Virtual Appearances for Criminal Court in Colorado

On July 15, 2021, the Colorado Supreme Court updated the Criminal Procedure Rules to allow defendants in criminal cases to appear virtually with the consent of the court. This rule change is based off of the emergency rules that were enacted in 2000 because of the COVID pandemic, but are now a permanent part of Colorado Criminal Procedure and will survive past the pandemic. Defendants and their attorneys can now appear remotely for most types of proceedings, so long as both the judge allows it and the defendant consents to it.

Rule 43(e) reads as follows.

(e) Presence of the Defendant by Interactive Audiovisual Device or Interactive Audio Device.
(1) As used in this Rule 43:
(I) “Interactive audiovisual device” means a television- or computer-based
audiovisual system capable of two-way transmission and of sufficient audio and
visual quality that persons using the system can view and converse with each other.
(II) “Interactive audio device” means a telephone- or computer-based audio system
capable of two-way transmission and of sufficient audio quality that persons using
the system can converse with each other.
(2) With the court’s approval, the defendant may be present within the meaning of this Rule 43 by
the use of an interactive audiovisual device or an interactive audio device for any proceeding that
does not involve a jury.
(3) The consent of the defendant shall be required prior to conducting any of the following types
of proceedings by the use of an interactive audiovisual device or an interactive audio device
pursuant to this subsection (e):
(I) Entry of guilty plea;
(II) Sentencing hearings;
(III) Probation and deferred sentence revocation hearings;
(IV) Preliminary hearings;
(V) Pre-trial motions hearings;
(VI) Hearings to modify bail;
(VII) Restitution hearings; and
(VIII) Crim. P. 35(b) and (c) hearings.
(4) The court shall advise the defendant of the following prior to any proceeding conducted
pursuant to subsection (e)(3) of this rule:
(I) The defendant has the right to appear in person;
(II) The defendant has the right to have his or her counsel appear with him or her
at the same physical location;
(III) The defendant’s decision to appear by use of an interactive audiovisual
device or an interactive audio device must be voluntary and must not be the result
of undue influence or coercion on the part of anyone; and
(IV) If the defendant is pro se, he or she has the right to request that the identity
and role of all individuals with whom he or she may have contact during the
proceeding be disclosed.(5) Every use of an interactive audiovisual device or an interactive audio device must comply with
the following minimum standards:
(I) If defense counsel appears, such appearance shall be at the same physical
location as the defendant if so requested by the defendant. If defense counsel does
not appear in the same location as the defendant, a separate confidential
communication line, such as a phone line, shall be provided to allow for private and
confidential communication between the defendant and counsel.
(II) Installation of an interactive audiovisual device or an interactive audio device
in the courtroom shall be done in such a manner that members of the public are
reasonably able to observe or listen to, and (where appropriate) participate in, the
hearing.
(III) Unless the court determines otherwise, parties must have the ability to
electronically transfer exhibits to the court, a witness, and each other during any
proceeding conducted by an interactive audiovisual device or an interactive audio
device pursuant to this subsection (e). Any exhibits electronically transferred to the
court shall be treated as if they had been submitted in person.