall order witnesses excluded so that they cannot hear the testimony of other witnesses, and it may make the order of its own motion. This rule does not authorize exclusion of (1) a party who is a natural person, or (2) an officer or employee of a party which is not a natural person designated as its representative by its attorney, or (3) a person whose presence is shown by a party to be essential to the presentation of his cause.

Article VII Rule 701 Opinion Testimony by Lay Witnesses

If the witness is not testifying as an expert, the witness¹ testimony in the form of opinions or inferences is limited to those opinions or inferences which are (a) rationally based on the perception of the witness, (b) helpful to a clear understanding of the witness¹ testimony or the determination of a fact in issue, and (c) not based on scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge within the scope of Rule 702.

Rule 702 Testimony by Experts

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.

Rule 703 Bases of Opinion Testimony by Experts

The facts or data in the particular case upon which an expert bases an opinion or inference may be those perceived by or made known to him at or before the hearing. If of a type reasonably relied upon by experts in the particular field in forming opinions or inferences upon the subject, the facts or data need not be admissible in evidence in order for the opinion or inference to be admitted. Facts or data that are otherwise inadmissible shall not be disclosed to the jury by the proponent of the opinion or inference unless the court determines that their probative value in assisting the jury to evaluate the expert¹s opinion substantially outweighs their prejudicial effect.

Rule 704 Opinion on Ultimate Issue

Testimony in the form of an opinion or inference otherwise admissible is not objectionable because it embraces an ultimate issue to be decided by the trier of fact.

Rule 705 Disclosure of Facts or Data Underlying Expert Opinion

The expert may testify in terms of opinion or inference and give reasons therefor without first testifying to the underlying facts or data, unless the court requires otherwise. The expert may in any event be required to disclose the underlying facts or data on cross-examination.

Rule 706 Court Appointed Experts
  1. Appointment.The court may on its own motion or on the motion of any party enter an order to show cause why expert witnesses should not be appointed, and may request the parties to submit nominations. The court may appoint any expert witnesses agreed upon by the parties, and may appoint expert witnesses of its own selection. Any expert witness shall not be appointed by the court unless he consents to act. A witness so appointed shall be informed of his duties by the court in writing, a copy of which shall be filed with the clerk, or at a conference in which the parties shall have opportunity to participate. A witness so appointed shall advise the parties of his findings, if any; his deposition may be taken by any party; and he may be called to testify by the court or any party. He shall be subject to cross-examination by each party, including a party calling him as a witness.
  2. Compensation. Expert witnesses so appointed are entitled to reasonable compensation in whatever sum the court may allow. The compensation thus fixed is payable from funds which may be provided by law in criminal cases and civil actions and proceedings involving just compensation under the fifth amendment. In other civil actions and proceedings the compensation shall be paid by the parties in such proportion and at such time as the court directs, and thereafter charged in like manner as other costs.
  3. Disclosure of appointment.In the exercise of its discretion, the court may authorize disclosure to the jury of the fact that the court appointed the expert witness.
  4. Parties’ experts of own selection.Nothing in this rule limits the parties in calling expert witnesses of their own selection.
Article VIII Rule 801 Definitions

The following definitions apply under this article:

  1. Statement.A “statement” is (1) an oral or written assertion or (2) nonverbal conduct of a person, if it is intended by him to be communicative.
  2. Declarant. A “declarant” is a person who makes a statement.
  3. Hearsay.“Hearsay” is a statement other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.
  4. Statements which are not hearsay.A statement is not hearsay if:
    1. Prior statement by witness.The declarant testifies at the trial or haring and is subject to cross-examination concerning the statement, and the statement is (A) inconsistent with his testimony, or (B) consistent with his testimony and is offered to rebut an express or implied charge against him of recent fabrication or improper influence or motive, or (C) one of identification of a person made after perceiving him, or
    2. Admission by party-opponent.The statement is offered against a party and is (A) the party’s statement in either an individual or a representative capacity or (B) a statement of which the party has manifested his adoption or belief in its truth; of (C) a statement by a person authorized by the party to make a statement concerning the subject; or (D) a statement by the party’s agent or servant concerning a matter within the scope of the agency or employment, made during the existence of the relationship, or (E) a statement by a co-conspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy. The contents of the statement shall be considered but are not alone sufficient to establish the declarant’s authority under subdivision (C), the agency or employment relationship and scope thereof under subdivision (D), or the existence of the conspiracy and the participation therein of the declarant and the party against whom the statement is offered under subdivision (E).
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