The City Attorney's Office is committed to serving the people of the community by offering resources to victims, information on the the Public Nuisance Abatement Program, neighborhood outreach and access to training and events.
The Victim Resource Program provides information and support services to victims of Denver municipal ordinance violations. We work to ensure that all victims have the opportunity to actively participate in the criminal justice process. Our Victim Specialists are eager to assist victims throughout the entire court process, from arraignment through sentencing.
Victim Specialists can help with safety plans, protection orders, address confidentiality, transportation to court, restitution, victims’ compensation, referrals for shelter, food, and counseling, and more.
Denver's nuisance ordinance states that an owner, manager, tenant, lessee, occupant, or other person having any legal or other interest or right of possession in property cannot intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently “commit, conduct, promote, facilitate, permit, fail to prevent, or otherwise let happen, any public nuisance” in, on, or using the property.
Essentially, there are certain illegal activities and crimes that if committed on the property, or the property is used during those activities and crimes, the City can file a public nuisance case against the property.
The case is a civil action against the property itself—it is not against the owner. However, the property cannot come to court or sign paperwork, so the owner(s) has to be involved to make decisions about the property.
There are several illegal activities and crimes that could constitute a public nuisance and warrant a case being filed. The full list can be found at section 37-50(c) of the Denver Revised Municipal Code. However, the most common activities that cause a public nuisance case to be filed are:
When the listed illegal activities/crimes occur regularly on properties, those properties become problem areas in neighborhoods around Denver. In many cases, crimes in those neighborhoods increase. Therefore, the purpose of the nuisance ordinance that authorizes filing a public nuisance case is simply to stop the nuisance activity from continuing to occur. The ordinance is not meant to be a penalty against a homeowner or even a case against the homeowner.
The Public Nuisance Abatement Unit Detectives of the Denver Police Department can choose to either send information to the City Attorney’s Office to file a public nuisance case, or to send out a letter to the property owner asking for voluntary compliance.
If the City Attorney’s Office decides to file a case, DPD will post a notice on the property. Ten (10) days later, the City Attorney’s Office can file documents called pleadings. The pleadings officially file the public nuisance case with the Denver County Civil Court. The pleadings include:
Once the court finds probable cause for the public nuisance and grants the Motion for the TRO, the TRO can go into effect ten (10) days later.
When a nuisance case is filed against a property, the owner has three options for how the case can be resolved:
The most common situation where this occurs is when the property is being rented by tenants who were involved in the illegal activity. However, the illegal activity still occurred on or in the property or the property was used in the commission of the illegal activity. Public nuisance cases are civil cases against the house itself, but the owner who is responsible for the house must handle the case on behalf of the property since the property cannot litigate the case, reach a settlement, or respond to the pleadings.
No. The purpose of the ordinance is to stop the illegal activity from happening or continuing to happen in the future. Given the nature of much of the kinds of illegal activity that constitutes the filing of a public nuisance case, removing the “problem tenants” is not the sole solution to the problem. This information, however, could be helpful and informative should the owner decide to speak with the City Attorney about a possible settlement.
While this information is helpful for the City Attorney to know should the owner choose to speak with them about a possible settlement, the nuisance ordinance doesn’t require that the owner is or was aware of the illegal activity on the property. Public nuisance offenses are strict liability in nature, pursuant to D.R.M.C. § 37-70(e). This means the owner doesn’t need to be aware of the tenant's behavior for a case to be filed.
If you choose to litigate the case, you will have to respond to the pleadings via written motions, and attend court hearings. If you choose to settle the case with the City Attorney, it is unlikely you will need to appear in court.
It is up to the owner(s) to decide if they want to settle or not, and if they even want to speak to the City Attorney or not.
The terms of each settlement agreement, or stipulated abatement plan, are determined on a case by case basis and depend on the nature of the case and the history of the property. They can last anywhere from six (6) months to three (3 years), and often include the City being allowed to approve future tenants or buyers of the property. If you are interested in hearing a settlement offer or speaking with the City Attorney about a possible settlement, please call the Public Nuisance Abatement Team at 720-913-8044.
The lis pendens serves as a notice to future buyers or lenders that there was some kind of litigation involving the property. It is not a financial lien, unless a civil judgment was imposed—if a civil judgment is imposed, the lis pendens will not be released until that has been paid. Lis pendens are usually released once the case is over, after the period of time of the Stipulated Abatement Plan has expired, or when the property is sold to a buyer approved by the City.
For further questions on a lis pendens, please contact the City Attorney at: 720-913-8044.
The Stipulated Abatement Plan will include information on how a property owner can sell the property during the period of the Abatement Plan being in effect. Owners are free to refinance, but should know the lis pendens will not be released for the purpose of a refinance.
Should title companies, underwriters, lenders, real estate agents, or others need information about selling a property on Stipulated Abatement Plan or refinancing a property with a lis pendens filed, they can contact the City Attorney’s office at: 720-913-8044
If there is a violation of the Stipulated Abatement Plan, the City will file a Motion to Enforce. The Motion will ask for the property to be closed for the duration of the Stipulated Abatement Plan and the civil judgement be imposed if it was suspended. The defendant has a right to file a response and ask for a hearing to be set in Court.
More specific information on this process is outlined in each Stipulated Abatement Plan.
Denver Revised Municipal Code §37-50(c) states: Any … vehicle on or in which any of the following illegal activity occurs, or which is used to commit, conduct, promote, facilitate, or aid the commission of or flight from any of the following activities. Only the most common are listed:
Section 73, Article III of Chapter 37 of the Denver Revised Municipal Code allows the City to hold a vehicle suspected of being a Public Nuisance.
Denver Sheriff’s Vehicle Impound Facility (V.I.F.) 5160 York Street. https://www.denvergov.org/pocketgov/#/towing
No. Forfeiture actions can only be filed by the Federal or State government when they want to seize property and permanently keep it. This is a civil remedial extension of impoundment program, as the goal of the City is to keep the vehicle for a temporary but extended time period. The vehicle will be in a legal “time out” to incapacitate the nuisance use.
Yes, the City has 45 days from impoundment to file a civil complaint in Denver County Court to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). See DRMC §37-73(c).
The Detective will present the case to the Assistant City Attorney, who may file a civil complaint in Denver County Court and apply for a TRO from the Court, which would allow the City to continue to hold the vehicle. Once the City has the TRO, the TRO and the complaint will be mailed to the Owner. Typically, this could be up to 3 weeks from the impound date.
If the City prevails in the civil lawsuit, the Court would declare the vehicle a public nuisance and the Court must order the vehicle held no less than 6 months but no more than one year from the date the Judge makes that decision.
The vehicle can be released earlier if the Owner prevails in the civil lawsuit OR if the City offers a settlement agreement to release the vehicle earlier with several conditions (never earlier than after 30 days of impoundment). A written settlement agreement that would resolve the matter without a Court appearance would have to be signed. Call the City Attorney to discuss settlement.
The ordinance requires the Court to order any owner(s) of a public nuisance vehicle to pay $2,000.00 in predetermined litigation costs if the City prevails in the civil lawsuit.
If the matter is settled without a trial, the City will have lower costs and the City Attorney can agree to accept a lower payment, in the form of a $300.00 money order or cashier’s check, made out to “Denver Manager of Finance”. This does not include the Impound and Storage Fees at the Vehicle Impound Facility (V.I.F.).
The DRMC requires every owner of a vehicle that is seized and towed for a legitimate reason to pay both the towing and storage of the vehicle before it can be released based on its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
More than 6,000 lbs.
Impound: $120 per day
Storage: $20 per day
Less than 6,000 lbs.
Impound: $170 per day
Storage: $30 per day
The owner can call the Public Nuisance Abatement Team at the Denver City Attorney’s Office at (720) 913-8044. For a face-to-face settlement meeting with the Assistant City Attorney, they must have received the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).
The law allows only the named Defendant(s) to respond by filing an appropriate written legal response with the civil court and request either (1) Expedited Probable Cause Hearing, see DRMC §37-73(d) & 77(c), or (2) Civil trial before a Judge, or both. See DRMC §37-72. Anyone else claiming an interest in the seized vehicle would not have legal standing before the Court but could apply to intervene in the lawsuit to be named a legal Defendant. See DRMC §37-72(j).
WARNING: The act of filing a response will be considered a waiver of the opportunity for any settlement, and the City retains the option to seek the full extent of the available remedies – minimum 6 months closure and the $2000 litigation costs.
It has no effect on these civil public nuisance abatement actions, which are not dependent upon the existence of any criminal charges, or a conviction. Eluding or Drive-By Crime cases may not involve the driver being identified, which is why this civil remedy exists.
The City cannot recognize your claim as legitimate. C.R.S. § 42-3-115 requires a purchaser to register the vehicle with the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 36 hours; C.R.S. § 42-6-110 provide the sole and exclusive way the legal title, as well as any right, title, or interest in a motor vehicle may be transferred, sold, or assigned.
You can execute a written settlement agreement with the City Attorney for your disclaimer of any interest in the vehicle and your dismissal from the litigation at no cost to you. Contact the City Attorney’s Office at 720-913-8044.
Denver City Attorney's Office
Prosecution and Code Enforcement (PACE)
Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building
201 W. Colfax Avenue, 12th floor
Denver, CO 80203
Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The City Attorney’s Office Neighborhood Prosecution Team (“NPT”) seeks solutions outside the usual “arrest and prosecute” approach to crime. We believe that proactively engaging the community to address crime in the neighborhood, with neighbors, positively impacts the livability of our great City.
Our team members collaborate with the community, law enforcement, and government agencies to address issues affecting the livability of our neighborhoods. People living in Denver want and deserve the highest quality of life in their neighborhoods. Examples of some NPT programs are: leading a Motel Task Force uniting multiple city agencies in a cooperative effort to proactively tackle persistent problem motel properties not just individual crimes; the “Adopt-a-Dumpster” program; partnering with the DPD Homeless Outreach Team to brainstorm solutions to the unique problems that surround the homeless population; and adopting an alley in the Ballpark Neighborhood to help keep it graffiti-free.
For more information, contact Chris Gaddis at (720) 913-8095 or Marley Bordovsky at (720) 913-8057.
The Prosecution and Code Enforcement Section has taken a leadership role in the metro-Denver community to better address crimes against older adults. We manage the Denver Forensic Collaborative for At-Risk Adults, offer free trainings across the state on how to better investigate and respond to abuse in later life and co-manage the Denver Hoarding Task Force.
To learn more about how you schedule or attend an upcoming training on elder abuse prevention, e-mail CityAttorney.Prosecution@denvergov.org.
Prosecution and Code Enforcement Section staff are leaders in the classroom offering instruction to Denver 5th graders helping the students to: learn how the criminal justice system works, strengthen their decision-making skills, and gain exposure to the various careers within the criminal justice system.
To schedule a training on:
Please contact us at CityAttorney.Prosecution@denvergov.org